Turkish PM urges Sarkozy to block genocide bill

16th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan appealed Friday to French President Nicolas Sarkozy to block an Armenian genocide bill and warned of "serious consequences" if it passes.

The legislation before the French parliament would criminalise the denial of the killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire as genocide, a move long resisted by Ankara.

"This bill directly targets the Turkish Republic, the Turkish nation and the Turkish community living in France, and it is hostile," Erdogan said in a letter sent to Sarkozy.

Erdogan warns of "irreperable" damage the bill, if passed, would do to Franco-Turkish relations, in the letter quoted by the Anatolia news agency.

If the bill passes, there will be "serious consequences regarding political, economic and cultural... ties between Turkey and France," Erdogan warned.

The issue is "sensitive" and "the demands of third parties should not hold captive the ties" between the two countries, Erdogan said in a reference to Armenia, which uses diplomatic channels to pressure Turkey about genocide.

Armenia says up to 1.5 million of its people were killed during World War I by forces belonging to Turkey's former Ottoman Empire.

Turkey refuses the term genocide and says 300,000 to 500,000 Armenians, and at least as many Turks, died in combat or of starvation when Armenians rose up and sided with invading Russian forces.

© 2011 AFP

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