24th Jan 2021

Turkey threatens more sanctions over French genocide law

  • The French bill is causing a rift with Turkey (Photo: svenwerk)

French senators on Monday (23 January) voted in a bill to outlaw denial of the Armenian genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Turks in 1915, prompting strong threats of economic retaliation from Ankara.

President Nicolas Sarkozy is widely expected to ratify the new measure in February in a move that Turkey said it would punish with "permanent sanctions if it is passed to law."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"This is totally unfair ... The historical interpretation of events cannot be judged by French legislation. No parliament has such a right nor such a competence," Turkey's spokesperson for foreign affairs Selcuk Unal told EUobserver from Ankara on Tuesday.

Unal declined to comment on details of any future sanctions, adding that the main issue at stake is freedom of speech and expression.

Anyone caught denying the Armenia genocide, or the Nazi Holocaust, can face up to one year in prison and a €45,000 fine.

The vast majority of France's lower-house voted in the draft law last month. The December vote also prompted a stern response from Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who retorted that France itself committed genocide in Algeria when it wiped out 15 percent of its population.

Erdogan also claimed the bill is a stunt by Sarkozy to garner support in the upcoming presidential elections from the 500,000 or so ethnic Armenians residing in France.

Ankara has since cancelled all economic, political and military meetings with Paris, reports Reuters. Its ambassador has also left.

Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu cancelled a planned trip to Brussels on Monday. He had been scheduled to meet with EU foreign ministers over the Iranian oil embargo before heading off to Tehran.

Meanwhile, Turkey's state-run broadcaster said it plans to suspend its 15.5 percent partnership with Lyon-based Euronews if Sarkozy approves the bill, Bloomberg news reports. Other French business interests in Turkey are also under pressure, including car maker Renault and French bank BNP Paribas. Both have assets worth over €20 billion in the country.

"There will be more sanctions and this time, the sanctions will be permanent, until the change in French position," Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu said over the weekend.

Press reports indicate that around 15,000 Turks from around Europe staged a peaceful protest against the law in Paris on Saturday.

Ankara vehemently denies the genocide charge and claims the new law is both an affront to freedom of speech and an insult to Turkey.

"Politicisation of the understanding of justice and history through other people's past and damaging freedom of expression in a tactless manner are first and foremost a loss for France," Turkish authorities said in a statement released Monday.

EU and Cuba appeal for Biden to open up

The EU is coaxing US president Joe Biden to open up to Cuba amid its worst economic crisis in decades, but foreign money risks feeding the regime's "feared" rule.

Portugal's EU presidency marks return of corporate sponsors

Last year's German EU presidency refused corporate sponsorships. But the new Portuguese presidency has decided they are needed and has signed three contracts. One of them is with one of Europe's largest paper companies, The Navigator Company.

MEPs chide Portugal and Council in EU prosecutor dispute

The Belgian and Bulgarian prosecutors who were appointed had also not been the experts' first choice. Belgian prosecutor Jean-Michel Verelst has challenged the council's decision at the European Court of Justice.

News in Brief

  1. Hungary buys Russia's Sputnik V vaccine
  2. Netherlands imposes curfew to halt new corona variant
  3. Green NGO fails to stop Europe's biggest gas burner
  4. Swedish minister reminds Europe of Russia's war
  5. Spain: Jesuit order apologises for decades of sexual abuse
  6. NGOs urge Borrell to address Egypt rights 'crisis'
  7. EU conflict-area education aid favours boys
  8. EU told to avoid hydrogen in building renovations

EU and Cuba appeal for Biden to open up

The EU is coaxing US president Joe Biden to open up to Cuba amid its worst economic crisis in decades, but foreign money risks feeding the regime's "feared" rule.


A digital euro - could it happen?

"Banknotes are still to stay," European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde said at a recent conference, "but I think we will have a digital euro."

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  2. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!
  6. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice

Latest News

  1. EU leaders keep open borders, despite new corona variant risk
  2. EU and Cuba appeal for Biden to open up
  3. Portugal's EU presidency marks return of corporate sponsors
  4. MEPs chide Portugal and Council in EU prosecutor dispute
  5. EU warns UK to be 'very careful' in diplomatic status row
  6. A digital euro - could it happen?
  7. US returns to climate deal and WHO, as EU 'rejoices'
  8. Big tech: From Trump's best friend to censorship machine?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us