Emmanuel Macron will soon have the chance to encounter an old acquaintance of his, as 47-year-old Ali Onaner has been appointed Turkish ambassador to Paris. The two men studied together at the National School of Management (ENA) from 2002 to 2004 as part of the Léopold-Sédar-Senghor promotion, according to Le Point.
A fluent French speaker, after graduating from Charles-de-Gaulle High School in Ankara Ali Onaner became the Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey to Tunisia for two years, where he was at the forefront of the country’s military intervention in Libya, for which he vigorously fought in the Tunisian media. Ankara supported the Tripoli government with France choosing the other side, that of the leader from eastern Libya, General Haftar.
Libya represents one of the many issues that have arisen between Turkey and France, and Ali Onaner will do much to facilitate bilateral relations, which were recently highlighted by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s insulting remarks to his French counterpart. Erdogan questioned the “mental health” of Emmanuel Macron and said last week that he hoped France would “get rid of him” as soon as possible. The upcoming election deadlines for the two heads of state – presidential elections scheduled for 2022 in France and in 2023 in Turkey, are not expected to do any good in ameliorating the bilateral climate.
Onaner is a close associate of Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu, who was due to speak by telephone on Tuesday with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian. Onaner was Cavusoglu’s chief of staff from 2017 to 2018. He knows France well as, in addition to the ENA, he was also the beta at the Turkish embassy in Paris from 2012 to 2016. He was previously head of the human rights department at the Ankara Foreign Ministry. This latest point on his CV could be proven useful in explaining to the French public the multiple human rights violations committed by the Erdogan regime.
Onaner and Macron exchanged messages on Twitter in September. The former encouraged the so-called “classmate” to “move on” after the French president posted on Twitter – in Turkish – an invitation calling on Turkey to start a “benevolent, responsible dialogue, without naivety”.
Onaner’s appointment in Paris may be the first step in this dialogue. /ibna