The end of pretense
Armenians protest in Paris
French in Armenia 'genocide' row
The French parliament has adopted a bill making it a crime to deny that Armenians suffered "genocide" at the hands of the Turks, infuriating Turkey.
The bill, which provides for a year in jail and a heavy fine, still needs approval from the Senate and president.
Turkey called the decision a "serious blow" to relations with France. It has already threatened economic sanctions.
Armenia says Ottoman Turks killed 1.5 million people systematically in 1915 - a claim strongly denied by Turkey.
The European Commission has said that the bill, if passed into law, will "prohibit dialogue which is necessary for reconciliation" between Turkey and Armenia on the issue.
Turkey has been warning France for weeks not to pass the bill.
"Turkish-French relations, which have been meticulously developed over the centuries, took a severe blow today through the irresponsible initiatives of some short-sighted French politicians, based on unfounded allegations," the Turkish foreign ministry said.
The vote, in the lower house of the French parliament on Thursday morning, was sponsored by the opposition Socialist party.
The ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) did not back the law, but gave its deputies a free vote.
It passed by 106 votes to 19, despite the French government signalling its opposition.
Ethnic Armenians in Paris celebrated the result.
"The memory of the victims is finally totally respected," said Alexis Govciyan.
But the French foreign ministry described the bill as "unnecessary and untimely".
Under the bill, anyone denying genocide could be punished with a one-year prison term and 45,000-euro (£30,000) fine - the same punishment that is imposed for denying the Nazi Holocaust.
The vote came as controversial Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk won the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature.
He has faced prosecution in Turkey for talking about the murder of hundreds of thousands of Armenians during World War I and thousands of Kurds in subsequent years.
The charges have since been dropped.
posted by Steve @ 11:13:00 AM