Turkey to press France on Armenia 'genocide' bill

14th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

Turkey will next week send a team to Paris ahead of a French parliamentary debate on a proposal to criminalise the denial of the "genocide" of Armenians, officials said Wednesday.

Armenians say up to 1.5 million of their people were killed during World War I by forces belonging to Turkey's erstwhile Ottoman Empire.

Turkey refuses to call the 1915-16 killings a genocide and says 300,000 to 500,000 Armenians, and at least as many Turks, died when Armenians rose up and sided with invading Russian forces.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has called on Turkey to recognise the killings as genocide and in the past promised his country's large Armenian community to support a law criminalising the denial of a genocide.

The French National Assembly will on Thursday next week debate a proposed law that would punish the denial of genocide with penalties of a year in jail and a fine of 45,000 euros ($58,000).

Ahead of the debate, Turkey's parliament will send a delegation, led by its foreign affairs committee chief Volkan Bozkir, to Paris from Monday to Wednesday, said a Turkish parliamentary source.

They would explain to their French counterparts "the damage that this provision would cause for Franco-Turkish relations," the source said, reiterating previous such warnings from Ankara to Paris.

© 2011 AFP

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