Ankara mulls boycott of French businesses

ANKARA – Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said yesterday Turkey was studying retaliatory measures against France following the approval of a law making it a crime to deny Armenians suffered genocide at the hands of Ottoman Turks. «Turkey’s foreign trade volume with France is $10 billion and this is equal to 1.5 percent of France’s whole foreign trade volume. We’re going to make the proper calculations and then take necessary steps,» Erdogan said in a speech. He did not elaborate, but said the government would take measures within Turkey and abroad. France’s lower house of parliament voted for the bill on Thursday, despite warnings from French firms that it would create repercussions for their business in Turkey, a fast-growing market which imported 4.7 billion euros’ worth of French goods in 2005. «There are no real threats in current trade, though perhaps (there could be) with some big contracts,» a French Foreign Ministry spokesman told reporters at a regular briefing in Paris. The bill still needs approval from the upper house, the Senate, and President Jacques Chirac to take effect. Turkey denies claims that Armenians suffered genocide in Turkey during World War I, arguing that large numbers of both Muslim Turks and Christian Armenians died in a partisan conflict that accompanied the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Hundreds of French firms such as Renault and Carrefour have large investments in Turkey, employing thousands of Turkish workers. This week Turkish consumer groups and some trade unions called for boycotts of French products.