7th Jun 2023

Turkey and France clash over Armenia 'genocide'

Turkey has recalled its ambassador to France in protest against a French bid to criminalise denial of the alleged Turkish genocide of Armenians in the early 1900s.

Turkey has always rejected claims by international historians that 1.5 million Armenians died between 1915 and 1923 as a result of systematic genocide while modern-day Armenia was under Turkish Ottoman control.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • A new law could create "irreparable damage" in Turkish-French relations. (Photo: European Commission)

A spokesperson for the foreign ministry in Ankara said on Monday (9 May) that the ambassador was recalled for a short time to discuss what Ankara calls the "baseless allegations of Armenian genocide" in France.

Later this month French parliamentarians are set to discuss and vote on a law that would make denial of the so-called Armenian genocide a crime.

The law would mirror existing French legislation against holocaust-denial, carrying a sentence of up to five years' prison and a €45,000 fine.

"The adoption of these texts will provoke irreparable damage to Franco-Turkish relations," a Turkish government spokesperson said, according to French media.

Ankara recognises just 500,000 Armenian deaths during "the Ottoman war," and rejects the "genocide" tag saying both sides suffered severe losses, with Armenia allied to Russia at the time.

Brussels MEPs, acting on a French initiative late last year, also demanded that Ankara recognises the genocide of Armenians as a "prerequisite for accession to the European Union."

The European Commission's translation database, IATE, defines genocide as "harmful acts...committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group."

A commission official told EUobserver that Brussels' enlargement unit avoids using the word because "the commission is a forward-looking institution."

Trade sanctions mooted

The head of the Turkish parliament's foreign affairs commission, Mehmet Dulger, said this weekend that Turks could boycott French products and French firms could lose lucrative contracts if the legislation is passed, according to Reuters.

"Turkey will not accept becoming a toy in the French election campaign," Dulger said, with a nod toward the French presidential race in 2007.

He added that he would lead a group of Turkish lawmakers to Paris this week to lobby against the bill.

In 2001, Turkey cancelled multi-million euro deals with French enterprises after the French parliament officially recognised the genocide.

Turkish lawmakers are also preparing a rival law accusing France of committing genocide during its colonial rule in Algeria.

The legal proposal has also come under fire from less politicised voices, with Turkish and French intellectuals protesting over the "inflation of laws of memory" and criticising the government's "promulgation of official truths."

Meanwhile, an open letter to "our French friends" signed by nine groups of Turkish entrepreneurs and trade unions, published in several French daily newspapers, said "it is not up to the law to describe history."

Turkey and Armenia have no diplomatic relations and closed borders, with the landlocked country keen for Turkey to open up highways for trade to western Europe.

"We are too small to have enemies," an Armenian diplomat said.


Part of EU middle class 'being squeezed out', MEP warns

EUobserver interviewed Spanish MEP Jordi Cañas to discuss the situation of Europe's middle class, the dangerous political reaction if certain groups feel neglected, and the role that member states and the EU can play at the policy level.

MEPs to urge block on Hungary taking EU presidency in 2024

"This will be the first time a member state that is under the Article 7 procedure will take over the rotating presidency of the council," French Green MEP Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield, the key lawmaker on Hungary, warned.

European Parliament scales back luxury MEP pension fund

The European Parliament's Bureau, a political body composed of the president and its vice-presidents, decided to slash payouts from the fund by 50 percent, freeze automatic indexations, and increase the pension age from 65 to 67.


Right of Reply from the Hungarian government

Authors Samira Rafaela MEP and Tom Theuns present as facts the extreme views of a politically-motivated campaign in the European Parliament. By doing so, they undermine the very foundations of the European Union.

Latest News

  1. Final push for EU-Mercosur deal, amid deforestation fears
  2. Ministers given 50/50 chance of reaching EU asylum deal
  3. EU Commission wants better focus on mental health care
  4. Right of Reply from the Hungarian government
  5. True scale of horror in today's Belarus hard to comprehend
  6. Israeli settlers encircling Jerusalem, EU envoys warn
  7. No clear 'Qatargate effect' — but only half voters aware of EU election
  8. Part of EU middle class 'being squeezed out', MEP warns

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  2. ICLEISeven actionable measures to make food procurement in Europe more sustainable
  3. World BankWorld Bank Report Highlights Role of Human Development for a Successful Green Transition in Europe
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic summit to step up the fight against food loss and waste
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThink-tank: Strengthen co-operation around tech giants’ influence in the Nordics
  6. EFBWWEFBWW calls for the EC to stop exploitation in subcontracting chains

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. InformaConnecting Expert Industry-Leaders, Top Suppliers, and Inquiring Buyers all in one space - visit Battery Show Europe.
  2. EFBWWEFBWW and FIEC do not agree to any exemptions to mandatory prior notifications in construction
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ways to prevent gender-based violence
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: Economic gender equality now! Nordic ways to close the pension gap
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: Pushing back the push-back - Nordic solutions to online gender-based violence
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: The Nordics are ready to push for gender equality

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us