The Turkish ambassador to France will leave Paris Friday in protest at the adoption by French parliamentarians of a bill that criminalizes people who deny that Armenians suffered a genocide at the hands of Ottoman Turks, an embassy spokesman said.
Spokesman Engin Solakoglu told dpa on Thursday, "My ambassador will leave for Turkey tomorrow for an indefinite period.”
Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said later Thursday that Turkey would be canceling all economic, political and military meetings with France over the bill, and that it would be canceling permission for French military planes to land in Turkey, and for French warships to dock in Turkey.
Erdogan said the genocide bill opens wounds that will be difficult to heal, and described it as, “politics based on racism, discrimination, xenophobia.”
The Turkish PM said that those "who want to see genocide should turn around and look at their own dirty and bloody history," Erdogan railed. "Turkey will stand against this intentional, malicious, unjust and illegal attempt through all kids of diplomatic means."
Armenia officially thanked France for approving the bill on Thursday.
France's National Assembly approved the bill, which punishes denial of genocides by a year's imprisonment and a fine of $ 58,000 dollars, on Thursday. The bill was adopted by a large majority.
To become law it must also be approved by the Senate.
Turkey, which rejects the categorization of the mass killings of Armenians between 1915 and 1917 as genocide, had threatened "grave consequences" if the vote passed.
Thousands of French people of Turkish origin demonstrated outside the assembly to denounce the bill, which they claimed was an attempt by the government to woo voters of Armenian origin ahead of next year's presidential and parliamentary elections.
"It's not because a powerful lobby says it (genocide) that I will say it," Halil Karayel, who travelled from the north-eastern city of Strasbourg to take part in the demonstration, told dpa.
The parliamentary debate was also broadcast live in Turkey. Armenians say up to 1.5 million Armenian citizens of the Ottoman Empire were either killed or died of neglect during the war. Around a dozen countries have recognized their deaths as genocide.
Ankara says between 300,000 and 500,000 Armenians died, and argues that it was largely the result of unrest during the war following the invasion by Russian forces of eastern Turkey.
The standoff is the latest to rock Franco-Turkish relations, which have already soured over Sarkozy's resolute opposition to Turkey joining the European Union.
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