Turkey Asks French Senators To Reject Armenia 'Genocide' Bill

Turkey has asked French senators to reject a bill which makes it a crime to deny that the mass killings of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey were a "genocide."

Turkey has asked French senators to reject a bill which makes it a crime to deny that the mass killings of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey were a "genocide."

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, in televised comments on January 20, maintained that it was not right for France, as a country not directly implicated in the issue, to get involved in what amounts to an internal affair for Turkey.

"The discussion that will take place in the French Senate in the days ahead is beyond the Turkish-Armenian debate, and also beyond a third-party intervention in relations between two countries," he said.

"It is not right for a third country -- France -- to intervene in the history of two countries," he added. "It is not right and it is not fair. Removing freedom of expression, sentencing those who express their opinions is against the most basic principles of modern society."

Davutoglu said that Turkey expects France "to respect European values before anything else."

He said that "if the bill passes, it will remain as a black stain in France's intellectual history. And [Turkey] will always remind them of this black stain."

The French lower house approved the bill last month, threatening with jail anyone who denies that the mass killings of Armenians in 1915 were genocide -- something Turkey denies.

A Senate panel this week indicated that it would be unconstitutional for France to make it illegal to deny that the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks constituted genocide.

The panel also said that if the bill passed it would violate other statutes, including one on freedom of speech.

Nonetheless, the non-binding recommendation will not stop the vote going ahead on January 23, with the Senate leaders of President Nicolas Sarkozy's Union for a Popular Movement party (UMP) and the opposition Socialists saying they would vote in favor of the bill.

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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