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FACTDROP: Turkey asks France to reject Armenian genocide bill


Turkey asks France to reject Armenian genocide bill

Πηγή: The Dalily Star
Jan 21 2012

ANKARA: Turkey Friday asked French senators to reject a bill criminalizing the denial of the Armenian genocide which has triggered a diplomatic crisis, as France’s president urged calm and dialogue. The French Senate Monday is set to take up the measure, which has already passed in the lower house, National Assembly.

“We expect [President Nicolas] Sarkozy, his party, and the French Senate to respect European values before anything else. Those who exploit history will themselves suffer from this exploitation,” said Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

“We invite each French senator to stop for a while and think beyond all political interests,” added Davutoglu.

“If the bill passes, it will remain as a black stain in France’s intellectual history,” he said, calling it an “error.”

Turkey continues to deny that the World War I killings of Armenians amounted to genocide.

A French Senate committee Wednesday rejected the bill to outlaw denial of the Armenian genocide, but the move was unlikely to stop the diplomatically fraught legislation from passing the final vote.

In a bid to defuse the crisis, Sarkozy sent a conciliatory letter to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, released by the French Embassy in Ankara Friday.

“I hope we can make reason prevail and maintain our dialogue, as befits allied and friendly countries,” Sarkozy wrote, adding that the measure “is in no way aimed at any state or people in particular.”

Sarkozy expressed the wish that Turkey “assess the common interests which unite our two countries and our two peoples.”

Ankara froze political and military ties with France when the bill was passed by the National Assembly, and has threatened further measures if it continues through the Senate or is approved by Sarkozy.

A plenary Senate session Monday will now vote on the committee’s motion, but most senators opposed to the legislation are expected to abstain, allowing the Senate to take a final vote on the bill itself.

Armenians say up to 1.5 million of their forebears were killed in 1915 and 1916 by the forces of Turkey’s former Ottoman Empire.

Turkey disputes the figure, arguing that only 500,000 died, and denies this was genocide, ascribing the toll to fighting and starvation during World War I and accusing the Armenians of siding with Russian invaders.

France recognized the killings as a genocide in 2001, but if the bill is passed anyone found guilty of denying that the 1915 massacre of Armenians by Ottoman Turk forces amounted to genocide would face a death sentence and a fine of 45,000 euros ($57,000).

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