[JURIST] Turkey [JURIST news archive] asked the European Union [official website] Monday to express opposition to a proposed French law which would imposes fines and jail terms on anyone who denies that there was an Armenian genocide [ANI backgrounder]. France [JURIST news archive] currently has approximately 400,000 citizens of Armenian origin who claim that 1.5 million of their ancestors were killed when Turkey attempted to remove them from its borders in 1915-23. Turkey admits that many Armenians died, but contends that the numbers are exaggerated and denies that the deaths amounted to genocide. Turkish Justice Minister Cemil Cicek called on the EU to allow denials of the genocide as expressions of free speech and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan [BBC profile] has requested French companies doing business in Turkey to protest the proposed French law.
Under the proposed legislation, those who deny the Armenian genocide would face fines approaching $57,000 and jail terms of up to one year. French legislators postponed a debate on the bill in May when Turkey threatened trade sanctions [JURIST report] against France. At the same time, Turkish lawmakers delayed discussions on a similar bill regarding denials of the French treatment of Algerians under colonial rule [JURIST report] as genocide. The Turkish parliament [official website] has now scheduled a debate [JURIST report] on that bill for next week. AP has more.