Turkey warns France of more action over genocide bill

Turkey warns France of more action over genocide bill

National Security Council gathered to discuss security, terrorism, France, Iraq and Syria on Wednesday. (Photo: AA)

December 29, 2011, Thursday/ 23:57:00

Turkey on Wednesday warned France it would take further action against Paris should the French senate pass a bill making it a crime to deny that the 1915 mass killings of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey constituted genocide.

Ankara reacted furiously when the lower house of the French parliament last week approved the bill, recalling its ambassador from Paris, banning French military aircraft and warships from landing and docking in Turkey and freezing political and economic meetings.

Prime Minister Tayyip Recep Erdoğan slammed the bill as “politics based on racism, discrimination and xenophobia” and turned his anger on French President Nicolas Sarkozy, accusing France of colonial massacres in Algeria.

In a statement, the National Security Council (MGK), the top state body for security matters, said it hoped “common sense” would prevail in France and that Paris would turn back from its “mistake.”

France is Turkey’s fifth biggest export market and the sixth biggest source of its imports, with bilateral trade worth $14 billion in the first 10 months of 2011.

The MGK comprises Turkey’s top generals, Erdoğan, members of the Cabinet and President Abdullah Gül.

“About this subject, measures announced by the government and further additional measures will be announced depending on France’s steps,” the MGK said at the end of Wednesday’s five-hour meeting.

“If the proposal passes into law, there will be an objection in every way against this unfair measure.”

The French bill, which will be debated in the senate next year, has caused outrage in Turkey, which argues killings took place on all sides during a fierce partisan conflict. Erdoğan, whose personal animosity towards Sarkozy is well-known due to the Frenchman’s opposition to Turkish membership in the European Union, has suggested the Sarkozy was angling for ethnic Armenian votes in next year’s presidential election.

Buoyed by its fast-growing economy while Europe battles a financial crisis and angered at its stagnant bid to join the EU, Ankara feels it has little to lose in a political fight with Paris.

Turkish Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan has, however, said French investments in Turkey are safe, but suggested that “consumers might take matters into their own hands.”

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