Turkey signalled on Friday, Dec 23 that business reprisals against France will be restricted, saying there are obligations it has to obey in line with World Trade Organization (WTO) and Customs Union norms.
“Turkey has obligations. The Turkish state can’t do this given the WTO and Customs Union rules,” Turkey’s Ambassador to France, Tahsin Burcuoрlu, told reporters when asked to comment on a possible boycott of French goods in response to a French vote on Thursday to criminalize Armenian Genocide denial.
Burcuoрlu did indicate, however, that the “man on the street” has the right to decide what goods to buy and what not to buy.
The French National Assembly, the lower house of the French Parliament, adopted a bill on Thursday that sets a punishment of up to a year in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros for those who deny the Armenian Genocide.
Turkish businessmen earlier warned that French business interests would be also harmed if such a bill were to become law, referring to orders made by Turkish Airlines for Airbus aircraft and planned investments worth billions of dollars in the energy sector for which French companies would likely be bidders.
However, the French government has warned Turkey against imposing unilateral trade sanctions, reminding Ankara of its obligations under WTO rules and its Customs Union agreement with the European Union.
“We have to remember international rules and Turkey is a member of the WTO and is linked to the European Union by a customs union, and these two commitments mean a non-discriminatory policy towards all companies within the European Union,” said French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero.
The Turkish government has ruled out an embargo, but hinted that a boycott against French goods is not out of the question. “There will be an effect on consumer preferences,” said Turkish Science, Technology and Industry Minister Nihat Ergьn.
Burcuoрlu spoke to reporters upon his return from Paris. He flew to Turkey on Friday after he was recalled indefinitely to Ankara for consultation. His return to Ankara is one of several measures against France that was announced by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoрan on Thursday.
Erdoрan said Turkey was cancelling all economic, political and military meetings with its NATO partner and said it would deny permission for French military planes to land and for warships to dock in Turkey.
French Foreign Affairs Minister Alain Juppe, speaking to journalists after the vote, urged Turkey not to overreact to the assembly decision, calling for “good sense and moderation,” Today’s Zaman reported.