09 June 2006
France recently tried to pass a law to punish those who deny the Armenian "genocide" following in the footsteps of Switzerland, which passed a similar law in 2003.
Although France's efforts to put severe restrictions on freedom of thought and expression failed this time, it had previously succeeded in passing a bill recognizing the so-called genocide.
One cannot remain calm after reading articles of certain people in Turkey calling themselves intellectual -- although such appellations should come from others, rather than themselves -- over the attempts by France to put obstacles before freedom of speech. This is particularly startling coming from a country that engineered the French Revolution and is recognized as a pioneer of freedom.
It seems that these so-called intellectuals, who underline the emancipatory aspect of the revolution, fail to remember the reality of the reign of terror, the massacres committed by the Paris Commune under Robespierre, some 42,000 French citizens who lost their lives under the guillotine, and thousands of people detained without solid evidence.
France's claims that it is backing the Kurds under the leadership of Madame Mitterrand are nothing but feigned humanitarianism since it doesn't recognize its own ethnic groups as minorities and turns a deaf ear to their requests for further rights.
France should be the last country to throw around accusations of "genocide," as it is well documented that the Vichy government, established in southern France as a puppet administration of Nazi Germany during World War II, handed over 75,000 Jews to German forces, and that these people were transported by French trains to Nazi concentration camps to be killed in blast furnaces.
It should be an example of historic effrontery for France, a country whose generals confessed to have ordered the slaughter and displacement of nearly a million people during Algeria's War of Independence, to play the role of a judge to accuse Turkey of committing genocide and to politicize the issue.
The French gathered Armenian volunteers from all around the world during World War I and the Turkish War of Independence, trained them in Bulgaria, put them into Legionnaire uniforms, and sent them to southeastern Turkey under the French flag to fight against Turks: these pictures are still fresh in the collective memory of the Turkish people. How dare France, the state of bogus freedoms, step forth as the champion of human rights, forgetting about the deaths it is responsible for?
Is France haunted by its past promises to the Armenian people in the 1800s and 1900s for an independent Armenian state, made to manipulate them for its own political gains, and then how, along with the U.S. and Great Britain, it failed to keep them in the Paris Peace Conference of 1919? Or does it wish to erect a new wall before Turkey's European Union membership, to which France has voiced its clear objections?
People in Anatolia have a saying we can roughly translate like so: "He mocks my faith but he's no believer himself."
Apparently France, the inventor of perfume in the late Middle Ages to suppress the foul odors of the body, doesn't have the habit of looking in the mirror and seeing the beam in its own eye.
For its mask grows more transparent with each step it takes.
09 June 2006
French Minister is coming to heal "Genocide" Bill & to sell Nuclear Plant & Helicopter
The French Foreign Trade minister is coming to Turkey to heal the relations between two countries that were strained due to the so-called Armenian Genocide bill.
The representatives of 25 of France’s biggest companies will also accompany the minister.
Christine Lagarde is expected to discuss the nuclear plant, Marmaray and the Turkish Armed Forces helicopter tenders.
Speaking to Zaman Daily, French Minister of Foreign Trade Lagarde said that they would offer solid investments.
He also revealed that the two countries would sign a contract for the encouragement of mutual investments: the first initiations of which started on 2 September 1987.
Lagarde, one of the “most distinctive” ministers of the French government, had moved to Paris in 2005 after resigning as the chair of the board of directors at the American Baker&McKenzie, one of the world’s leading international law firms.
The trade volume between Turkey and France is around $10 billion.
The 2005 figures revealed that France’s export figures totaled $5.9 billion, while import figures remained at $3.8 billion.
Around 300 French companies employ 40,000 people in Turkey.
“The Turkish market is very important for French investors. Last year’s exports to Turkey grew by 11 percent.
This rate is double that of France’s general trade average. We encourage our companies to invest in Turkey,” said Lagarde, noting that Turkey was the fifth largest consumer of French products outside the EU region.
