EU Commission Calls On Turkey to Cool Reaction to French Law On Genocide

BRUSSELS (Agence France Presse)–The European Commission called on Turkey on Friday–February 9 for moderation in its virulent reaction to France’s official recognition of the killing of Armenia’s under the Ottoman Empire as genocide.

Commission spokesman Jean-Christophe Filori told a press briefing that it would make a legal inquiry into the economic retaliatory measures taken by Turkey after French President Jacques Chirac signed the genocide recognition into law this week.

In addition–the city of Paris said it would erect a bronze memorial to the victims of the 1915 massacres and the Armenia’s who were killed during both World Wars.

Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit said the promulgation of the French law did not come as a surprise–but he described it as a serious disappointment in our relations with France.

"We are doing what is necessary. We are reconsidering our political and economic relations," Ecevit told reporters in Ankara earlier in the week.

Turkey responded quickly by canceling a contract with France’s Dassault firm for the installation of electronic systems on 80 warplanes. The decision to oust the French company from the project–estimated at some $200 million–was taken at a meeting between officials from Turkey’s general staff and the defense ministry.

Dassault is the second French company to be excluded from a defense contract since January 18–when French deputies passed the bill signed by Chirac.

Last week–Turkey annulled a preliminary contract with Alcatel for a spy satellite–worth $200 million and warned of more economic sanctions.

On Thursday–Turkey canceled a major highway tender in which both bidding consortia included French companies.

Filori reiterated remarks by EU Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen calling on Ankara not to "over-react" to the French moves and calling it "friendly advice."

Turkey is last in line among 13 candidate countries for EU membership. Its candidate status was made contingent in last December’s Helsinki summit on Ankara accepting EU precepts on human rights–democracy and the rule of law–all conditions it has not yet satisfied.

Verheugen said it was not for the commission to issue opinions on the vote by the French parliament–which concerned "events that happened a very long time ago–even well before European construction."

Verheugen would "leave that debate to the historians," said the spokesman.

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