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French Lawmakers Pass Genocide Law on Armenians
Hope in January the law is accepted in the Senate too …..
French Lawmakers Pass Genocide Law on Armenians
By ELAINE GANLEY Associated Press
PARIS December 22, 2011 (AP)
French lawmakers easily passed a measure Thursday to make it a crime in France to deny that the mass killings of Armenians in 1915 by Ottoman Turks amounted to genocide. State TV in Turkey, which had promised retaliation if the bill passed, said the country's ambassador to France would be withdrawn.
There was no official vote count in the ballot in France's lower house of parliament, with passage determined by a simple show of hands. The measure must still be passed in the Senate, where its fate is less clear.
The measure put France on a collision course with Turkey, a strategic ally and trading partner. Ankara reacted swiftly with state-run TV saying that Ambassador Tahsin Burcuoglu would be withdrawn. Turkey had threatened to remove its ambassador if French lawmakers did not desist and warned of "grave consequences" to political and economic ties.
Turkey vehemently rejects the term "genocide" for the World War I era-mass killings of Armenians, saying the issue should be left to historians. It contends that France is trampling freedom of expression and that President Nicolas Sarkozy is on a vote-getting mission ahead of April presidential elections.
An estimated half-million Armenians live in France and many have pressed to raise the legal statute regarding the massacres to the same level as the Holocaust by punishing denial of genocide.
Members of a pro-government union shout... View Full Caption
Members of a pro-government union shout slogans against France and French President Nicolas Sarkozy outside the French Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2011. Union members protest against France, a day before the lower house of the French Parliament debate a proposal that would punish anyone denying that the killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks more than 90 years ago were a genocide. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici) Close
France formally recognized the killings as genocide in 2001, but provided no penalty for anyone denying that. The bill sets a punishment of up to one year in prison and a fine of €45,000 ($59,000) for those who deny or "outrageously minimize" the killings by Ottoman Turks, putting such action on a par with denial of the Holocaust.
"Our ancestors can finally rest in peace," said 75-year-old Maurice Delighazarian who said his grandparents on both sides were among the victims of the 1915 massacre.
Vaskel Avedissian, 25, said he spent time with Turkish demonstrators outside the National Assembly earlier Thursday and "These people have nothing against Armenians." But, he added, "Turkey is the spokesman for state negationism today."
Lawmakers denounced what they called Turkey's propaganda effort in a bid to sway them.
"Laws voted in this chamber cannot be dictated by Ankara," said Jean-Christophe Lagarde, a deputy from the New Center party, as Turks demonstrated outside the National Assembly ahead of the vote.
The bill's author said she was "shocked" at the attempt to interfere with the parliament's work.
"My bill doesn't aim at any particular country," said Valerie Boyer, a deputy from the ruling conservative UMP party. "It is inspired by European law, which says that the people who deny the existence of the genocides must be sanctioned."
An initial bid to punish denial of the Armenian genocide failed earlier this year, killed by the Senate five years after it was passed by the lower house.
French authorities have stressed the importance of bilateral ties with Turkey and the key role it plays in sensitive strategic issues as a member of NATO, in Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
However, Sarkozy has long opposed the entry into the European Union of mostly Muslim Turkey, putting a constant strain on the two nations' ties.


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