PARIS (Agence France Presse)—Turkish President Abdullah Gul joined the chorus of protests as Turkey continued to pile pressure on France Tuesday to drop a proposed law making it illegal to deny the Armenian genocide, warning its adoption will spark a diplomatic crisis and have economic consequences.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul urged France to drop the bill.
“It is not possible for us to accept this bill, which denies us the freedom to reject unfair and groundless accusations targeting our country and our nation,” Gul said in a statement from Ankara.
“I want to hope that France will not sacrifice centuries-old Turkish-French friendship, common interests and bonds of alliance for small political calculations,” Gul said, alluding to next year’s elections in France.
The French parliament is to debate the bill, which would see anyone in France who publicly denies the genocide facing a year in jail and a fine of $58,000 (45,000 euros), on Thursday and is expected to approve it.
A delegation of Turkish lawmakers and businessmen met with officials in Paris, among them Foreign Minister Alain Juppe and President Nicolas Sarkozy’s foreign policy advisor Jean-David Levitte, and argued the law was an attempt to win support among voters of Armenian origin ahead.
“Mr. Alain Juppe reminded his guests that Turkey is for France a friend and ally, with which it has always sought dialogue,” the foreign ministry said.
Juppe told the Turks that Paris and Ankara have many vital common interests and argued these were “sufficiently strong to overcome the challenges that might confront or relationship.”
“Every five years this question comes up ahead of the elections,” said delegation member Umit Boyner, chairwoman of the Turkish Industry and Business Association.
“If this law is adopted, there will be a lot of damage and consequences for the two countries,” warned Rifat Hisarciklioglu, the head of the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges, who was leading the delegation of Turkish businessmen.
Turkey has urged France to block the bill, or face “serious and irreparable” consequences for Franco-Turkish relations.
A Turkish government source told AFP on Tuesday that it would impose diplomatic and trade sanctions on Paris if French lawmakers adopt the law.
“Turkey will not remain silent. That will obviously have consequences,” the source said. “We have already discussed our plans if the bill is adopted at the French National Assembly on Thursday.”
Among the sanctions, Turkey will recall its ambassador to Paris for consultations and ask the French ambassador in Ankara to leave, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Ankara is also planning trade sanctions targeting French interests in the country, though the government has so far avoided openly using the term of “boycott” against French products.
Close to 1,000 French companies in Turkey, as well as those in partnership with Turkish companies, will be excluded from public contracts, especially in the field of transport, according to the source.
The French foreign ministry spokesman, Bernard Valero, however said Turkey was bound by international agreements to not discriminate against French companies.
Turkey “is a member of the World Trade Organization and is linked to the European Union by a customs union agreement. These two legal commitments require non-discrimination in regards to EU companies,” the source said.
France recognized the killings as genocide in 2001.