PARIS - French lawmakers on Thursday approved a measure that penaría denying the Armenian holocaust in 1915 by the Ottoman Turks, which equated to genocide. Turkish Prime Minister said he has summoned its ambassador to France and suspended bilateral official contacts.
Not officially announced the outcome of the vote in the lower house of the French National Assembly, where the measure passed by show of hands. The proposal now goes to the Senate where its fate is less certain.
The move brought to France on a collision course with Turkey, a strategic ally and trading partner. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the ambassador called Tahsin Burcuoglu.
"We are calling our ambassador in Paris to Ankara for consultations," said Erdogan.
"From this moment, we canceled the bilateral political activities, economic and military," he said. "We suspend all kinds of political consultations with France (and) the bilateral military cooperation, joint exercises are canceled from this moment."
Turkey categorically rejects the term "genocide" in reference to the killing of Armenians during the First World War, believing that the issue is a matter for historians. They claim that France violated freedom of expression and that President Nicolas Sarkozy tries to win votes before the April presidential elections.
Half a million Armenians live in France and many of them pressed the authorities to equate these killings to the Holocaust, suffering the denial of genocide.
France officially recognized the Armenian genocide in 2001, but not punish her denial. The bill provides up to one year in jail and a fine of 45,000 euros (59,000 dollars) for those who deny or "grossly minimize" the murders committed by the Ottoman Turks in the last months of rule, equating the Jewish Holocaust during World War II World Cup.