Turkey has recalled its ambassador from Paris in protest at France’s first steps towards criminalising the denial of genocide.
Under French law, the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915 is genocide, something rejected by Turkey and French-Turks protesting outside the National Assembly in the French capital.
“I don’t know what they have against us,” said demonstrator Ahmed Celik. “This Armenian issue is nearly a century old…It is just creating tensions.”
France’s lower house of parliament backed a bill making it illegal to deny Armenians were the victims of genocide. If it goes on to be approved by the upper house, offenders could face a one year jail term and a 45,000 euro fine.
Krikor Izikian, a representative of France’s Armenian community, expressed his satisfaction:
“Our grandmothers were not liars. Our grandfathers were not liars. They suffered this genocide. Some survived. The others died,” he said.
Turkey accuses the French government of trying to win votes in next year’s elections from France’s half a million strong ethnic Armenian community.