TURKEY SAYS TIES DAMAGED BY FRENCH APPROVAL OF ARMENIA GENOCIDE BILL

International Herald Tribune. France
The Associated Press
Oct 12 2006

ANKARA, Turkey Turkey's foreign minister said the country would
consider retaliatory measures against France, and unions called for a
trade boycott after French lawmakers on Thursday passed a bill making
it a crime to deny that Armenians suffered genocide at the hands of
the Ottoman Turks.

In Ankara, angry protesters pelted the French Embassy with eggs,
while others laid a black wreath at the gate of the French Consulate
in Istanbul.

"No one should harbor the conviction that Turkey will take this
lightly," Turkey's foreign minister, Abdullah Gul, said. "The
parliament will meet on Tuesday with a special agenda and no doubt
we have measures to take in every field."

Gul did not elaborate but his comments were interpreted by many as
also being a reference to proposals currently being debated by Turkish
lawmakers to recognize an "Algerian genocide" by France.

"This is a national issue, no doubt our reaction both at the official
and public level will be very big," Gul said.

He said the bill dealt a serious blow to Turkish-French relations
and seriously damaged the credibility of France as a European Union
member which defends freedom of expression.

"From now on, France will never describe itself as the homeland of
freedoms," Gul said. "It will never be proud of being the country
where ideas are freely expressed."

"This shame will really be a grave one for them," Gul said.

France in 2001 recognized the killings of up to 1.5 million Armenians
from 1915 to 1919 as genocide; under Thursday's bill, those who contest
it was genocide would risk up to a year in prison and fines of up to
[email protected],000 (US$56,000).

Armenians say the killings were part of an organized campaign to force
Armenians out of eastern Turkey. However, Turkey says the death toll
is inflated and contends that a large number of people died in civil
unrest during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

Several trade groups called for a boycott of French goods, asking
the government to oust French firms from multimillion dollar energy
and defense tenders. Turkey had removed French firms some lucrative
tenders back in 2001 when French lawmakers voted to characterize the
killings of Armenians as genocide.

Gul hinted that Turkish reaction would now be much stronger.

Bulent Deniz, president of Turkish Consumers Union, said French goods
would be boycotted.

"Every week, we will announce a French trademark and increase the
number of goods in the boycott list," Deniz said. "We will reflect
the Turkish consumers reaction in the right way to France, it is
economic sanctions."

Ahmet Ozkul, a local official of a pro-Islamic businessmen association,
MUSIAD, in the western city of Bursa, also pressed for economic
sanctions against France.

"French firms, especially those operating in environment,
transportation, energy and defense sectors, must be ousted from major
tenders," Ozkul said.

ANKARA, Turkey Turkey's foreign minister said the country would
consider retaliatory measures against France, and unions called for a
trade boycott after French lawmakers on Thursday passed a bill making
it a crime to deny that Armenians suffered genocide at the hands of
the Ottoman Turks.

In Ankara, angry protesters pelted the French Embassy with eggs,
while others laid a black wreath at the gate of the French Consulate
in Istanbul.

"No one should harbor the conviction that Turkey will take this
lightly," Turkey's foreign minister, Abdullah Gul, said. "The
parliament will meet on Tuesday with a special agenda and no doubt
we have measures to take in every field."

Gul did not elaborate but his comments were interpreted by many as
also being a reference to proposals currently being debated by Turkish
lawmakers to recognize an "Algerian genocide" by France.

"This is a national issue, no doubt our reaction both at the official
and public level will be very big," Gul said.

He said the bill dealt a serious blow to Turkish-French relations
and seriously damaged the credibility of France as a European Union
member which defends freedom of expression.

"From now on, France will never describe itself as the homeland of
freedoms," Gul said. "It will never be proud of being the country
where ideas are freely expressed."

"This shame will really be a grave one for them," Gul said.

France in 2001 recognized the killings of up to 1.5 million Armenians
from 1915 to 1919 as genocide; under Thursday's bill, those who contest
it was genocide would risk up to a year in prison and fines of up to
[email protected],000 (US$56,000).

Armenians say the killings were part of an organized campaign to force
Armenians out of eastern Turkey. However, Turkey says the death toll
is inflated and contends that a large number of people died in civil
unrest during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

Several trade groups called for a boycott of French goods, asking
the government to oust French firms from multimillion dollar energy
and defense tenders. Turkey had removed French firms some lucrative
tenders back in 2001 when French lawmakers voted to characterize the
killings of Armenians as genocide.

Gul hinted that Turkish reaction would now be much stronger.

Bulent Deniz, president of Turkish Consumers Union, said French goods
would be boycotted.

"Every week, we will announce a French trademark and increase the
number of goods in the boycott list," Deniz said. "We will reflect
the Turkish consumers reaction in the right way to France, it is
economic sanctions."

Ahmet Ozkul, a local official of a pro-Islamic businessmen association,
MUSIAD, in the western city of Bursa, also pressed for economic
sanctions against France.

"French firms, especially those operating in environment,
transportation, energy and defense sectors, must be ousted from major
tenders," Ozkul said.