Originally published in The Telegraph
On Monday night the Paris Senate approved the bill, which acknowledges that some 1.5 million Armenian Christians were slaughtered by Ottoman Turks during the First World War.
Anybody who says otherwise will face a year in prison or a fine of up to 45,000 euros (just over £40,000) in France.
In turn, Turkey sees the measure as an insult to its national honour and has already suspended all military, economic and political ties with Paris.
Branding the bill “racist and discriminatory”, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish Prime Minister, called on Mr Sarkozy not to sign the bill, offering unspecified ‘retaliatory measures’ if he does.
“For us it is null and void,” said Mr Erdogan. “We still have not lost our hope that it can be corrected.”
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry also condemned the Senate vote in a statement, saying it should not be ratified by Mr Sarkozy to ‘avoid this being recorded as part of France’s political, legal and moral mistakes.’
The statement added that ‘we will not hesitate to implement, as we deem appropriate, the measures that we have considered in advance’.
Mr Sarkozy’s ruling UMP coalition supported the bill, and his assent is largely seen as a formality.
Critics argue that Mr Sarkozy, who is seeking re-election in the Spring, is more interested in winning the votes of 500,000 Armenians who live in France.
But Alain Juppe, France’s foreign minister, said: “I think this initiative was a bit inopportune, but Parliament has decided on it accordingly. What I’d like to do today is call on our Turkish friends to keep their composure.
“After this wave that has been a little bit excessive, I have to say I’m convinced that we will return to constructive relations – I extend my hand, I hope it will be taken one day.”
The Ottoman Empire was dissolved after the 1914-18 war, and successive Turkish governments have argued that claims of genocide are a direct insult to their nation.
The majority of Turks argue that there was a heavy loss of life on both sides during the fighting in the area, and that mass killing was inevitable result of newly industrialised warfare.
The headline in Ankara’s Hurriyet newspaper today read that Sarkozy ‘massacred democracy’, while the Sozcu daily read : ‘Sarkozy the Satan’.