France urges Turkey not to 'overreact' to genocide law

22nd December 2011, Comments 0 comments

France expressed regret Thursday that Turkey had withdrawn its ambassador to Paris, and called on its NATO ally not to overreact to a law to punish the denial of the Armenian genocide.

"First of all, I hope that our Turkish friends do not overreact to this decision by the French National Assembly," Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told reporters in Bordeaux, the southwestern city where he is mayor.

"I note the recall of their ambassador. I regret this first reaction and I call for restraint and common sense," he said, adding that he hoped that would be the end of the matter.

But just before he spoke in Bordeaux, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had announced much more draconian sanctions from Ankara, suspending political visits between the countries and freezing military ties.

According to reports in the French media, Juppe himself was opposed to the law and had clashed with President Nicolas Sarkozy over it last week, but he refused to be drawn on this, saying: "My views are well known."

Juppe said the question of withdrawing the French ambassador from Ankara had not yet arisen, since the envoy in question is already in France on a Christmas break. For now there are no plans to prolong this absence, he said.

© 2011 AFP

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