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Written by Admin    Thursday, 22 December 2011 18:31    PDF Print E-mail
France passes genocide bill, angry Turkey cuts ties, continuing the denial
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The French National Assembly has formally recognised as genocide the slaughter of more than a million and half Armenians living in the Ottoman empire between 1915 and 1917.

Russia, Canada, and Turkey's regional rival Greece, have also deemed the slaughter a genocide, but France has now become the first major western European nation to do so. Overall more than 20 countries have formally recognised genocide over the Armenian nation.

The Turkish ambassador to France will leave Paris Friday in protest at the adoption by French parliamentarians of a bill that criminalizes people who deny that Armenians suffered a genocide at the hands of Ottoman Turks, an embassy spokesman Engin Solakoglu said.

Spokesman told dpa on Thursday, "My ambassador will leave for Turkey tomorrow for an indefinite period.”

Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said later Thursday that Turkey would be canceling all economic, political and military meetings with France over the bill, and that it would be canceling permission for French military planes to land in Turkey, and for French warships to dock in Turkey.

Erdogan said the genocide bill opens wounds that will be difficult to heal, and described it as, “politics based on racism, discrimination, xenophobia.”

He said that those "who want to see genocide should turn around and look at their own dirty and bloody history," Erdogan railed. "Turkey will stand against this intentional, malicious, unjust and illegal attempt through all kids of diplomatic means."

Armenia officially thanked France for approving the bill on Thursday. France's National Assembly approved the bill, which punishes denial of genocides by a year's imprisonment and a fine of 45,000 euros (£29,000: $58,000), on Thursday.

The bill was adopted by a large majority.

To become law it must also be approved by the Senate.

With a large Armenian community in France, the decision arose via a number of individual parliamentarians some of them with substantial Armenian presences in their constituencies.

Turkey, which rejects the categorization of the mass muders of Armenian population between 1915 and 1917 as genocide, had threatened "grave consequences" if the vote passed.

Thousands Turkish immigrants demonstrated outside the assembly to denounce the bill, which they claimed was an attempt by the government to woo voters of Armenian origin ahead of next year's presidential and parliamentary elections. "It's not because a powerful lobby says it (genocide) that I will say it," Halil Karayel, who travelled from the north-eastern city of Strasbourg to take part in the demonstration.

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.

"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 AP 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".

Ankara says between 300,000 and 500,000 Armenians died, denying the actual figure of actual number is 1,500,000 victims, and argues that it was largely the result of unrest during the war following the invasion by Russian forces of eastern Turkey.

The standoff is the latest to rock Franco-Turkish relations, which have already soured over Sarkozy's resolute opposition to Turkey joining the European Union.

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Last Updated ( Thursday, 22 December 2011 18:44 )


Hymns and Poems Through Which the Armenians Have Cried Out Against their Persecution

December 4, 1915

IN this time of bitter grief among the Armenian people, readers of THE SURVEY may like to look into their thoughts and aspirations as revealed in their poetry. For among the people of many nationalities that have been flung into the American melting pot, the Armenians have one of the most interesting and heroic histories.


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