France -Turkey - Armenia

Turkey prepares retaliation against France over Armenian genocide law

Reuters/Pascal Rossignol

Turkey has promised retaliatory measures against France after the Upper House passed a bill by 127 votes to 86 making the denial of the Armenian genocide a crime punishable by up to a year in jail. 

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Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has already said the law would trigger permanent sanctions arguing that it goes against European values and would not help Turkish-Armenian relations.

Some historians claim up to a million and a quarter Armenians were massacred after 1915 as they were forced out of Turkey towards Syria by a government that feared they sympathised with Russia, at that time at war with Turkey.

Trade between France and Turkey was worth 12 billion euros in 2010 with several hundred businesses operating there.

The Turkish press on Thursday was unanimous in its criticism of the bill accusing France of breaching the right of freedom of expression.

“Shame on you, France,” wrote the daily Vatan. “In voting the bill on the genocide denial, France has turned its back on its own past."

And ministers were equally quick to condemn the measure and attack French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

"With this bill, Mr Sarkozy, will make history as the man who massacred history," the Anatolia news agency quoted Labour Minister Faruk Celik as saying. "With this bill either France is denying its history or we can say France is showing its true face.”

Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin telling CNN-Turk television that it was "a great injustice and shows a total lack of respect for Turkey".

Ankara froze political and military ties with France when the lower house backed the bill last month. It must now be signed into law by the president, whose right-wing UMP party put forward the measure.

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