Jan 24 - The French Senate passes law making it criminal to deny mass killing of Armenians in WW1 was genocide. Michaela Cabrera reports.
The Senate of France passed a landmark law on Monday -- making it illegal to deny that the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks nearly a century ago was genocide. The move raises the prospect of a diplomatic rift between France and Turkey, a major NATO ally. Around 200 Franco-Turks protested outside the senate as the vote took place. The Turkish ambassador to France, Tahsin Burcuoglu, said the law will never be accepted in Turkey, and diplomatic ties will be severely affected. SOUNDBITE) (French) TURKISH AMBASSADOR TO FRANCE, TAHSIN BURCUOGLU, SAYING: "There will be a very big reaction, you will see. It will probably mean a total rupture, and when I say a total rupture, I include things like I can leave definitively." In Istanbul -- Turks are saying the law is against freedom of thought. (SOUNDBITE) (Turkish) ISTANBUL RESIDENT TAMER BALABAN, SAYING: "It is not a good thing that such issues are being voted in parliaments. I believe that parliamentarians shouldn't make judgements on history. They should leave the debate to historians. But this is a political move and I find it against freedom of thought." In Armenia-- the new law was celebrated. SOUNDBITE) (English) ARMENIAN FOREIGN MINISTER, EDWARD NALBANDIAN, SAYING: "This day will be written in gold not only in the history of friendship between the Armenian and French peoples, but also in the annals of the history of the protection of human rights worldwide." Armenia says up to 1.5 million Christian Armenians were killed during the first World War, in what is now eastern Turkey. For Armenians, the message of such a law should not be lost on Turkey. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ARMENIAN REVOLUTIONARY FEDERATION'S KIRO MANOYAN, SAYING: "The most important thing that is happening, by such laws and resolutions in foreign countries, is to help the people of Turkey to get to know their own history and eventually, hopefully recognise the Armenian genocide." The law was passed with 127 votes for, and 86 against. It will be sent to President Nicholas Sarkozy for approval. Michaela Cabrera, Reuters.