Turks to restore France ties after genocide row

By REUTERS
June 21, 2012 16:37

Erdogan has "positive" meeting with Hollande, drops sanctions enacted amid dispute over Armenian genocide denial law.

1 minute read.



Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan 311 (R). (photo credit:REUTERS/Umit Bektas)

ANKARA - Turkey has agreed to restore all ties with France, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Thursday, following a breakdown in relations last year prompted by a simmering dispute over the 1915 mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks.

Ankara cancelled all economic, political and military meetings with Paris in December after France's lower house of parliament voted overwhelmingly in favor of a draft law to make it illegal to deny that the killings amounted to genocide.

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France's highest court overturned the law two months later but the Turkish measures taken against France, which included restrictions on French military aircraft and ships landing or docking on its territory, have remained in place.

Speaking live on Turkish television, Davutoglu said Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan had ordered the sanctions be lifted after a positive meeting with France's new President Francois Hollande at a world summit in Brazil.

"The prime minister gave the necessary instructions after meeting with Hollande. Because of this new attitude from France, these sanctions will be dropped," Davutoglu said during an interview with news broadcaster CNN Turk.

Davutoglu said he would travel to Paris on July 5 for bilateral meetings where they would discuss taking additional "positive steps" in the future.

Relations between the countries became strained under former French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his election defeat earlier this year was viewed in Ankara as a chance to start a new phase.

Muslim Turkey accused Sarkozy, whose UMP party put forward the bill, of trying to win the votes of 500,000 ethnic Armenians in the two-round presidential vote on April 22 and May 6.

Sarkozy had also been one of the most vocal opponents of Turkish European Union membership.

Armenia, backed by many historians and parliaments, says about 1.5 million Christian Armenians were killed in what is now eastern Turkey during World War One in a deliberate policy of genocide ordered by the Ottoman government.

Turkey says there was a heavy loss of life on both sides during the fighting in which Armenian partisans supported invading Russian forces.

The Ottoman Empire collapsed after the end of the war, but successive Turkish governments and the vast majority of Turks feel the charge of genocide is a direct insult to their nation.

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