Voting on a controversial bill to punish anyone denying the Armenian genocide has been postponed in the French parliament. While the speaker said talks were delayed due to a lack of time, pro-Armenian protestors outside parliament were angered, accusing Turkey of mounting pressure on France.
The conservative government has said it will not support the bill after Turkish officials warned Paris of “irreparable damage” to bilateral relations if it passed the law. Earlier this month, Ankara recalled its ambassador to France and a leading deputy warned of a boycott of French goods. Under the bill put forward by the opposition socialists, anyone denying the Armenian genocide could be jailed for up to five years and face a hefty fine. Turkey denies claims that 1.5 million Armenians died in a genocide orchestrated by Ottoman forces during World War One. Turkish authorities claim they were victims of partisan fighting that claimed even more Turkish lives. The debate is a thorny issue in France which is home to around half a million Armenians. The inauguration of a memorial to commemorate the victims of the genocide in the city of Lyon earlier this year sparked protests by Turkish negationists who deny it ever happened. Turkey’s continued denial of the genocide remains one of the main obstacles to its entry into the European Union.