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Senior US diplomat decries French genocide denial bill as senseless

[JURIST] US Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried [official profile] Friday condemned the passage of a bill [text, in French; JURIST news archive] last week by the French lower house of parliament making it a crime to deny that killings of Armenians in 1915 [ANI backgrounder] in the then-Ottoman Empire (now Turkey) was genocide. Fried said the bill, which still needs approval by the French Senate and President Jacques Chirac to become law, hampers EU relations with Turkey and “doesn’t seem to make any sense. Every nation . . . has things in its past of which it is not proud.” AP has more.

In the wake of the legislation, relations between France and Turkey have become strained, notwithstanding an apology from Chirac [JURIST report] to the Turkish prime minister, and have sparked a Turkish boycott of French goods and television programs [JURIST report] and talk of retaliatory litigation [JURIST report] in the European Court of Human Rights. Turkish lawmakers have meanwhile threatened to pass a matching bill [JURIST report] labeling as genocide colonial killings of Algerians by the French and making it illegal to deny French culpability. Turkey, which is currently trying to join the European Union, denies [JURIST comment] that the killing of 1.5 million Armenians during World War I was in fact genocide.

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