France has called on Turkey to recognize the mass killings of Armenians during World War 1 as genocide.
In the latest twist to the debate surrounding Turkey's eventual membership of the EU, France has demanded that Ankara recognize the mass killing of Armenians during World War I. Speaking after a meeting in Brussels on Monday, French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said, "France will pose this question. I think Turkey as a large country has a duty to remember." Barnier made it clear that France's demand is not a condition for opening membership negotiations with Turkey but said it would be raised once talks are opened. This is a highly contentious issue for Turkey, which has refused to recognize the killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians as genocide. Ankara insists that between 250,000 and 500,000 Armenians as well as thousands of Turks were killed when they clashed during World War I. Armenians say that their people died or were deported under Turkish Ottoman rule. France officially recognized the Armenian genocide in 2001 and is now coming under pressure from Armenians living in France to raise the issue with Turkey. Barnier's words come just three days ahead of a crucial summit of EU leaders -- where Ankara is expected to be given the go ahead to open negotiations. It is emphasized that negotiations are open, but do not guarantee EU membership at the end. (EUobserver.com)