ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey Wednesday warned France it would take further action against Paris should the French senate pass a bill making it a crime to deny the 1915 mass killings of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey constituted genocide.
Ankara reacted furiously when the lower house of the French parliament last week approved the bill, recalling its ambassador from Paris, banning French military aircraft and warships from landing and docking in Turkey and freezing political and economic meetings.
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan slammed the bill as “politics based on racism, discrimination and xenophobia” and turned his anger on French President Nicolas Sarkozy, accusing France of colonial massacres in Algeria.
In a statement, the National Security Council, the top state body for security matters, said it hoped “common sense” would prevail in France and that Paris would give up on its “mistake.”
France is Turkey’s fifth biggest export market and the sixth biggest source of its imports, with bilateral trade worth $14 billion in the first 10 months of 2011.
The National Security Council comprises Turkey’s top generals, Erdogan, members of the cabinet and President Abdullah Gul.
“About this subject, measures announced by the government and further additional measures would be announced depending on France’s steps,” the National Security Council said at the end of a five-hour meeting, I
“If the proposal passes into law, there will be an objection in every way against this unfair measure.”
The French bill, which will be debated in the Senate next year, has caused outrage in Turkey, which argues killings took place on all sides during a fierce partisan conflict.
Erdogan, whose personal animosity toward Sarkozy is well-known for the Frenchman’s opposition to Turkish membership of the European Union, has suggested Sarkozy was angling for ethnic Armenian votes in next year’s presidential election.
Buoyed by its fast-growing economy while Europe battles a financial crisis and angered at its stagnant bid to join the EU, Ankara feels it has little to lose in a political fight with Paris.
Turkey’s Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan has said French investments in Turkey are safe but has suggested that “consumers might take matters into their own hands.”
Additional reporting by Seltem Iyigun; Writing by Ibon Villelabeitia; Editing by Matthew Jones