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Turkey condemns passage of Armenia genocide bill

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-01-24

Turkey "strongly condemned" on Monday the French Senate's "irresponsible and disrespectful" approval of a bill that criminalises any denial of the Armenian genocide, and vowed to implement retaliatory measures.

AFP - Turkey strongly on Monday condemned the French Senate's passage of a bill outlawing denial of the Armenian genocide, slamming it as irresponsible and disrespectful while vowing to take retaliatory steps.

"We strongly condemn this decision which is... an example of irresponsiblity," the foreign ministry said in a written statement, adding that the government would not hesitate to swiftly implement retaliatory measures.

The French senators on Monday approved the contentious bill that criminalises any denial of the Armenian genocide, despite vows from a furious Turkey that it would punish Paris with "permanent" sanctions.

When France's lower house passed the bill last month, Ankara froze political and military ties with Paris and promised further measures if the bill was passed by the Senate.

The bill must now be signed by President Nicolas Sarkozy -- whose right-wing UMP party put forward the measure -- for it to become law.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to publicise Ankara's possible retaliatory measures against Paris during an address to his fellow deputies in parliament on Tuesday.

"The decision made by the Senate is a great injustice and shows total lack of respect for Turkey," Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin told the CNN-Turk television in immediate reaction after the French Senate vote.

Turkey maintains the 1915 killings of Armenians during the Ottoman Empire did not amount to genocide.

"France opened a black page in its history," said Volkan Bozkir, the head of the Turkish parliament's foreign affairs committee, in a Twitter message.

The foreign ministry statement said bilateral relations between the two NATO allies were the victim of political concerns, an apparent reference to the upcoming presidential election in France.

"This is profoundly an unfortunate step," it said.

"Politicising the understanding of justice and history through other people's past and damaging freedom of expression in a tactless manner are first and foremost a loss for France."

France has already recognised the killings as a genocide, but the new bill would go further, by punishing anyone who denies this with a year in jail and a fine of 45,000 euros ($57,000).

Date created : 2012-01-24

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