France’s lower house of parliament has passed a bill making it a crime to deny the Armenian genocide, a step that has been strongly denounced by the Turkish government.
Introduced by France’s socialist opposition, the draft law would make it a crime to deny that the 1915-1917 massacres of an estimated 1.2 million Christian Armenians by Ottoman Turks were an act of genocide.
The bill, passed by the lower house on October 12, still needs to be approved by the upper house of parliament before it becomes law.
Turkey’s foreign ministry said relations between the two countries had been dealt a severe blow by the proposed law.
The French government had not backed the motion, although it gave its supporters a free vote on the issue, and sought to distance itself from the vote by stressing the importance of ties with Turkey. In a statement issued by the French foreign ministry, it said the bill was part of a “long legislative process” and described the legislation as “unnecessary and untimely.”
The EU, currently negotiating with Ankara on Turkey’s entry, to the body, also criticised the parliamentarians’ decision.
Turkey denies that over one million Christian Armenians were killed as part of genocide during the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire during the first world war, arguing that the Armenian deaths were a part of general partisan fighting in which both sides suffered.