Thursday, December 22, 2011

France debates Armenia 'genocide' despite Turkish anger

France's parliament has begun debating a bill that would criminalise denying that the killing of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire during WWI was genocide.
Those publicly denying the genocide would face a year in jail and a fine of 45,000 euros (£29:000: $58,000).
Armenians say up to 1.5m people were killed by the Ottoman Turks in 1915.
Turkey rejects that figure and the genocide description, and has warned France of "serious repercussions" if the bill becomes law.
Ankara says closer to 300,000 people died, and that Turks were also killed when Armenians rose up against the Ottoman Empire when Russian troops invaded eastern Anatolia, now eastern Turkey
More than 20 countries, including France, formally recognised the killings as genocide.
But the BBC's Hugh Schofield in Paris says French deputies now want to go a step further.
Hundreds of people from Franco-Turkish organisations demonstrated against the bill close to the National Assembly building in Paris on Thursday morning.
One of the co-signatories of the bill, Patrick Devedjian, a former government minister of Armenian origin, told reporters that it wasn't France's Turkish community that had organised the protests but "the Turkish government with its Turkish flags and its agents".
The Turkish government has responded angrily to the proposed law, warning of economic consequences.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the move was aimed at boosting support for French President Nicolas Sarkozy ahead of elections next year, and would "harm Franco-Turkish relations".
He said Turkey was considering imposing sanctions against France in response, the Anatolia news agency reports.
Responding to Mr Erdogan's assertion that the plan was an attempt to secure the votes of ethnic Armenians, Mr Devedjian said: "if elections can help advance human rights, then I think that's no bad thing."
Turkey's ruling and opposition parties issued a joint statement condemning the proposal, saying it "denigrates Turkish history," while there have been protests outside the French embassy in the Turkish capital, Ankara.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said he hoped France would "not step on a great and(...)More.

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