French army change route after Turkish ban
French state aircraft and warships are no longer using Turkish airspace and territorial waters after permission requests in three different cases were rejected by the Turkish government, France’s top diplomat in Ankara said, amid the ongoing spat over a French law penalizing the denial of Armenian genocide.
“Our requests [for an aircraft and two warships] have been rejected, so we are no longer issuing such requests. We are using alternative routes,” France’s Ambassador to Turkey Laurent Bili told the private news channel CNN Türk in an interview.
Bili said the first rejection was to a request for a French military aircraft that wanted to use Turkish airspace on its way to France from Afghanistan. Similarly, two French warships were not allowed to enter Turkish territorial waters recently. Turkey’s move against the French military was part of sanctions imposed against France after the adoption of the law at French Parliament late December last year.
Though enough numbers of lawmakers and senators were collected to take the law to the Constitutional Council for possible annulment, Bili’s words revealed the process was not an easy one.
“There was such an atmosphere [in Ankara] that necessitated my return to France,” Bili said, adding that the Turkish reaction against the move was a surprise for many French people but did not affect Turkey’s image in the country. “France attaches great importance to its relationship with Turkey. We need to be calm. The law is not aimed against Turkey […] The number of Armenians living in France is 10 times more than the number of Armenians in Turkey. They have become a part of French history. I understand how sensitive issues are concerning ancestors, but cutting off ties is not a good idea.”
The French Constitutional Council must conclude its study on the law by Feb. 29 if the government does not demand the speeding up of the process and give its verdict in eight days. If it does not embrace the law, the council will either fully reject the law or will demand a partial amendment. In both cases, the legislative process will have to start from scratch.
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