Turkey has launched a stinging attack on France over 'Genocide' bill

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan blasted French lawmakers on Tuesday for being "racist and discriminatory" after the Senate passed a bill making it a crime to deny that the 1915 massacre of Armenians was genocide, marking the latest salvo in an escalating diplomatic rift between Ankara and Paris.

In a speech to lawmakers from his governing AK Party in Ankara, Mr. Erdogan did not spell out what retaliatory measures his government would take, stressing that Turkey would remain patient and release details based on developments.

"This is a racist decision. This is killing freedom of thought… We won't let France gain credibility through this because their decision means nothing to us. Our sanctions will be disclosed step by step." Mr. Erdogan said, to rapturous applause from his party's lawmakers.

The bill, which only needs French President Nicolas Sarkozy's signature to pass into law, includes the massacre of ethnic Armenians by Ottoman Turk forces in 1915 - an event Turkey recognises but refuses to classify as genocide.

Turkish press was also pushing the angle that Sarkozy, languishing in the polls, was trying to court the significant Armenian population in France (some 500,000 voters) ahead of May’s elections.

Earlier, Turkey had promised total diplomatic rupture with Paris, while the country’s press was united in fury and condemnation of the French parliament. Ankara froze political and military ties with France, a NATO ally, in December after lawmakers in the lower National Assembly passed the bill.

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