French senators have passed a bill making it illegal to deny that the 1915 mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks was genocide.
The bill was debated on Monday; nearly a month after the French national assembly voted in favour of the draft law and prompted an angry response from Turkey that saw political and military ties with France frozen.
Turkey has since promised further measures after condemning the Senate's approval. AFP reports that Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin told CNN-Turk television that the decision is a 'great injustice'.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced that he cancelled a trip to Brussels scheduled for Monday to brief EU foreign ministers on his visit to Tehran, saying that: "there will be more sanctions and this time, the sanctions will be permanent, until the French change their position."
Ankara strongly opposes the bill, claiming it is against freedom of expression, something that Turkey holds as one of its highest values and that it would not help Turkish-Armenian relations.
"It is time for French intellectuals, for French senators to defend our common values, freedom of expression. These are European, values." said Davutoglu.
Erdogan said on Monday that the bill was proposed by Sarkozy’s party in order to get more votes on the presitential elections in May and that if it passes, he will never visit France again.
Turkey’s state-run broadcaster (TRT) announced today that, it plans to suspend its 15.5 percent partnership in Lyon-based news channel Euronews, if France approves the bill. TRT is the third biggest of 10 stakeholders in Euronews.
Millions of Armenians had fled to escape the Ottoman Turks and scattered all over Europe between 1914-1916. The number of French citizens that are of Armenian descent is estimated between 400000 to half a million.
The draft law calls for a year imprisonment of anyone who denies the Genocide and a fine of 45,000 Euros.
In the meantime 15,000 Turks from France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg rallied on the streets of Paris on Saturday to protest against the law.
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