Turkey cuts off France over bill on genocide
Published 23/12/2011 | 05:00
TURKEY has halted military co-operation with France, and suspended political visits, in retaliation for a French bill making it a criminal offence to deny the 1915 mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks were genocide.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, said the vote, which received cross-party support in France's National Assembly, would open "very grave and irreparable wounds" in bilateral relations.
Turkey, a Nato member, is a key ally of France, and the pair have worked closely together on tackling crises from Syria to Afghanistan.
Ankara had been piling on pressure for the law to be scrapped in recent days, threatening grave consequences.
Mr Erdogan said he was recalling the ambassador in Paris for consultations. "As of now, we are cancelling bilateral level political, economic and military activities," he said.
This means French military planes have no authorisation to land, and warships to dock, in the country.
Turkey categorically rejects the term "genocide" to describe the deaths of up to 1.5 million Christian Armenians in World War One.
Many Armenians and historians say the Ottoman government pursued a deliberate policy of genocide. But the vast majority of Turks and their politicians take the term as an insult to their nation, arguing there was heavy loss of life on both sides.
The bill, which must be approved by the Senate, was put forward by members of President Nicolas Sarkozy's ruling party. (© Daily Telegraph, London)