Press TV
Jan 24 2012

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has strongly criticized
France over its senators' move to pass a bill that criminalizes the
denial of the alleged "Armenian genocide" about a century ago.

Erdogan stated the move taken by French lawmakers is reminiscent of
the mentality of the Middle Ages and against the European values. He
said Turkey is still waiting patiently to see how the situation will
develop in France and will declare its new measures against France
if in the case it becomes necessary.

The prime minister said Turkey is still hopeful that the French
parliament's legislation would be reversed through legal channels.

The bill, which has been also passed by the Lower House of the French
parliament, would punish those who deny the alleged "Armenian genocide"
by a 45,000-euro fine and a year in prison. It now needs to be signed
by President Nicolas Sarkozy to become a law.

The French senators' move to approve the legislation came despite
Turkey's threats to impose new sanctions on France.

Turkey halted diplomatic consultations and military dealings with
France, just after the Lower House in the French parliament had passed
the bill last month and had warned that it will not let France go
unpunished if the bill became a law.

The move by the French lawmakers to pass the bill is expected to
open up a critical chapter in relations between France and Turkey,
as it seems that Ankara has flexed its muscles to retaliate by taking
all necessary measures.

Turkish people in Paris had held a demonstration to call on France
to avoid passing the bill which has angered them by touching on one
of the most sensitive issues in their country's history.

A rival demonstration was also held in the city by Armenians who hailed
the French parliament's decision to vote on the bill. Turkish experts
say the legislation shows France's disrespect for freedom of speech.

Turkey's Foreign Ministry, in a statement, has condemned passing the
bill in the French parliament as an irresponsible move and vowed that
it would react to it in all platforms.

The statement said the bill will damage the freedom of speech and
scholarly research in France.

Relations between France and Turkey have become sour from time to time
over the past years, as France, which is one of the main countries of
the European Union has traditionally played a major role in preventing
Turkey from joining the union, but it seems that the bill can decrease
the level of relations between the two countries to unprecedented lows.