France guilty of 'Middle Ages' mindset over Armenia: Turkey
ISTANBUL - Agence France-Presse
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. AA PhotoTurkey's Foreign Minister has blasted France for promulgating a "Middle Ages" mentality ahead of a French Parliament debate on a proposal to criminalize the denial of the "genocide" of Armenians, referring to events that took place in 1915.
"If this proposal is legislated, France will pioneer the return of a Middle Ages mindset to Europe," Ahmet Davutoğlu told the Turkish parliament late Wednesday, Anatolia news agency reported.
France's move would "create a new dogma about understanding history, to forbid alternative thoughts. This is the mentality of the Middle Ages. The adoption of this mindset in France is the greatest danger for Europe," Davutoğlu said.
Armenians say up to 1.5 million of their people were killed during World War I by forces belonging to Turkey's erstwhile Ottoman Empire. Turkey refuses to call the 1915-16 killings a genocide and says 300,000 to 500,000 Armenians, and at least as many Turks, died when Armenians rose up and sided with invading Russian forces.
The French National Assembly will on Thursday next week debate a proposed law that would punish the denial of "genocide" with penalties of a year in jail and a fine of 45,000 euros ($58,000).
Ahead of the debate, Turkey's Parliament will send a delegation, led by its foreign affairs committee chief Volkan Bozkır, to Paris from Monday to Wednesday, to explain the damage the law would cause for bilateral ties, said a Turkish parliamentary source.
Davutoğlu told Turkish lawmakers it was "out of the question to leave unanswered an attempt by any country leader, government or parliament to dishonour our country and nation."
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has called on Turkey to recognize the killings as 'genocide' and in the past promised his country's large Armenian community to support a law criminalizing the denial of a 'genocide'.