France Seals Recognition of Armenian Genocide in Ottoman Empire

World | January 23, 2012, Monday // 23:37|  views

Franco-Turkish demonstrators wave French and Turkish flags as they protest against a senate vote on a bill making it illegal to deny that the killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks nearly a century ago was a genocide, near the French Senate in Paris, Franc

The French Senate has adopted the bill that makes it a crime to deny that Armenians suffered genocide at the hands of Ottoman Turks during World War 1, defying Turkey's warnings.

The French Senate adopted the bill late on Monday without any amendments, with 127 votes in favor and 86 votes against. The National Assembly, or the lower house of parliament, already approved the bill in December 2011.

The bill, which punishes denial of genocides recognized by France by a year in prison and EUR 45 000 euros ( USD 57 000) in fines, has therefore now been fully adopted.

France now officially recognizes two genocides: the Nazi Holocaust of Jews during World War II and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Armenians in eastern Turkey between 1915 and 1917. The country already has a law punishing Holocaust denial.

Turkey, which denies that the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Armenians in eastern Turkey between 1915 and 1917 amounted to genocide, had threatened diplomatic and economic sanctions in the event of the bill passing the Senate. Ankara had already announced a first round of punitive measures against Paris in December.

Several hundred people demonstrated outside the French Senate as the sparsely-attended debate got underway. A group of French protesters of Turkish origin denounced the bill as an attempt to impose a French reading of history. On the other side of a phalanx of riot police, a group of Franco-Armenians demonstrated in support of the legislation.

Many French senators ducked out of voting on a bill that was supported by the main parties despite its risk to relations with a NATO ally, DPA reported.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Monday warned France not to underestimate Turkey, saying Ankara had prepared a raft of punitive measures.

Many Turks already feel betrayed by France because of President Nicolas Sarkozy's firm opposition to Turkey joining the European Union.

After December's Assembly vote, Ankara had already suspended bilateral cooperation and temporarily recalled its ambassador.

The Turkish Embassy in Paris says that this time, diplomatic ties could be downgraded, and that French firms could find themselves frozen out of Turkish government contracts.

The French foreign ministry on Monday called for restraint and emphasized the importance of Turkey "as a partner and ally."

Opening the debate in the Senate, Patrick Ollier, the minister in charge of relations with parliament, said the bill was "not about stating history but about treating genocides recognized by France equally."

Armenians say around 1.5 million people were killed or died during forced marches to the Syrian desert between 1915 and 1917.

Turkey estimates between 300,000 and 500,000 people died but rejects the genocide label, saying that there was no systematic policy to destroy the Christian Armenian community. Turkey says that many Muslim Turks also died in the violence, which took place during World War I.

Turkish PM Erdogan has accused Sarkozy of using the bill, which was proposed by a member of the ruling party, to win the support of France's small but influential Armenian community ahead of this year's presidential and parliamentary elections.

Before becoming president in 2007, Sarkozy - who is expected to seek reelection in April - promised the Armenian community to push through legislation banning genocide denial.

We need your support so can keep delivering news and information about Bulgaria! Thank you!

Tags: Armenian Genocide, France, turkey, Senate, Ottoman Empire, genocide, Ottoman Turkey, Ottoman Turkish Empire, Armenians, Armenia, World War I, Ahmet Davutoglu, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Nicolas Sarkozy


» Related Articles: