The bill says anyone denying the deaths as genocide will face a year in jail and a fine of 58 thousand dollars. The legislature needs to be approved by President Nicolas Sarkozy to become law. France's lower house has already approved the bill.
Turkey has acknowledged the loss of Armenian lives, however, it says the death toll is exaggerated and does not amount to genocide.
Press TV has conducted an interview with Brent Budowsky, a columnist with The Hill newspaper, to share his thoughts on the issue. What follows is the text of the interview:
Press TV: Where do you think the relationship between Turkey and France is headed to now?
Budowsky: Well, it has gone from bad to worse right now. I hope there is some way that the French can pull back a bit and that there can be some accommodation. This is not a helpful move. Obviously the French are having a presidential election soon and a lot of this is based on the presidential election on politicking particularly by Sarkozy's government.
We will have an election here in the United States and as anyone knows, it is getting pretty ugly here and politicians do things in election years that are not good. Turkey is an important country; Turkey is the crossroads of Europe in the Middle East; Turkey is an important member of NATO; Turkey is an important country to the future of Europe as well as the future of Middle East.
Obviously, between 500 thousand and 1.5 million Armenians died. It is tragic; it was horrible; we wish it did not happen; we pray for them and we wish them all well in Armenia today. But this was something that came at a very bad time for political reasons.
There are big problems in the Middle East and in Europe and in the world and to be diverting back to this kind of an issue right now in such a divisive way is unhelpful. It will get worse unless the French pull back which I hope they do and I hope some accommodation can be reached that brings dignity to everybody.
Press TV: What kind of sanctions can Turkey impose on France, and will France then impose sanctions against Turkey?
Budowsky: They can impose economic sanctions; they can pull back from supporting an international news agency that the Turks are a significant investor in; they can withdraw contacts both military and economic and civilian.
Then the French will probably try not to retaliate but might have to. It is important that everybody calm down and it is important that everybody pull back and I believe that France has to make the first move in pulling back because they took this action that has inflamed the situation that does not help Armenia, does not help Turkey; does not help France; does not help Europe; it does not help the world.
There are big problems that are immediate now and the people of every one of those countries has a stake in solving those problems from the Middle East right on across to France and this kind of a controversy with more sanctions coming and sanctions in retaliation and demonstrations from all people over an issue that goes back to the early twentieth century does not help anyone.
And it would be in the interest of everybody involved to pull back but the answer to your question is this keeps going forward; it will get worse and there will be worse relations between all of these countries and that is not helpful to any of these countries.
Press TV: If this situation does get worse, what impact will you say this have on Turkey's bid to join the EU?
Budowsky: Obviously, it will not increase the chances that Turkey wants to be in or that the EU would put it in. But this gets back to the point I made earlier. The European Union has tremendous serious major financial, economic and political problems right now. Turkey, it would be nice if it was one of many solutions to these.
There are much more important countries that can be even bigger solutions. But at this moment in the history of Europe, the last thing that Europe needs is this kind of a controversy. The very question of economic stability, democracy, jobs, hope, opportunity and poverty, all of these issues in Europe right now are hanging in the balance because of a financial crisis that is devastating and that is hurting people.
That is what they should be working on now, not debating issues, whatever the merits that the historians could debate from a hundred years ago.