France’s controversial genocide bill will have be approved by parliament’s upper house, before it becomes official. However, its passing through the lower house has caused a souring of relations between Paris and Ankara.
Turkish protesters on the streets of the French capital are angry that offenders could face a one year jail term and a 45,000 euro fine if the law is adopted.
The Turkish ambassador to France Tahsin Burcuoglu has been recalled.
Turkey’s response also speculated on the motives of French President Nicolas Sarkozy who is facing an election in four months.
Speaking at a news conference whilst hosting Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich in Ankara, Turkish President Recep Tayipp Erdogan said: “Efforts to increase votes for the personal gain of a presidential election, using fear of Turkey and Islamophobia, should raise concern – not only in France, but in Europe and considering the universal values of Europe.”
France does have more ethnic Armenian residents than Turks, and the law is being interpreted by Ankara as a way of currying Armenian favour.
However, Armenian nationalist Kiro Manoyan, who is leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, is happy the massacre is being recognised: “When the Turkish side argues that this is against freedom of speech, it does not recognise the fact that this an EU framework decision regarding all genocides, and all EU countries should adopt such laws.”
The number of Armenians killed by the Ottoman Turks in 1915-16 ranges from between 600,000 to 1.5 million.
Turkey has always disputed using the term ‘genocide’ for the Armenian deaths.