Turkey Threatens French with Sanctions over Armenian Genocide Law

ANKARA (AFP)–Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened France with trade sanctions if it adopts a bill making it illegal to deny the Armenian genocide–a Turkish newspaper said Sunday.

"Patience has its limits. We do not have hatred (towards France) but we will impose our sanctions," the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet quoted Erdogan as saying at a summit of Muslim countries on the Indonesian island of Bali.

French lawmakers are due to consider this Thursday a bill from the opposition Socialist Party (PS) which would make anyone denying the Armenian genocide liable to a five-year jail term and a 45,000 Euro (57,000 Dollar) fine.

French members of parliament should be "particularly sensitive" to the issue of possible sanctions since France is the number one investor in Turkey–Erdogan said. "There will possibly be problems," he added.

France has angered Ankara in the past over the Armenian genocide. In 2001 it adopted a law officially recognizing the massacres that took place starting in 1915 as genocide.

Several French businesses were excluded from invitations to conduct business in Turkey amid calls for a boycott of French products following the 2001 law.

French exports to Turkey in 2001 law plunged by 3.53 billion dollars–according to Turkish figures. But analysts predict the latest law could have a far greater impact on trade between the two countries than the 2001 bill.

Turkey has reached record rates of growth in the past five years and bilateral trade between the countries in 2005 was worth at least 9.6 billion dollars.

The 430-member Turkish chamber of commerce has intensified appeals to French leaders including a letter to President Jacques Chirac–urging them to abandon Thursday’s vote.

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