EU attacks Turkish boycott

THE EUROPEAN Union yesterday warned Turkey that it could be facing a trade war with the bloc if it continues to raise the stakes in a furious diplomatic row over Italy's refusal to hand over the Kurdish guerrilla leader Abdullah Ocalan.

The European Commission President Jacques Santer told Ankara that Brussels would not hesitate to retaliate with economic sanctions if it finds Turkey to be in breach of its international legal obligations.

Mr Santer said any official boycott by Turkey of Italian exports or services would be a violation of political and trade agreements dating back to 1963. The Commission also made it clear that the dispute would inflict further damage on Turkey's bid for EU membership.

On Monday Turkey pulled the plug on Italian state television cable channels and yesterday it indicated that Italian companies would not be invited to tender for defence contracts.