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Turkish ambassador returns to France

Turkish ambassador returns to France

Turkey's ambassador to France has returned to his post to try to stop the approval of a law that would make it a crime to deny that the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks constitute genocide, the foreign ministry said Sunday.
Ambassador Tahsin Burcuoglu flew to Paris on Saturday after finishing his consultations with senior Turkish officials, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Selcuk Unal said. Burcuoglu had left Paris on Dec. 23, a day after the French bill was passed in the lower house.
"He was not pulled back for good," Unal said. "He finished his consultations and returned to his post to continue his work to block the bill."
The French parliament has not yet made it a crime to deny that the 1915 killings amount to genocide, as the Senate still has to take up the matter.
Turkey vehemently denies the genocide label and insists the killings occurred during civil unrest as the Ottoman Empire collapsed, with losses on both sides. But the bill is seen as a matter of principle for some French politicians, and a matter of long-overdue justice for the half-million people in France of Armenian descent, many of whom had relatives among the 1.5 million Armenians killed.
Turkey says the death toll is highly inflated and argues France is trampling freedom of expression and that French President Nicolas Sarkozy is on a vote-getting mission before April presidential elections.
France formally recognized the 1915 killings as genocide in 2001, but provided no penalty for anyone rejecting that. The bill passed last month sets a punishment of up to one year in prison and a fine of (EURO)45,000 ($59,000) for those who deny or "outrageously minimize" the killings, putting such action on par with denial of the Holocaust.
The bill has seriously strained ties between the two NATO members. Turkey halted bilateral political and economic contacts and suspended military cooperation with France.


Updated : 2021-05-11 10:01 GMT+08:00