France to vote on genocide bill by end of January
General view of the French Senate in Paris. (Photo: Reuters)
France is set to vote by the end of January on a bill that would make it illegal to deny the 1915 mass killing of Armenians by Ottomon Turks amounted to genocide, parliamentary and government sources said on Wednesday.
Lawmakers in France's National Assembly -- the lower house of parliament -- voted overwhelmingly in favor of a draft law outlawing genocide denial in December, leading Ankara to cancel all economic, political and military meetings with Paris and recalling its ambassador for consultations.
The Senate will hold hearings on the bill on Jan. 5 and 11 to which legal experts, officials from Turkish and Armenian groups and the Turkish and Armenian ambassadors to Paris would be invited, said Socialist senators Philippe Kaltenbach and Luc Carvounas.
The bill should then be presented to the Senate for a final vote in the last week of January. Its backers want to see the process completed before parliament is suspended at the end of February ahead of presidential elections in April and May.
A spokeswoman at the Turkish embassy said a date had not been set for the ambassador's return.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has described the bill as "politics based on racism, discrimination and xenophobia" and turned his anger on French President Nicolas Sarkozy, accusing France of colonial massacres in Algeria.
France's government has stressed that the bill, which mandates a maximum 45,000-euro fine and a year in jail for offenders, was not its own initiative but that of a lawmaker in Sarkozy's conservative party.
France is Turkey's fifth biggest export market and the sixth biggest source of its imports, with bilateral trade worth $14 billion in the first 10 months of 2011.