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Wednesday, 8 November, 2000, 17:04 GMT
French vote recognises 'Armenian genocide'
Armenian survivors
Armenian survivors commemorate 85th anniversary in Times Square
The upper house of the French parliament has approved a controversial bill recognising accusations that Ottoman Turkey carried out a "genocide" against Armenians in 1915.

The Senate vote, which went ahead despite strong opposition from the French Government, was passed by 164 votes to 40, with four abstentions.


We reject and condemn this decision, which constitutes an extremely unfortunate and mistaken step

Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Huseyin Dirioz
Turkey condemned the move, calling it a merciless distortion of historical facts.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry, however, welcomed the decision, describing it as a "triumph of morals and justice in politics."

'Massacres and deportations'

Armenians say 1.5 million people died in massacres and mass deportations in the last days of the Ottoman empire.

But Turkey says about 300,000 Armenians were killed in what it says was a revolt against the authorities, and that people died on both sides.

The French National Assembly recognised the genocide on 29 May, although the French Government did not endorse the move.

Two weeks ago the United States House of Representatives decided not to proceed with a similar vote, on the grounds that it could affect relations with Turkey and further inflame tension in the Middle East.

Turkey's Foreign Minister Ismail Cem warned the US of possible sanctions against the US in the event of the resolution being passed by Congress.

At the time, Armenia maintained a diplomatic silence on the matter, but the head of the small Armenian community in Turkey, Patriarch Mesrob II of Constantinople, appealed to US Congressmen not to interfere in a matter "for Turkish and Armenian historians."

He said that Armenians in Turkey still suffer from various legal handicaps.

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23 Sep 00 | Media reports
Turkey angry at US Armenian genocide move
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