France Said To Speed Up Vote On Armenian Genocide Bill

French media reports say France's upper house of parliament will vote this month on a bill to criminalize the denial of an Armenian genocide, at the risk of incurring further sanctions from Turkey.

French media reports say France's upper house of parliament will vote this month on a bill to criminalize the denial of an Armenian genocide, at the risk of incurring further sanctions from Turkey.

The lower house, the National Assembly, adopted the bill last month, prompting Turkey to recall its ambassador and suspend contacts and military cooperation with France.

If the bill passes the Senate, as expected, people who deny that the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks during World War I constituted genocide will face a one-year jail term and a fine of up to 45,000 euros ($58,000).

Armenia says up to 1.5 million people were killed by Ottoman Turks in 1915.

France officially recognized the Armenian genocide in a special law adopted in 2011.

Turkey reacted furiously to both the 2001 law and the latest genocide bill. Ankara claims there was heavy loss of life on both sides, and rejects the description of genocide.

Immediately after the December 22 vote, Ankara recalled its ambassador from Paris, banned French military aircraft and warships from landing and docking in Turkey and froze political and economic meetings. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan slammed the French bill as "politics based on racism, discrimination and xenophobia" and turned his anger on Sarkozy, accusing France of committing genocide in Algeria.

Turkey’s National Security Council warned on December 28 that Ankara will take further action against Paris if the French Senate passes “this unfair measure.”

Ollier indicated that the French government is unfazed by the possibility of more Turkish sanctions. “It seems to me that [the bill’s] adoption by the second assembly should not generate additional reactions from whatever source,” he told AFP.

Meanwhile, the Istanbul-based newspaper “Hurriyet Daily News” reported on January 4 that the Turkish ambassador to France, Tahsin Burcuoglu, will be sent back to Paris in the coming days to “coordinate” Turkish efforts to prevent the genocide bill’s passage by the Senate.

compiled from agency reports


Copyright (c) RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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