Turkey Warns France Over Genocide Bill

ANKARA (Reuters–Turkish Daily News–BBC)–Turkey’s parliament said on Tuesday Ankara’s close ties with France would be seriously damaged if its NATO ally ratified a bill recognizing the 1915 killing of Armenia’s by Turks as genocide.

"It is clear that Turkish-French relations will sustain grave damage if this bill is passed through the Senate and becomes law," said a parliament statement read out by Speaker Kamer Genc after a debate.

The French National Assembly drew Turkey’s condemnation last Friday when it approved a bill that officially declares the killing of Armenia’s in 1915 to be a genocide.

"We condemn this attitude by the French National Assembly and declare it as completely invalid for Turkey," Genc told parliament to applause from deputies.

The bill is due to be discussed in the next few days in the Senate–the upper house of the French parliament.

The statement did not say what retaliatory measures Turkey might take–but Foreign Minister Ismail Cem said trade and political ties would suffer.

"We believe the French government could make a greater effort to prevent this mistake," Cem told parliament.

Turkey had earlier asked France’s socialist-led government to intervene and stop the bill being passed.

France has one of the largest Armenian communities in Europe–with about 300,000 people of Armenian origin–most of whom are descendants of Genocide survivors.

Turkey–which has strong economic and defense links with France–has looked to Paris to help overcome a crisis in its relations with the European Union since the EU excluded Ankara from its expansion plans.

Making a statement in Luxembourg soon after the passing of the resolution–Cem said that the possible repercussions of that decision were very dangerous–reported the Turkish Daily News.

"The French Parliament passed a resolution which will encourage terrorism and the terrorists who killed our 34 diplomats. And this result caused by the French Parliament seems to legitimize the terrorists’ actions. I condemn this bill which encourages racist terror. The ones who are in a panic because of the strengthening of Turkey should know that Turkey will not give up its peaceful and hopeful way," Cem said.

"It is obvious that this resolution is an attempt to destroy Turkish-French friendship. It is also clear that the supporters of that bill prefer their racist feelings to the national interests of France. And we think that the idea of this resolution will not be shared by the majority of French people," Cem added.

The Turkish government is considering strong measures against France– mainly sparked by the French National Assembly’s decision–reported the BBC.

In the aftermath of the French decision em–called the decision racist and irresponsible and said it legitimized attacks against Turkish targets.

Officials said Turkey will now be reviewing the full range of its economic and political ties with France.

They have drafted a plan under which Turkey would refuse to enter into defense contracts with France and boycott French-made goods.

A BBC correspondent said although Franco-Turkish relations were likely to suffer–Turkey still needs powerful Western friends and it cannot afford to lose the support of France–one of its main allies in the fight for EU membership.

Other countries–Russia–Canada–and Turkey’s regional rival Greece–have also deemed the slaughter a genocide–but France has now become the first major western European nation to do so.

The French vote comes as the EU is trying to encourage Turkey to resume its dialogue with Europe–broken off after an EU decision in December–to exclude Ankara from membership of the Union.

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