French Parliament to Vote on Armenian Genocide Bill

Posted December 22nd, 2011 at 1:50 am (UTC-5)
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The French parliament is expected to approve a controversial bill Thursday making it a crime to publicly deny the killing of Armenians by troops of Turkey's former Ottoman Empire nearly a century ago.

In response, Turkey says it may recall its ambassador to France and ask the French ambassador to leave Turkey. Turkish officials say the government may also exclude French companies from public contracts.

Turkey rejects the use of genocide to describe the deaths of up to 500,000 Armenians during the first World War. Armenia says up to 1.5 million of its citizens were killed.

Turkish officials say the bill represents French President Nicolas Sarkaozy's attempt at gaining support from France's 400,000 Armenians in his bid for reelection 2012.

Turkey's ruling and opposition parties have issued a joint declaration, denouncing the French legislation as a ” grave, unacceptable and historic mistake.”

On Wednesday, several dozen people opposing the proposed measure demonstrated outside the French embassy in Turkey's capital, Ankara.

Under the bill, anyone who publicly denies the 1915 genocide faces up in a year in jail and a $58,000 fine.