A Turkish delegation has met with French officials in a last-minute attempt to prevent the passing of a bill by the French parliament that would criminalize the denial of the Armenian genocide, Press TV reports.
The Turkish delegation including lawmakers and businessmen held talks with French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe and President Nicolas Sarkozy’s foreign policy advisor Jean-David Levitte on the controversial bill.
They argued that the bill was an attempt to win support among voters of Armenian origin during the next French presidential election due in April next year.
The French parliament is expected to vote on whether to punish people who deny the mass killing of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire during the World War I. If the bill becomes a law, deniers could face up to a year in prison and a fine of EUR 45,000.
Turkey says there has been no genocide, noting that the 500,000 of people who died between 1915 and 1917 were the casualties of World War I.
Armenians, however, insists the Ottomans deliberately perpetrated genocide and killed 3 times more than the figure.
France’s ruling party which is behind the bill has not changed its position since 2006 when a similar law without punishments came into effect.
“The question of the genocide is so strong, the proofs of the genocide are also so strong,” said Patrick Devedjian, a lawmaker of the governing UMP party in France.
Ankara has warned France against passing the bill, saying the country would retaliate by beginning to recount the colonial history of France to the world.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has strongly criticized France over the bill.
Erdogan, in a news conference last week, said that “those who want to see genocide should turn round and look at their own dirty, bloody history.”
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