PARIS – MPs in France have passed a bill making it illegal to deny that the killing of Armenians in World War I was genocide, in the teeth of Turkish objections. The vote, by show of hands, saw the bill backed by a large majority of the 50 or so MPs present in the National Assembly, according to the BBC. The bill is expected to go before the Senate early next year.
Turkey rejects the term “genocide” and has warned France of “serious repercussions” if the bill becomes law. French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe has publicly opposed the bill.
Under the bill, those publicly denying genocide would face a year in jail and a fine of EUR 45,000. 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.
Earlier, Turkey’s main political parties issued a joint statement condemning the bill, saying it “denigrates Turkish history”. There have been protests outside the French embassy in the Turkish capital, Ankara. Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian thanked the French parliament for supporting the bill. Turkey meanwhile announced plans to recall its ambassador from France amid the conflict, according to Russia Today.