Turkey set to announce sanctions against France: PM
Ankara will announce sanctions against Paris if French lawmakers adopt a bill Thursday criminalising the denial of the Armenian genocide by Turkey's former rulers, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.
"Tomorrow probably I will announce what we will do at the first stage and we will announce what kind of sanctions we will have at the second and third stages," Erdogan said late Wednesday, according to Anatolia news agency.
He said the measures of French President Nicolas Sarkozy were aimed at electoral gains and would "harm Franco-Turkish relations."
France's estimated 400,000-strong ethnic Armenian population is seen as an important element in Sarkozy's support base as he prepares for a tough re-election battle in April next year.
The legislation will make it a crime to deny that the killings of Armenians by forces of the Ottoman Empire was genocide, a move long resisted by Ankara.
Ankara is considering diplomatic and trade sanctions against Paris, including recalling the Turkish ambassador in Paris for consultations and asking the French ambassador in Turkey to leave.
It is also planning trade sanctions targeting French interests in the country and excluding French companies from public contracts.
Turkey is an important economic partner for France with about 12 billion euros in trade between the two countries in 2010.
Turkey and France have enjoyed close ties since the Ottoman Empire era coupled with strong economic links, but relations took a downturn after Sarkozy became president in 2007 and raised vocal objections to Turkey's EU accession.
Armenia says up to 1.5 million of its people were killed during World War I by forces belonging to Turkey's former Ottoman Empire.
Turkey rejects the term genocide and says between 300,000 to 500,000 Armenians, and at least as many Turks, died in combat or of starvation when Armenians rose up and sided with invading Russian forces.
Most historians agree that between 500,000 and 1.5 million Armenians died in a series of massacres and deportations from Asia Minor in the Ottoman Empire in 1915 and 1916.
France has recognised the killings as genocide since 2001.
© 2011 AFP