Feb 29 2012

PARIS, France (BNO NEWS) -- France's Constitutional Council ruled on
Tuesday that a government-backed law that makes it a crime to deny
the Armenian genocide at the hands of Ottoman Turks during World War
I is unconstitutional, a move that looks set to ward off a deepening
crisis in Turkish-French ties.

The council's decision was posted on its official website after
a month-long examination of the much discussed law, which French
President Nicolas Sarkozy was due to ratify by the end of February.

According to the statement, the law was not in line with the
constitution's articles that highlight freedom of expression and
thought, the Hurriyet Daily News reported.

Ankara expressed its satisfaction with the law and said this would
remove hurdles standing in the way of the improvement of relations
between the two countries. "This is a very positive decision. I thank
the members of the council for the respectful decision. It will set
a precedent as well," Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davuto─~_lu told
reporters, as quoted by the newspaper.

In late December, France's National Assembly voted overwhelmingly in
favor of the bill, prompting an angry response from Turkey which does
not agree with the term genocide. On January 23, the French Senate
adopted the controversial bill.

The law sets a prison sentence of up to one year and a fine of 45,000
euros ($58,000) for those who deny or 'outrageously minimize' the
'genocide' of Armenians by the Ottoman government during World War I.

It also criminalizes other genocides recognized by France.

It is estimated that between 600,000 and 1.5 million people of the
Armenian population were killed by the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and
1923, but Turkey has refused to use the word 'genocide' to describe
the events. Numerous countries have officially recognized the Armenian
Genocide, including France.