Furious Turkey Recalls Envoy from France over Armenian Genocide

World | December 22, 2011, Thursday // 16:43|  views

The Turkish Ambassador to France has been recalled in protest at a bill making it illegal to deny the mass killing of Armenians during World War I in the Ottoman Turkish Empire was genocide.

The National Assembly in Paris voted by a show of hands to back the bill by a large majority, and it will go before the Senate next year.

Ambassador Tahsin Burcuoglu will leave France on Friday and further measures will be announced in Turkey by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the BBC reported.

Earlier, Turkey's main political parties issued a joint statement condemning the bill, saying it "denigrates Turkish history", and there have been protests outside the French embassy in the Turkish capital, Ankara.

The bill's author, Valerie Boyer from France's ruling conservative UMP party, said she was "shocked" at Turkey's intervention.

"My bill doesn't aim at any particular country. It is inspired by European law, which says that the people who deny the existence of the genocides must be sanctioned," Boyer explained.

Jean-Christophe Lagarde, an MP from the New Centre party, said: "Laws voted in this chamber cannot be dictated by Ankara."

Turkey rejects the term "genocide" to describe the killing of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire.

Under the bill, those publicly denying genocide would face a year in jail and a fine of EUR 45 000.

Armenians say up to 1.5m people were killed by the Ottoman Turks in 1915-16.

Ankara says closer to 300,000 people died, and that Turks were also killed as Armenians rose up against the Ottoman Empire when Russian troops invaded eastern Anatolia, now eastern Turkey.

More than 20 countries have formally recognized the killings as genocide.

Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian has thanked the French parliament for supporting the bill.

"I would like to once again express my gratitude to France's top leadership, to the National Assembly, and to the French people," he said in the Armenian capital Yerevan.

He added that France had "once again proved its commitment to universal human values".

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Tags: Valerie Boyer, Recep Tayipp Erdogan, French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, Armenian Genocide, genocide, Ottoman Empire, Ottoman Turkish Empire, Ottoman Turkey, turkey, Turkish, French Senate, French National Assembly, Armenians, Armenia, France, Turkish Prime Minister, Edward Nalbandian


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