Ankara prepares measures on Paris

Ankara prepares measures on Paris

Serkan Demirtaş ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Ankara prepares measures on Paris

Protesters shout slogans as they stand behind a banner, which reads: “France stop!”, during a protest in Ankara. REUTERS photo

Turkey will freeze all economic and diplomatic cooperation and cease all discussion of international issues with Paris if France’s parliament adopts a bill penalizing the denial of the 1915 events as genocide, diplomatic sources have said.

“We will not remain silent. The adoption of the bill will have consequences,” a diplomat speaking on condition of anonymity told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday.

A bill stipulating a one-year jail term and a fine of 45,000 euros for those who deny that the 1915 events constituted genocide will be voted on in the French Parliament’s lower house on Dec. 22.
“We will swiftly announce measures against France if it is adopted,” the diplomat said. The bill is likely to be passed as no lawmaker is expected to “dare” voting against it due to the looming presidential elections in France, he added.

According to diplomatic sources, if the bill is approved, Turkish Ambassador to Paris Tahsin Burcuoğlu would be withdrawn for consultations. He is already scheduled to return to Ankara for a week-long ambassadors’ conference Dec. 22. “His trip to Ankara coincides with the French vote, but his stay in Ankara is open-ended,” one source said.

In addition to the ambassador, Turkey’s military attaché is also expected to be withdrawn as part of the Turkish Armed Forces’ institutional reaction against France. The suspension of military cooperation, except that which is being conducted under NATO auspices, is also among the options.

It is unlikely that Turkey will declare the French envoy in Ankara persona non grata but it would not be surprising if France recalls the ambassador and the attaché for talks, according to sources.

Action taken immediately following the vote would only be the initial stage of the legislative procedure; “some measures will be implemented in future phases of the process,” one source said.

In line with withdrawing the ambassador, Turkey will halt all political dialogue with France on bilateral and international level. “No one should expect the continuation of our cooperation in regard to Syria or other regional issues,” a source said. “No doubt Turkey will do everything it can to prevent any international meetings convening in France.”

As the bill is aimed at restricting the freedom of speech of those who have different views on the nature of the mass killings of Armenians during World War I, Turkish diplomats are voicing their intention of taking the issue to the European Union and other international organizations. “This bill surely stands against European values and is threatening thousands of Turkish people living in France. We are looking into ways to lodge complaints with relevant international bodies.”

Scheduled economic or political meetings will be also canceled, such as a joint economic commission meeting scheduled for Jan. 24, 2012.

French companies will continue to be blacklisted in state procurement tenders, especially in the fields of the defense industry and nuclear energy. This policy was initially aimed at mobilizing French companies looking for ways to participate in the relevant tenders.

In another retaliatory move, Turkey is also considering canceling an agreement for the purchase of around 70 passenger carriers from Airbus.