News / Europe

French Lawmakers Push Genocide Bill Despite Turkish Threats

Members of a pro-Islamic party shout slogans against France and French President Nicolas Sarkozy outside the French Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, December 21, 2011
Members of a pro-Islamic party shout slogans against France and French President Nicolas Sarkozy outside the French Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, December 21, 2011
Lisa Bryant

French lawmakers are to vote Thursday on a bill making genocide denial illegal, despite Turkish threats to sanction France if the law is passed. The legislation threatens to further erode bilateral relations.

The French National Assembly bill makes denial of any act of genocide punishable by a year in prison and a fine of nearly $60,000. But it has struck a particularly sensitive chord in Turkey, because France considers the World War I-era mass killings of Armenians under the former Ottoman empire an act of genocide.

During a visit to Armenia earlier this year, French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for Ankara to recognize the mass killings of Armenians as a case of genocide.

Sarkozy said Turkey should look history in the face, which only great nations are able to do. He drew parallels with France's painful rapprochement with Germany after World War II. The French bill is championed by Sarkozy's center-right UMP party, although it has support from the left as well.

But Turkey rejects the term genocide and disputes the numbers of Armenians killed. It argues Muslim Turks and Kurds were also killed during the fighting in 1915.

If the legislation is passed, Ankara warns France will face diplomatic and economic reprisals. Delegations of Turkish lawmakers and businessmen were in Paris this week lobbying their cause.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe (R) and members of the Turkish National Assembly are seen ahead of their meeting in Paris, December 20, 2011
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe (R) and members of the Turkish National Assembly are seen ahead of their meeting in Paris, December 20, 2011

A member of the Turkish delegations told French TV that if the bill is passed it will sink Turkish-French relations. He called it a betrayal of Turkey.

European Council on Foreign Relations analyst Dimitar Bechev says French interests in Turkey could be hurt.

"Lots of French businesses have done very well in Turkey," said Bechev. "France is one of the bigger economic partners. So it will hurt if there is a turnaround.  But I expect as things develop, there will be some diplomatic repercussions."

So why go ahead with the vote?  Some French media speculate that 2012 election-year politics and a desire to garner support from French Armenian voters are at play.  

"In the calculation of French politicians, Turkey-bashing is a winner," Bechev added. "It wins votes, it wins the Armenian community and it may win the right wing as well. And I think that is what is happening right now."

If passed, the legislation is certain to further erode French-Turkish ties, already strained over Sarkozy's opposition to Turkey's bid to join the European Union. The bloc as a whole is divided over Turkey's application, and Ankara's interest in joining is waning as its influence in the Middle East and elsewhere increases.

"Right now, we are going through a low point in the bilateral relationship and the challenge is how to improve it," Bechev said.

Turkey and Armenia signed a peace agreement two years ago that included setting up an expert commission to examine the 1915 events and restoring diplomatic ties, but neither country has ratified the accord.

You May Like

Ukraine: Russian Forces Tightening Grip on East

And new United Nations report documents human rights abuses committed by both sides in conflict More

Locust Swarms Fill Antananarivo Skies

FAO-led control efforts halted plague More

South Africa’s Plan to Move Rhinos May Not Stop Poaching

Experts say international coordination needed to follow the money trail and bring down rhino horn kingpins More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid