Turkey weighs sanctions against France over genocide bill

20th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

The Turkish government will impose a raft of diplomatic and trade sanctions against Paris if French lawmakers adopt an Armenian genocide bill this week, a government source said on Tuesday.

"Turkey will not remain silent. That will obviously have consequences," the source told AFP.

"We have already discussed our plans if the bill is adopted at the French National Assembly on Thursday," the source added.

Among the sanctions, Turkey will recall its ambassador to Paris for consultations and ask the French ambassador in Ankara to do the same, the source said speaking on condition of anonymity.

Ankara is also planning trade sanctions targeting French interests in the country, though the government has so far avoided openly using the term of "boycott" against French products.

According to official figures, bilateral trade soared by 17 percent in 2010 to reach 11.6 billion euros ($15.1 billion).

Close to 1,000 French companies in Turkey, as well as those in partnership with Turkish companies will be excluded from public contracts in Turkey, especially in the field of transport, according to the source.

Cultural, scientific and technological cooperation will also be suspended.

On Monday, Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan ruled out an official embargo on French products but stressed the government could not remain indifferent to the nation's feelings.

Ahead of Thursday's vote, Turkey has increased pressure on Paris on all fronts. Two seperate delegations of parliamentarians and business leaders have been lobbying in France since Monday.

Turkey has urged France to block the bill, or face "serious and irreparable" consequences for Franco-Turkish relations.

If the law is passed as expected, anyone in France who publicly denies the genocide could face a year in jail and a fine of 45,000 euros ($58,000).

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 and 500,000 Armenians, and at least as many Turks, died in combat or from starvation when Armenians rose up and sided with invading Russian forces.

France, which has a large population of Armenian descent, recognised the killings as genocide in 2001.

© 2011 AFP

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