Turkey cuts support for sailing race

Turkey cuts support for sailing race

Zeynal Lüle - ISTANBUL / Hürriyet
Turkey cuts support for sailing race

PM Erdoğan starts of the Europa Race in Istanbul in May 2009. AA photo

Turkey has dropped its support for a prestigious sailing race in the wake of France’s decision to approve a bill criminalizing denials of the “Armenian genocide.”

Olay Nautic, the organizer of the Europa Race, has announced that Turkey will not financially support the event, which is scheduled to start in Istanbul on May 5 and end in La Rochelle in France on June 3.
The Europa Race, in the IMOCA class, lasts for 3,400 nautical miles and four weeks The route of this year’s race also had stopovers in Barcelona and Portsmouth.

Gaetan Gouerou, an executive board member of the International Monohull Open Class Association (IMOCA), told daily Hürriyet that they were “in shock.”

“This is a political issue and we cannot do anything about it,” said Gouerou, adding that the boats were ready for the race but the event had lost its major financial resource.

“We are considering an alternative race, Barcelona, La Rochelle and Portsmouth are still interested,” he said.

Last month, the French Senate approved a bill that was later challenged by a sufficient number of senators, who took the bill to the Constitutional Council on the grounds that the draft is unconstitutional.
The bill criminalizes denials of the 1915 events as genocide. The Turkish government has promised to impose sanctions on France once the judgment is delivered.