Turkey Cancels Military Ties with France

Reuters23.12.2011 Turkey
Turkey Cancels Military Ties with France

Turkey Cancels Military Ties with France

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Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday a bill passed by France’s Lower House of Parliament, making it a crime to deny genocide, was racist, discriminatory and xenophobic and said it had opened wounds with Paris that would be difficult to heal.

Erdogan said Turkey was cancelling all economic, political and military meetings with NATO partner France and said Ankara would cancel permission for French military planes to land and warships to dock in Turkey as a result of the bill, according to Reuters.

The French bill, which will next be put to the Senate, or Upper House, for debate in 2012, has triggered outrage in Turkey as it would include the 1915 mass killing of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey. “From now on we are revising our relations with France.”

Most of the sanctions imposed on France, a NATO ally, will be in the military sphere, according to AFP. Turkey will now decide on a case-by-case on every military demand made by EU member France to use Turkish airspace and military bases, Erdogan said and will, from now on, reject any French demand for its military vessels to dock at Turkish ports.

Erdogan said Turkey would boycott a joint economic committee meeting in Paris in January and would not take part in twinning projects with France.
Earlier on Thursday, French lawmakers easily passed a measure to make it a crime to deny the mass killings of Armenians in 1915 by Ottoman Turks amounted to genocide, The Associated Press reported.

Turkey, a NATO member, is a strategic ally of France and valued trading partner, and the moves diminish ties at a particularly crucial time. Paris and Ankara are both deeply involved in international issues from the uprising in Syria to Afghanistan.

It was clear long before the vote - easily passed with a show of hands - that France was on a collision course with Turkey. Ankara had threatened to remove Ambassador Tahsin Burcuoglu if French lawmakers did not desist and warned of “grave consequences” to political and economic ties.
Turkey vehemently rejects the term “genocide” for the World War I era-mass killings of Armenians, saying the issue should be left to historians. It contends that France is trampling freedom of expression and that President Nicolas Sarkozy is on a vote-getting mission before April presidential elections.

An estimated 500,000 Armenians live in France and many have pressed to raise the legal statute regarding the massacres to the same level as the Holocaust by punishing denial of genocide.

France formally recognized the killings as genocide in 2001, but provided no penalty for anyone denying that. The bill sets a punishment of up to one year in prison and a fine of €45,000 ($59,000) for those who deny or “outrageously minimize” the killings by Ottoman Turks, putting such action on a par with denial of the Holocaust.

Turkey insists the mass killings of Armenians - up to 1.5 million, historians estimate - occurred during civil unrest as the Ottoman Empire collapsed, with losses on both sides. Historians contend the Armenians were massacred in the first genocide of the 20th century.

 

Source: Reuters; AFP; Photo: Reuters

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