Turkish Parliament Slams French Genocide Bill

ANKARA (Associated Press)–Turkey’s parliament on Tuesday condemned a French bill making it a crime to deny the Armenian Genocide, warning the law would permanently damage ties. The bill was approved by lawmakers in France’s lower house last week, but still needs approval by the French Senate and President Jacques Chirac to become law. Turkey has said the decision has badly damaged relations with France. The Turkish parliament condemned the bill in a statement, calling it an "unfriendly" move aimed at domestic politics and said it was "surprising to see France as a decision maker when it comes to historical incidents related to Turkey, while defending it to leave to the historians when it comes to its actions that led to the killings of more than 1 million innocent people in Algeria, Indo China, Madagascar and some African countries," where it ruled. Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul told parliament that the government would consider every measure including legal action to prevent the legislation of the bill. "From now on, it won’t be Turkey that loses but France," Gul warned against legislation of the bill. Chirac’s government is thought to be unlikely to forward the bill for passage by the Senate. "It is obvious that legislation of this bill will lead to irreparable wounds in political, economic and military ties between Turkey and France," the parliament said in a statement. The parliament reiterated Turkey’s call to Armenia to respond to a Turkish proposal to jointly research the incidents, warning that "Armenia’s use of lobby efforts in France and in other countries and its hostile policies against the rights and pride of the Turkish nation will cost dearly to them." Armenia’s Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian on Sunday said he would strive to normalize relations with Turkey only if Turkey recognizes the Armenian Genocide. "That these events… have not been condemned and not recognized once so far, is in reality a continuation of the genocide," Oskanian was quoted as saying in an interview with Armenian public television. "However, as foreign minister I have a duty to look to the future and to seek to establish normal relations with Turkey," he added. Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993, in support for its ally Azerbaijan, which was then at war with Armenia. Oskanian in Sunday’s commen’s reiterated his country’s satisfaction with the French National Assembly’s vote last Thursday approving a bill that would make it a crime to deny that the Armenian as well as a similar move by the Swiss parliament in 2003. Oskanian said the Turkish government’s offer to set up a joint commission of historians to examine the massacres was "dishonest" so long as Turkey kept its border with Armenia closed and explicitly outlawed the use of the word genocide in the sensitive Armenian issue. "Our President has told (Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip) Erdogan that Armenia is ready to talk, as soon as the borders are open and as soon as there are bilateral relations. When this is the case, an intergovernmental commission can discuss this question," he told the newspaper.

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