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A Turkish delegation has attempted to get the French government to drop a parliamentary bill that has soured relations with Ankara.

The new law would make it illegal to deny that the 1915 mass killing of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey was genocide, something Ankara rejects.

“France recognised the Armenian genocide in 2001, but in the legal text voted in 2001 the negationists were not penalised,” said the ruling party MP behind the bill, Valérie Boyer.

The Turkish President has also called on Paris to scrap the draft law. But the French government argues it cannot stop a private member’s bill, even if it wanted to.

Osman Korutürk, a former Turkish ambassador to France, said: “The law seeks only to damage Franco-Turkish relations, which are very important, and as you can see the whole delegation speaks French. There are francophones and francophiles and these people consider themselves betrayed.”

Parliament will start debate on the bill on Thursday.

Some Turkish politicians claim the draft law is an attempt by the French ruling party to win Armenian votes in elections next year. It is estimated there are about 500,000 French voters of Armenian descent in France.

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