Turkey announced on Thursday the suspension of political and military cooperation with France after French lawmakers approved a bill making it a crime to deny Armenian genocide.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan Erdogan said Turkey will recall its ambassador from Paris and suspend mutual political visits as well as joint military projects, including joint exercises.
He said the bill would open “very grave” and “irreparable” wounds in ties with leading EU member and fellow NATO member France.
“From now on we are revising our relations with France,” he said.
Most of the sanctions imposed on France will be in the military sphere.
But Erdogan said Ankara will also halt political consultations with Paris. Both countries were engaged in intensive dialogue over the latest developments in the Middle East including the crisis in Syria.
Turkey will now decide on a case-by-case on every military demand made by EU member France to use Turkish airspace and military bases, Erdogan said, and will from now on reject any French demand for its military vessels to dock at Turkish ports.
He said Turkey would boycott a joint economic committee meeting in Paris in January and would not take part in twinning projects with France.
France’s lower house of parliament approved the bill, which makes it a crime to deny that the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Armenians at the hands of Turkish Ottoman forces amounted to a genocide during World War I.
Erdogan accused French lawmakers who backed the bill of making political decisions on the basis of “racism, discrimination and xenophobia”.
“There is no genocide committed in our history. We do not accept it,” said Erdogan.
He also lashed out at French President Nicolas Sarkozy, accusing him of electioneering ahead of next year’s presidential election to win the votes of 500,000 Armenians living in France.
“History and people will never forgive those exploiting historical facts to achieve political ends,” said Erdogan.
Turkey and France have enjoyed close ties since Ottoman Empire times, coupled with strong economic links, but relations took a downturn after Sarkozy became president in 2007 and raised vocal objections to Turkey’s EU accession.
Erdogan said the law was against freedom of expression.
“Is there freedom of thought and freedom of expression in France?” he said. “Let me give the answer: No.”
He said the French parliament had trampled on freedom, equality and fraternity, the symbols of the French revolution.