Turkey cuts contacts with France over bill

Members of the French Assembly vote a resolution on ‘genocide’ yesterday in Paris. AFP photo

Turkish prime minister says Turkey cancels all military cooperation and political consultation with France in protest of a resolution penalizing denial of Armenian ‘genocide’ which is approved by French assembly yesterday.

Turkey announced it cancelled bilateral military and economic cooperation and suspended all bilateral political consultation with France, describing the French vote as doing politics via racism and xenophobia ahead of presidential elections.
“This is the first state [of measures against France]. New measures could be brought to the agenda and implemented according to progress of the bill in France,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said yesterday in a joint press conference with his Ukrainian counterpart.
Erdoğan blamed the French leader of trying to “gain favor over Turcophobia and Islamophobia in general terms just for individual ambitions.”
The prime minister said they would travel to other countries in the world and tell of the “genocides” carried out by France, which the country had tried to make forgotten.
As a reaction to Paris’ vote, Erdoğan said Turkey recalled its ambassador to France.
“From now on, we cancel all bilateral military and economic visits, including courses, seminars and personnel exchange activities,” Erdoğan said. Turkey would not cooperate with France in projects of the EU, he said.
Ankara suspended all political consultations and cancelled bilateral military activities and joint military exercises, he said.
Turkey also cancelled blanket permission for flyovers, takeoffs and landings of French military flights, Turkey’s premier said, but individual permission would be applied.
Erdoğan announced Turkey cancelled permissions of port visits by military ships. Turkey would not participate in a bilateral economic and trade partnership meeting in 2012, he said.
The prime minister thanked prudent French politicians who rejected the bill. “We hope they would not go a way with no return,” he said.
Storm of outrage
The adoption of the bill sparked condemnations across the political spectrum.
EU Minister Egemen Bağış denounced the bill as a breach of EU acquis. “Freedom of expression is one of the most important goals of the EU. The EU and EU member states, which say they care about freedom of expression, are assuming a very wrong attitude by trying to limit freedom of expression,” he said. Turkey would not let this resolution affect its EU membership process, he said.
Bağış also said France owed Turkey “a historic apology” for having failed to protect Turkish diplomats and other citizens who were killed on its soil by the Armenian terrorist group ASALA.
Some of the harshest reactions came from Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), whose leader Devlet Bahçeli said the adoption of the bill would go down in history as “a great scandal and a black stain.” Bahçeli said the government’s “submissive policies” emboldened “the enmity camp erected against our country.” He said protocols aimed at normalizing ties with Armenia must be scrapped for good and the government must apologize for having launched the initiative.
Main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said the bill flouted France’s deep-rooted liberal traditions. “France is betraying its own history. France, the symbol of freedoms, is handcuffing freedom of expression with the decisions of politicians. It is impossible to understand.” ‘Turkey may sue France’
CHP deputy Rıza Türmen, a former judge at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), said Turkey has the option to sue France at the Strasbourg-based court over the bill, but the move would bear a heavy political cost.
The outcome of an ECHR case involving Labor Party leader Doğu Perinçek, now in jail over alleged anti-government plots regarding his “denial” conviction in Switzerland where there is a similar law, would be crucial, Türmen said.
The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) joined the criticism even though it withheld support for a joint parliamentary declaration this week. “Parliamentary decisions cannot determine historical and sociological events,” the BDP’s Hasip Kaplan said. However, he urged Turkey to face up to its history, pointing at Germany’s example.

FIRST PHASE OF RESPONSE

 

Bilateral trips and educational activities of military, economic and political nature canceled.
No cooperation with France on EU twinning projects. All political consultation with France canceled.
All bilateral military activities canceled.
Previous blanket permission for military flights canceled.
No permission for French military ships to visit Turkish ports.

23 December 2011
ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News