French lawmakers pass Armenian genocide law


Turks demonstrate next to the French National Assembly, at dawn on December 22, 2011 in Paris, France.


Martin Bureau

French lawmakers passed a measure on Thursday to make it a crime to deny that the mass killing of Armenians in 1915 by Ottoman Turks was a genocide. As a result, Turkish state television has stated that the country's ambassador to France will be withdrawn, the Associated Press reported.

The measure must still be passed in the Senate, and according to the AP, its fate there is less clear.

Turkey is a strategic ally and trading partner to France, and Ankara reacted swiftly to the measure, saying that Ambassador Tahsin Burcuoglu would be withdrawn. Turkey had warned of "grave consequences" prior to the vote Voice of America reported.

Turkey has vehemently rejected the term "genocide" for the World War I era killings. It believes that the bill, which was proposed by 40 deputies from French President Nicholas Sarkozy's party, is an overt attempt at winning the votes of the 500,000 ethnic Armenians in France during next year's election, RT reported.  

France is home to the largest ethnic Armenian community in Europe.  

More from GlobalPost: Turkey angry about France's genocide bill

According to Reuters, several thousand Franco-Turks demonstrated in central Paris on Thursday prior to the vote.

"I don't understand why France wants to censor my freedom of expression," Yildiz Hamza, president of the Montargis association that represents 700 Turkish families in France told Reuters outside the National Assembly. "Every five years there is this sort of debate because elections are approaching."

France officially recognized the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 2001. The proposed law carries a penalty of up to one year in jail and a fine of 45,000 euro ($58,870).