ANKARA, Turkey, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- A move to criminalize denial of the mass killing of Armenians in 1915 threatens to do "irreparable damage" to Franco-Turkish relations, Turkish diplomats say.
The diplomats told Turkey's Today's Zaman newspaper that France's National Assembly is preparing to vote on legislation that would make it a crime to deny the slaying of 600,000 or more Armenians in Turkey during the fall of the Ottoman Empire.
"The French administration is well aware of the sensitivity of this issue [the Armenian genocide] for our country," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said. "We hope that no steps that could cause irreparable damage will be taken at a time when Turkey and France have entered a stable phase that could increase opportunities of cooperation at bilateral and international levels."
The debate over the issue was revived in October when French President Nicolas Sarkozy visited Armenia.
Sarkozy urged Turkey to recognize the killing of Armenians at the onset of World War I as genocide. Turkey contends the deaths occurred during relocation of Armenians and were not a deliberate government attempt to eradicate them.