Turkey Cuts French Contract Over Genocide Vote

Combined Sources–On January 23–Turkey said it canceled a $259 million satellite contract with the French company Alcatel and might exclude French state-owned arms producer GIAT from a tank tender–due to the French parliament passing the Armenian genocide bill.

"We have canceled a tender relating to an intelligence satellite. It had been given to Alcatel and a preliminary agreement had been worked out,” Defense Minister Sabahattin Cakmakoglu stated. The cancellation of the satellite project was the first major step in reaction to last week’s declaration made by the lower house of France’s National Assembly.

Turkey denies charges of genocide–saying all sides suffered losses during partisan fighting as the Ottoman empire collapsed–and characterizes the restive Armenian minority then as traitors manipulated by Russia. Turkey says the death count is inflated and that Armenia’s were killed or displaced as the Ottoman Empire tried to quell civil unrest.

In related news–former Turkish prime minister Tansu Ciller has urged French President Jacques Chirac to overturn a parliamentary text that describes the massacres of Armenia’s in Turkey more than 80 years ago as genocide. Ciller asked Chirac in a letter to take "every measure to oppose and to stop" the text adopted by the French parliament–which has sparked Turkish outrage and the recall of its ambassador to Paris for consultations.

Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit said that he would announce sanctions against France within days that would punish Paris but would not damage the Turkish economy.

January 20th marked the second day of demonstrations in front of the French consulate in Istanbul–where protesters demanded Turkey to immediately withdraw its candidature for membership of the European Union.

Ankara and Paris had previously enjoyed warm ties–and Turkey had been looking to France as one of its chief supporters in its bid to join the European Union.

Ciller–now head of the opposition center-right True Path Party–told President Chirac–"This decision has deeply hurt the Turkish people."

Press reports say that several Turkish universities have decided to cancel French classes and dozens of Turkish trade and industry bodies–unions–and professional associations have called for a boycott on French goods.

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