Angelique Chrisafis

December 21, 2011

Diplomatic relations between France and Turkey were on a knife-edge after Ankara warned of reprisals if the French parliament approves a law making it illegal to deny that the 1915 mass killing of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey was genocide.

The draft law put forward by a member of Nicolas Sarkozy’s right-wing party would make denying any genocide a criminal offence, punishable by a one-year jail sentence and a fine of €45,000 (£37,400). All French parties back the bill, which will be debated on parliament on Thursday and is likely to be approved.

The project has sparked a slanging match with Turkey threatening to withdraw its ambassador from Paris and expel the French ambassador to Ankara. The Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, warned President Sarkozy of serious political, economic and cultural consequences. He said France should look at its own “dirty and bloody history” in Algeria and Rwanda.

Turkish business leaders and parliamentarians visited Paris to pile on the pressure over trade, particularly energy contracts and Turkish Airlines’ purchase of the Airbus. France is Turkey’s fifth biggest export market and the sixth biggest source of its imports.

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