ANKARA (Combined Sources)—From Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to parliamentary leaders to EU representatives, Turkish officials are scrambling to stay to ward off a scheduled vote on Thursday by the French legislature on a bill that would criminalize the denial of the Armenian Genocide.
Over the weekend, Erdogan blasted French President Nicolas Sarkozy and said France would bear irreparable consequences if the bill is approved by the legislature.
A group of Turkish parliamentarians held talks Monday with senior French politicians in a frantic attempt to stave off a French bill that would make it a crime to deny that Armenians were the victims of a genocide.
The delegation, led by Volkan Bozkir, president of the Turkish parliament’s foreign affairs commission, met with Alex Poniatowski, Bozkir’s counterpart in France’s National Assembly and with Pierre Moscovici, a senior member of the opposition Socialist Party.
On Tuesday they were scheduled to meet with Foreign Minister Alain Juppe and the president of the National Assembly, Bernard Accoyer before returning to Ankara on Wednesday.
A spokesman for the Turkish Embassy in Paris, Engin Solakoglu, told dpa Monday that the bill’s expected approval would lead to the immediate recall of Turkey’s ambassador and the ‘quasi-breakdown’ in relations.
Meanwhile, the Turkish president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Mevlut Cavusoglu described the consideration of the bill criminalizing the Armenian Genoicide denial in France as “one of the nonsensical moves Sarkozy has initiated.”
Cavusoglu also stressed that he interprets the French move as part of an election campaign, calling out Sarkozy for “using Turkey as a tool” toward own his political motives.
“The law that criminalizes denial of Armenian genocide is first and foremost against the principles of the council [PACE], against the principle of freedom of thought,” said Cavusoglu.
In Ankara, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu summoned more than 20 local executives last week from companies including Credit Agricole and Groupama to lobby them against the French bill.