Sarkozy tells Turkey to 'revisit' Armenia killings
French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged Turkey on Thursday to "revisit" its history regarding the 1915 massacre of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, which France views as a genocide but Turkey does not.
"Turkey, which is a great country, would be honorable to revisit its history like the other great countries in the world have done: Germany, France," Sarkozy told journalists at a joint press conference with Armenian counterpart Serge Sarkisyan.
"The genocide of Armenians is a historic reality that was recognised by France. Collective denial is even worse than individual denial," he said.
"We are always stronger when we look our history in the face, and denial is not acceptable."
Sarkozy was speaking after visiting Armenia's Genocide National Museum to pay respects to Armenians killed in the massacre, an extremely sensitive issue that has kept Armenia and Turkey from establishing formal diplomatic relations.
Asked whether France should adopt a law prosecuting anyone who denies that the massacres were "genocide", Sarkozy replied that "if Turkey revisited its history, looked it in the face, with its shadows and highlights, this recognition of the genocide would be sufficient."
"But if Turkey will not do this, then without a doubt it would be necessary to go further," he said.
Sarkozy angered Turkey ahead of his election in 2007 by backing a law aimed at prosecuting those who refuse to recognise the event as a genocide.
The French lower house of parliament later rejected the measure, infuriating an Armenian diaspora of some 500,000 people.
Sarkozy was to dine with Sarkisyan later Thursday and continue his tour of Caucasus states Azerbaijan and Georgia on Friday.
© 2011 AFP