Turkey Warns Of ‘Rupture’ With France


United Press International UPI
Jan 24 2012

PARIS, Jan. 24 (UPI) — Turkey threatened to downgrade its French
ties to an all-time low after France’s Senate criminalized denial of
the Armenian genocide of nearly a century ago.

Turkish Ambassador to France Tahsin Burcuoglu said the 127-86 vote,
following passage in the Parliament’s lower house last month, would
lead to a “total rupture” of Franco-Turk relations.

“When I say total rupture, I include things like I can leave
definitively,” Burcuoglu told reporters, suggesting he could be
recalled to Turkey permanently.

The bill, which French President Nicolas Sarkozy is expected to sign
into law by February, would impose a fine of more than $58,000 and a
year in jail on those who deny any officially recognized genocide. It
makes no reference to the estimated 1.5 million Armenians slaughtered
under the Ottoman Turks between 1915 and 1918.

France recognizes only the Armenian massacre and the Holocaust as
genocides and already specifically bans Holocaust denial.

“You can also expect that now diplomatic relations will be at the level
of charges d’affaires, not ambassadors anymore,” Burcuoglu said Monday.

A charge d’affaires is the lowest-rank envoy under the 1961 Vienna
Convention on Diplomatic Relations — a step above breaking diplomatic

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu warned of “permanent
sanctions,” calling the bill a “black stain” on France.

Turkey has already suspended military cooperation, bilateral political
accords and economic contracts with France over the bill.

It raised the possibility Monday of withdrawing support for the
French-based 24-hour news channel Euronews, in which Turkey’s national
public broadcaster holds a 15.5 percent stake, The New York Times

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was expected to outline
possible retaliatory measures against Paris before Parliament Tuesday.

Turkey has a law that is a mirror image of the French bill, prohibiting
descriptions of the Armenian killings as genocide. Turkey says such
descriptions insult Turkish identity.

Ankara acknowledges atrocities, but argues no more than 500,000
Armenians died and says the killings did not constitute deliberate
and systematic genocide.

It says many Turks perished during those years of war.

Armenia, on Turkey’s eastern border, considers Monday’s vote a
momentous act that “will be written in gold, not only in the history
of friendship between the Armenian and French peoples, but also
in the annals of the history of the protection of human rights,”
Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said.

Sarkozy wrote to Erdogan last week, hoping for “reason and dialogue”
with Turkey. He said the bill did not cite the Armenian genocide by
name. He said France recognized the “suffering endured by the Turkish
people” in the Ottoman Empire’s final years.

Sarkozy faces a difficult re-election battle, with a two-round
presidential vote April 22 and May 6. Some French opposition members
accuse Sarkozy’s party of pandering to France’s sizable Armenian

About 500,000 French citizens claim Armenian descent, the largest such
population in Europe. Those who claim Turkish descent number 400,000.

Slovenia and Switzerland treat denial of the Armenian genocide as
a crime.