Turkey recalls envoy from France over 'genocide' bill

An Armenian woman mourns a dead boy during the deportations in 1915 Armenians say up to 1.5m people were killed by the Ottoman Turks in 1915-16

Related Stories

The Turkish ambassador to France has been recalled in protest at a bill making it illegal to deny the mass killing of Armenians was genocide.

The National Assembly in Paris voted by a show of hands to back the bill by a large majority, and it will go before the Senate next year.

Turkey rejects the term "genocide" to describe the killing of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe publicly opposed the bill.

Under the bill, those publicly denying genocide would face a year in jail and a fine of 45,000 euros (£29,000: $58,000).

Armenians say up to 1.5m people were killed by the Ottoman Turks in 1915-16.

Ankara says closer to 300,000 people died, and that Turks were also killed as Armenians rose up against the Ottoman Empire when Russian troops invaded eastern Anatolia, now eastern Turkey.

More than 20 countries have formally recognised the killings as genocide.

'Inspired by European law'

Turkish TV announced the recall of the country's envoy in response to the bill.

Start Quote

Valerie Boyer

My bill doesn't aim at any particular country”

End Quote Valerie Boyer French MP

Ambassador Tahsin Burcuoglu will leave France on Friday and further measures will be announced in Turkey by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a Turkish embassy spokesman confirmed for French news agency AFP.

Earlier, Turkey's main political parties issued a joint statement condemning the bill, saying it "denigrates Turkish history", and there have been protests outside the French embassy in the Turkish capital, Ankara.

The bill's author, Valerie Boyer from France's ruling conservative UMP party, said she was "shocked" at Turkey's intervention.

"My bill doesn't aim at any particular country," she said.

Turkey and the Armenians

  • Hundreds of thousands of ethnic Armenians died during mass deportations by Ottoman Turks in 1915-6
  • More than 20 countries say it was genocide
  • Turkey and some historians say it was part of widespread turmoil in World War I in which Muslims also died
  • Estimated 500,000 ethnic Armenians now in France
  • Turkey closed Armenia border in 1993 because of conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh
  • Turkey signed 2009 deal with Armenia to examine 1915 killings and open borders: ratified by neither side

"It is inspired by European law, which says that the people who deny the existence of the genocides must be sanctioned."

Jean-Christophe Lagarde, an MP from the New Centre party, said: "Laws voted in this chamber cannot be dictated by Ankara."

Maurice Delighazarian, 75, lost his grandparents in 1915.

"Our ancestors can finally rest in peace," he was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency in Paris.

Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian thanked the French parliament for supporting the bill.

"I would like to once again express my gratitude to France's top leadership, to the National Assembly, and to the French people," he told AFP in the Armenian capital Yerevan.

He added that France had "once again proved its commitment to universal human values".

'Counter-productive'

Mr Juppe criticised the proposed law, which follows France's formal recognition of the killings as genocide in 2001. No penalty was attached for denial at the time.

Mr Juppe told reporters it was a critical juncture in the Middle East and he emphasised the role Turkey had been playing in the Arab Spring, as well as the strong economic ties that existed between Turkey and France.

"It [the bill] is useless and counter-productive," he said.

"Passing laws in France won't change their minds in Turkey. We recognise the consequences. I would expect a robust Turkish response. The retaliation could have damaging and serious consequences."

His disapproval appears to be in direct conflict with the tacit support that has been given by President Nicolas Sarkozy to the bill, the BBC's Christian Fraser reports from Paris.

There are some half a million ethnic Armenians living in France and their vote is considered important in next year's presidential election, our correspondent notes.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Europe stories

RSS

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.