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Turkish warning over ‘genocide’ claims

Turkey’s nationalist coalition partner has proposed a bill imposing sanctions against any country whose governments accuse Turks of genocide against Armenians.

The bill, put forward by the Nationalist Action Party (MHP) on Wednesday, follows a French parliamentary vote last week recognising claims that Ottoman Turks systematically massacred 1.5 million Armenians in 1915.

A similar bill was passed by the European parliament and resolutions have been brought before the Italian and U.S. legislatures.

The Motherland Party, coalition partner of the MHP, said parliament would also consider a separate bill accusing France of conducting genocide against Algerians during the collapse of colonial rule there.

“The parliament recognises and condemns the genocide that France carried out in Algeria between 1954 and 1962,” MP Bulent Akarcali said in a statement.

Deputies from the main opposition Virtue Party also tabled a motion to formally recognise the killings of Algerians as genocide. It was not clear when parliament would vote on the measures.

Turkey angrily rejects genocide allegations, arguing that both Armenians and Turks suffered losses during clashes at the onset of World War I and before the creation of modern-day Turkey in 1923.

But Armenians say 1.5 million people died in massacres and mass deportations towards the end of the Ottoman Empire. Many died in the long “marches” south into the Syrian desert, they say.

The new law would give the cabinet the power to invoke swift counter-measures against nations that formally condemn Turkey, the state-run Anatolian news agency said.

Sanctions would include barring those countries from lucrative public tender offers, curbing the exchange of goods and services and downgrading political and cultural relations.

Turkey said on Tuesday that it had cancelled a $149 million satellite contract with France-based Alcatel and may exclude French state-owned arms maker GIAT from a tank tender, worth some $7.1 billion.

Ankara has also recalled its ambassador from Paris for consultations. France is a NATO ally and a member of the European Union, which Turkey aims to join.

The United States Congress abandoned a “genocide” resolution, promoted by Armenian pressure groups, last year after the intervention of then U.S. President Bill Clinton.

A motion, which carries less force than a bill, has been passed by the Italian parliament.

And the European Parliament late last year passed a non-binding measure accusing Turks of genocide.

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