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Turkey may have banned dead French soldiers' flight over Armenian genocide law

Reuters/Charles Platiau

Turkey may have banned the flight repatriating the bodies of four French soldiers killed in Afghanistan from crossing its air space in retaliation for the Armenian genocide bill recently passed by the French Senate.

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Ankara has introduced the first sanctions against France in response to the both houses of the French parliament approving a law that declared it illegal to deny that an anti-Armenian genocide took place in Turkey during World War I.

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Prime Minister Recep Tayyep Erdogan has replaced his official car, a Renault, by a Ford as a first sanction on France, according to RFI Istanbul correspondent Jérôme Bastion.

More seriously, two French warships and a military plane have had to change their route after being denied access to Turkish waters or airspace, the French ambassador to Turkey has told RFI.

France will no longer ask for permission for military missions to cross over Turkey or through its waters until the spat about the law is resolved, he said.

However, a flight carrying a French minister was allowed to fly over Turkey, the embassy says.

“So it is highly likely that the flight that was redirected was the one that was bringing back the bodies of the soldiers killed in Afghanistan on 20 January,RFI’s website in French says, adding that the minister’s flight was probably that of Defence Minister Gérard Longuet, who went to Kabul on 21 January.

Automatic authorisation for the French military to dock in or overfly Turkey was suspended when the National Assembly approved the Armenian genocide law.

A ban on ministers passing through has been threatened but is not due to take effect until the Constitutional Council rules on whether the law is valid.

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