Turkey suspends talks with France over pipeline

5th April 2007, Comments 0 comments

ANKARA, April 5, 2007 (AFP) - Turkey, reacting to a French bill on the World War I massacres of Armenians, has suspended talks with Gaz de France (GDF) on the French firm's possible participation in a major pipeline project, the Anatolia news agency reported Thursday.

ANKARA, April 5, 2007 (AFP) - Turkey, reacting to a French bill on the World War I massacres of Armenians, has suspended talks with Gaz de France (GDF) on the French firm's possible participation in a major pipeline project, the Anatolia news agency reported Thursday.

Turkey's energy ministry and the state-owned oil and gas company BOTAS, which is part of the Nabucco consortium building the pipeline, refused to comment on the report.

The five-company consortium plans to build a 3,300-kilometre (2,000-mile) conduit that will carry natural gas from the Middle East and Central Asia to the European Union via Turkey and the Balkans, bypassing Russia.

The other partners in the venture are Austria's oil and gas group OMV, Hungary's MOL, Bulgaria's Bulgargaz and Romania's Transgaz.

The consortium had been in contact with GDF for some time as part of its efforts to find a sixth partner in the six-billion-dollar (4.5-billion-euro) project, which is expected to become operational in 2012.

The four other partners approved GDF's participation, but Turkey has opposed it because of a French draft law that makes it a jailable offense to deny that Ottoman Turks committed genocide against Armenians during World War I, Anatolia said.

The bill was adopted by the National Assembly in Paris in October but must still go before the Senate, then back to the lower house before becoming law.

Turkey had at the time threatened unspecified measures against the bill, which it denounced as a "heavy blow" to bilateral ties.

In November, the Turkish army froze military ties with France over the bill.

Armenians claim up to 1.5 million of their kin perished in systematic deportations and killings between 1915 and 1917 under the Ottoman Empire, modern Turkey's predecessor.

Turkey categorically denies claims of genocide and says thousands of Turks and Armenians were killed in civil strife when Armenians took up arms for independence in eastern Anatolia and sided with Russian troops invading the crumbling empire.

Much to Turkey's ire, many countries have recognised the killings as genocide.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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