Several years back Turkey barred some French companies to participate in one of its arms procurement tender. Turkey doesn't allow French military air-crafts or ships to pass its territorial space. Moreover, the row continues in connection with a French parliament-bill that aims at recognizing Armenian genocide.

What is the root cause of the deterioration of French-Turkish relationship? And, when did it start to deteriorate? Why France is undermining its relationship with Turkey? Why is it so important to pass a bill that threatens the relationship?

On the other hand, Turkish-German and Turkish-Italian relationships seems not to affected.


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    Hmmm. This one is perhaps best researched by someone who knows French (not I). Things I'd look at though: 1) The aforementioned row over the Armenian Genocide, 2) France's attitude when Turkey was trying to join the EU, 3) Residual resentment from WWI (Gallipoli, France taking Syria and Lebanon, etc.) 4) France's treatment of Muslim immigrants (Turks in particular).
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Aug 9, 2012 at 13:49

2 Answers 2


First of all, France's goal is not to "undermine its relationship with Turkey" as you have implied. Instead, this is a product of France's policy of recognising what happened during WWI as a genocide.

I believe the most important part of your question is why has France been the most assertive when it comes to recognition of the Armenian genocide. This comes down to France's domestic politics since France has by far the largest Armenian diaspora population. The Armenian diaspora has always been more hardline about genocide recognition than Armenians in either Armenia or Turkey, and it has an influence in French politics.

Neither Italy nor Germany have been as aggressive in this regard, and consequently relations have not suffered. There was an informal boycott of Italian goods and companies about ten years ago, but that was to do with Kurdish issues rather than Armenian.

A related historical question is why France has such a large Armenian diaspora. Most Armenian survivors or deportees ended up in Syria and Lebanon, which became French mandates after the war. From there, they frequently emigrated to France and established the community that exists today.

  • Good answer, but France doesn't necessarily have the largest Armenian diaspora community. (See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armenian_diaspora). Similar dynamics exist in the US in terms of which states' senators vote for resolutions acknowledging the genocide.
    – two sheds
    Commented Jan 10, 2015 at 16:06

As @T.E.D. suggests this kind of things is better understood from the inside. so here is how I see it from Paris.

President Sarkozy suddenly felt a hurry to push a so called "Armenian Genocide" law just before the last presidential election in order to rally the Armenian community which is quite influential in the French microcosm. That didn't help him to stay in for a second term, as you well know, but he gave probably little thought to the fact that that would nevertheless harm the French-Turkish relationship.

There is also probably some inward looking attitude of the French Right with regard to the adhesion of Turkey to the European Union and that might also have counted in Sarkozy's cunning plan.

Add to this the now well documented propension of the French intelligentsia to lecture the world and take a moral high ground regardless of its own track record in North Africa and elsewhere and you've got petty much the whole picture.

As for me, I've worked for Turkcell like ten years ago and I must say I was very impressed by what I saw and how dynamic and dedicated my young colleagues were (some of whom, I'm still in contact with). But I doubt this is well understood everywhere in today's France.

I don't think Turkish people should answer emotionally to this kind of events. I'd bet that one will probably witness less arrogance and misunderstanding in the future because people travel more and new generations on each side will take a more critical look at the sins of their respective ancestors.

  • Good answer overall. However, I think expecting, or even hoping, that the voting public of another large democracy won't react emotionally to such a thing is a bit much to ask for. If nothing else, just as you do they have their own politicians who would also find it useful to pump up emotional sentiment to get re-elected.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Aug 9, 2012 at 16:30
  • @T.E.D. Very true! But I honestly think it's also a matter of social class within each country. Xenophobia is very much a thing that goes hand in hand with poor education. The French upper class is largely Anglophile and my feeling is that the English upper class is conversely quite Francophile as well (see Edward VII for instance). As the education level rises in many countries, demagogue politicians shall hopefully need to be more thoughtful as time goes by. Thx for the edition btw. Commented Aug 9, 2012 at 18:39
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    @T.E.D. - "I think expecting, or even hoping, that the voting public of another large democracy won't react emotionally to such a thing is a bit much to ask for" - you never heard Hitler speak (and the crowd reactions to that), have you? The crowds in a democracy are just as dumb and prone to stupid emotional responses as anywhere.
    – DVK
    Commented Nov 13, 2012 at 16:57
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    @AlainPannetier - Your first part was right on the nail. The civilizations/cultures too enthralled with the "global village" idea will very quickly be overcome by those who possess that evolutionary advantage of tribalism.
    – DVK
    Commented Nov 13, 2012 at 22:32
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    Read on "Armenians in France" Wikipedia article : "According to a 1996 survey in France 69% of respondents were aware of the Armenian Genocide, of which 75% agreed that the French government should officially recognize it."
    – Emmanuel
    Commented Jan 13, 2015 at 13:13

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