Turkey has reacted with anger to a bill voted by French lawmakers to outlaw denial of the 1915 Armenian genocide.
Turkey immediately announced that it will be cutting military ties and advised that this political decision will cause “irreparable damage" to French- Turkish relations.
The French Parliament voted a law that would ban anyone from denying that the killings of hundreds of thousands of Armenians by Ottoman Turk forces during World War I amount to genocide.
"This is politics based on racism, discrimination and xenophobia," furiously reacted Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, ordering Ankara's ambassador to Paris to return home and banning any political visits between the two NATO allies.
Read full story - Turkey Freezes Relationship with France over Genocide Bill
The United States urged the two NATO allies to revisit their relationship and resolve their differences, as they both are important allies and partners in the North Atlantic Alliance.
Erdogan accused France's President Nicolas Sarkozy of alluring domestic voters, who are Armenians or have Armenian origins. "History and people will never forgive those exploiting historical facts to achieve political ends," he said, reflecting a view of Sarkozy's motives that is shared by many of his domestic critics.
Nevertheless, Turkey argues that Armenia's estimate of 1.5 million dead is overstated. It puts the death toll at about 500,000 and denies this was genocide and blames the deaths to fighting and starvation during World War I; also accusing the Armenians of siding with Russian invaders during the Russian – Ottoman War.
The new law will impose a 45,000 euro fine and a one-year jail term on genocide deniers, which some estimate to be a very high price to pay for past wrongdoing.
Angry crowds in Ankara were chanting today in front of the French embassy: "We have not committed genocide, we defended the homeland. Wait for us France, we will come."
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) issued a statement of concern about the French vote setting a precedent and warned that the "criminalization of debates on history's true course, even of obviously false and offensive statements about a nation's tragic moment, is not conducive to better understanding" among people and states.
The old tension between Turkey and France escalated today and the relationship was thrown into crisis. France has always been a firm opponent of allowing Turkey to join the European Union and has insisted on more transparence, especially regarding human rights and the rights of Kurds in country.
France is facing recession in the middle of a sovereign debt crisis, while Turkey has enjoyed growth rates of 8%, with 78 million people and is a huge market for European goods.