News / Europe

French Senate Passes Armenian Genocide Bill; Turkey Outraged

Turkish citizens in France, one of them holding a booklet reading "Electoral card", demonstrate in front of the Senate to protest against a law that would make it a crime to deny "genocide" of Armenians, in Paris, Monday, Jan. 23, 2012.
Turkish citizens in France, one of them holding a booklet reading "Electoral card", demonstrate in front of the Senate to protest against a law that would make it a crime to deny "genocide" of Armenians, in Paris, Monday, Jan. 23, 2012.

The French Senate has passed a bill making it a crime to deny that the mass killings of Armenians by Turks nearly 100 years ago were genocide.

France's lower house of parliament passed the bill last month, and President Nicholas Sarkozy is likely to sign it into law.

It says anyone who says killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks is not genocide faces a $60,000 fine and up to one year in jail.

Turkey calls the French Senate decision a great injustice and says it shows a lack of respect for Turkey. Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian says the  day will be written in gold in the history of the protection of human rights.

Turkey had warned of what it said would be permanent sanctions if the Senate passed the bill.

Turkey recalled its ambassador to France when the lower house passed it. Turkey also banned the French navy from using its territorial waters and restricted French military jets using its airspace.

The French foreign ministry called on Turkey not to overreact. It says France considers Turkey a "very important ally."

Armenia says troops of Turkey's Ottoman empire killed 1.5 million Armenians during World War I, constituting a genocide. Turkey says the Armenians were killed along with many others because of civil war. It also says the number of Armenian deaths has been exaggerated.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused France of committing genocide in Algeria more than 60 years ago. He said French colonialists massacred 15 percent of Algeria's population starting in 1945. He also accused Mr. Sarkozy of pandering to the hundreds of thousands of French citizens of Armenian descent heading into his re-election bid this year.

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