Turkey Again Seeks to Bluff France On Arms Deals

WASHINGTON–In what has emerged as a pattern of heavy-handed bluffing in its arms purchase policy–the Turkish government has again publicly threatened to refuse to buy arms from France if the French Senate recognizes the Armenian Genocide–reported the Armenian National Committee of America.

Turkey warned France and asked her not to bring the draft law about the "so-called genocide" of Armenia’s to the Senate’s agenda.

The draft law which was accepted in the parliament and later sent to the Senate for approval suggests that France should officially recognize the genocide allegations. The Turkish Embassy in Paris contacted the French Foreign Ministry and stated that relations between Ankara and Paris would seriously suffer if the draft law is approved by the Senate. In the meantime–the French Ambassador Jean-Claude Cousseran was told by the Turkish Foreign Ministry that Turkey felt uncomfortable about the situation.

During the meeting of the French Senate which will take place on 22 February–they will discuss whether or not the draft law should be brought to the Senate’s agenda. Turkey had strongly reacted when the draft law was accepted at the parliament in 1998 and the French government had decided to keep the draft law waiting in the Senate.

It was reported that the Armenian lobby in France played an important role to bring the draft law back to the agenda.

This pattern of vocal threats – followed by a quiet return to business-as-usual was in evidence after the French Parliament’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide in May of 1998. Following this vote–Turkey announced that it would cancel all arms purchases from France. Four months later–the September 28th issue of Defense News reported that Turkey "quietly shelved" its hard-line policy of barring arms purchases from France for having commemorated the Armenian Genocide.

The article quoted a Turkish official as saying–"There is no point shooting ourselves in the foot just for the sake of following a rigid policy. "Turkish defense analyst Burak Bekdil was quoted as saying–"despite emotional announcemen’s at certain times–Turkey is moving to disregard political disputes."

The Turkish government has also used this same tactic with the United States. In June of 1996–Turkish Ambassador Nuzhet Kandemir held a press conference in his private residence on the evening of a vote in the US House to adopt the Radanovich-Bonior amendment–which reduced economic aid to Turkey until it ends its campaign to deny the Armenian Genocide. The Ambassador protested the House vote and declared that–as a result–Turkey would reject all US economic assistance. Several months later–however–in October of 1996–the Turkish government quietly informed the State Department that they would in fact accept the economic aid.

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