Erdogan Asks French Firms to Help Defeat Genocide Bill

(Combined Sources)–Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with representatives of French companies Tuesday and warned them that a French bill criminalizing denial of Armenian genocide would damage relations between their countries–the state-owned Anatolia news agency reported. Erdogan’s spokesman confirmed the meeting took place.

The French Parliament will discuss the proposed bill next week–which would make it a crime to deny that the mass killings of Armenia’s by Ottoman Turks at the beginning of the 20th century constituted a genocide.

The French bill was proposed by the opposition Socialist Party and submitted to the French parliament. It is similar to a law making it a crime in France to deny the Holocaust of World War II.

On Monday–Turkey recalled its ambassador to Paris–Osman Koroturk–over the proposed bill. Koruturk–who went to Ankara to offer an official analysis through diplomatic channels–will return to Paris by this weekend.

Turkey is exerting efforts in diplomatic–political and economic channels against the bill in question.

Turkey has used economic leverage before to punish France for its stance on the Armenian genocide: in 2001–Turkey canceled millions of dollars worth of defense deals with French companies after lawmakers in France recognized the Genocide.

Erdogan reportedly told the assembled company representatives in Ankara that he wanted them to pressure the French government not to enact it.

"We expect executives of French firms to react to the draft law," Erdogan was quoted as saying–warning that its passage would negatively affect relations. Erdogan added that the law was not conducive to freedom of thought and expression–Anatolia reported.

As part of the concerted efforts–the Turkish Parliament Foreign Affairs Commission went to Paris Tuesday to meet with representatives of political parties represented in the French Parliament and ask for the motion to be withdrawn.

The Turkish deputies are expected to warn the French politician that the motions’ becoming law may lead to irreparable damages in bilateral relations.

Also–earlier this month–Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul was widely quoted in the Turkish news media as asking his French counterpart–"Will you throw me in jail too?" if he stated that the killings were not genocide–which is official Turkish government policy.

Meanwhile–France’s Ambassador to Ankara–Paul Poudade–said that he does not think that there will be a big crisis between the two countries.

Poudade said France’s relations with Turkey are important–but added–"at the same time–keeping ties with France–a European Union member–is also to the advantage of Turkey."

Ankara also does not expect rocky relations with Paris at this point. It has not taken any extreme measures–such as officially withdrawing the Turkish ambassador.

The temporary recalling of the ambassador–however–was a strong statement by Turkey–which faces an uphill battle to win over the French public in hopes of gaining eventual entrance to the European Union.

Turkey also recalled its ambassador to Canada over the Genocide issue–saying remarks by the Canadian prime minister recognizing the Genocide could seriously harm Turkish-Canadian relations.

Turkey has said it would return both ambassadors after consultations in Ankara.


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