25 Jan 2012

Permanent sanctions against France threatened

5:26 am on 25 January 2012

Turkey has threatened to impose permanent sanctions on France, if President Nicolas Sarkozy signs a bill making it a criminal offence to deny that Ottoman Turks committed genocide against Armenians during World War I.

Armenia says up to 1.5 million people died in 1915-16 as the Ottoman empire split. Turkey rejects the term genocide.

Turkish ministers described the vote in the French senate to support the bill as unjust and completely disrespectful.

Ambassador Tahsin Burcuoglu, says there will be repercussions.

The Senate approved the bill on Monday by 127 votes to 86.

MPs in the lower house approved the bill last month. Ankara froze ties with France afterwards.

France has already recognised the killings as a genocide but the new bill means anyone denying it faces a year in jail and a fine of 45,000 euros ($US57,000).

France has half a million citizens of Armenian descent.

Correspondents say their votes may be important in this year's presidential elections.