French Foreign mitnistry says it is "very attentive" to Turkish anger over Armenian genocide bill

The comment from France's Foreign Ministry came as Turkish legislators lobbied their French counterparts to vote down the Armenian genocide bill. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday likened the issue to a "virus," hinting of possible repercussions for ties.

"The relationship between France and Turkey is not an ordinary relationship," he said. "The French parliament will not inject a virus like the so-called Armenian genocide into such an important relationship."

Earlier Wednesday, French Foreign Ministry spokesman Denis Simonneau said: "We are very attentive to the Turkish authorities' reactions on this subject."

He did not comment further, referring reporters to an earlier declaration and to lawmakers who drafted the bill.

The proposed law would make it a crime to deny that the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks at the beginning of the 20th century constituted a genocide.

Turkey says the death toll given by Armenians is inflated and that Armenians in Turkey were killed in civil unrest - not genocide - as the Ottoman Empire collapsed.

The French bill was proposed by the opposition Socialists. It is similar to a law making it a crime in France to deny the Holocaust ofWorld War II.

The visiting Turkish legislators from Erdogan's ruling party and the opposition met with senior French legislators from the ruling right and opposition left.

Lawmaker Onur Oymen said they "relayed the Turkish people's strong reaction to our French colleagues" and warned that there were calls for a boycott of French goods in Turkey and that Turkish-French relations would be severely harmed if the bill is passed, Turkey's Anatolia news agency reported.

Bulgarian lawmakers on Wednesday refused to recognize the mass killings as a genocide, saying this could endanger relations with neighboring Turkey.

Legislators voted 81-56 with 33 abstentions against a draft resolution proposed by the ultranationalist party Ataka, calling for "the recognition of the Armenian genocide by the Turks."

The motion was rejected with the votes of the parties from the Socialist-led ruling coalition that also includes a mainly ethnic Turkish party, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, the AP reports.

"This is a resolution ... that aims to complicate our relations with neighboring Turkey," Socialist lawmaker Mihail Mikov told parliament.

According to official statistics, Bulgaria - a tiny Balkan country of 7.8 million - has an 800,000-strong ethnic Turkish minority.

About 11,000 ethnic Armenians also live in Bulgaria, and most of them are heirs of Armenian refugees who fled Ottoman Turkey during the early 20th century massacre.

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