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Armenia: Turkey Recalls Ambassador From France Over Genocide Bill

Ankara, 18 January 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Turkey today recalled its ambassador to France, Sonmez Koksal, for consultations, after the lower chamber of the French parliament unanimously approved a bill recognizing the Armenian genocide of 1915. Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit warned yesterday that France could face a "serious crisis" in its relations with Turkey if the bill is passed.

Earlier, the French National Assembly -- the lower house of the French parliament -- agreed on the single-sentence bill, which says that "France publicly recognizes the Armenian genocide of 1915." The deputy chairwoman of the Assembly, Christine Lazergues, announced that the bill had been adopted unanimously.

The bill does not explicitly blame the Turks for the massive killings of Armenians during World War I. Armenians say that some 1.5 million Armenians living in Anatolia between 1915 and 1917 were systematically killed by the Turks, but Turkey denies the accusations of genocide. It says some 300,000 Armenians and thousands of Turks were killed in what it describes as domestic unrest.