To cite an example, the French minister drew attention to the investments of giant international French companies like Carrefour, BNP Parisbas, Renault, Areva and Alsom.
While France was placed to top the countries to enter direct foreign capital to Turkey, it drew 7th place in the list despite the growing interest of French companies.
Of the total volume of foreign capital in Turkey, the volume of total French capital that has entered the country is in the vicinity of six percent.
From a group of 150 countries that import French products, the French Foreign Ministry singled out 25 countries, including Turkey, for exclusive efforts to improve trade with, said Lagarde.
Fourteen French companies are being briefed on the Turkish sectors of transportation and distribution by UBIFRANCE, a French association established to help French companies to expand into international markets.
The French minister considers UBIFRANCE as a major source of assistance.
Several French companies have been cooperating with Turkish companies and/or institutions, such as OYAK, the Armed Forces Pension Fund.
It is “military” contracts that make up $4 billion of the $14 billion deal that the French companies are looking to sign with the Turkish companies.
The opposition Socialist Party last month opened for discussion a bill in the French Parliament that would penalize the refusal to acknowledge the so-called Armenian genocide.
Efforts by the government worked at ending the discussion and passing of this motion.
The government stands firm in its opposition to the motion, a sign that any future reiterations will follow the same line of argument in the government should the motion ever comes before the legislation, said Lagarde.
‘We have a chance in the nuclear tender’
Adjournment of talks over the motion gave “temporary” relief to French companies active in the Turkish market, along with Eurocopter—the French company that stands out as most likely to be granted late this week an exclusive right to provide attack helicopters for the Turkish army.
Ms. Lagarde classified nuclear energy as one of the safest energy sources to obtain, and added that a clear presentation of the nature of nuclear energy will help gain public approval of the project.
There were, in the past, serious reactions from the French public against the use of nuclear energy, said Lagarde, and emphasized, “Well and clearly conducted communications,” as well as “intelligibility” helped triumph over this reaction.
There is little doubt that Turkey’s non-government organizations will act like their French counterparts in abandoning their opposition views over the use of nuclear energy; and what is important is to convince a large proportion of the public of the need for nuclear energy, said the French minister when she emphasized the French experience in overcoming public opposition.
France is one of the world’s leading countries actively involved in the production of nuclear energy, said Ms. Lagarde, and classed the kind of nuclear experiences that draws from specialization as unusual.
By Ali Ihsan Aydin
June 14, 2006
At Last, A French Acknowledgement
A May 18 column by Alexander Adler published in French daily Le Figaro made me say, ‘At last!’ Adler is a French historian who is fair about the Armenian and Kurdish question. On the day when the bill to criminalize denial of the so-called Armenian genocide was debated in the French Parliament, Alexander went one step further and reminded the French of their responsibilities in this tragedy: ‘It is certain that there won’t be any regret over how, during the 1915 genocide, France was fighting against the Ottoman Empire. The same France helped those Armenians who could survive the genocide to settle in the south and even fight against the new republic of Mustafa Kemal in French uniforms.’ (Le Figaro, ‘Glasnost torque sur la question armenienne.’)
It was the first time I’d read a Frenchman acknowledge that the Armenians were wearing French military uniforms. I talked about this hidden fact with my friends at the meeting of the European Poetry Academy. Members from France, Belgium and Luxembourg didn’t know this fact. After asking why there are so many Armenians in France, I talked about the French occupation of (Antep) Gaziantep, Cukurova and Hatay. They didn’t know about it.
So what should be done? After the bill wasn’t voted on in the French Parliament, this doesn’t mean that the problem has disappeared. We’ll face it again, like in the US House of Representatives and the Senate. It is possible to explain the French role on Ottoman soil, the French occupation and Armenian Legionnaires in French uniforms. Therefore, the Foreign Ministry and the Turkish Institution for History should prepare a booklet in Turkish, French, English and Armenian. Proof from the French archives should be given in this booklet, which should be distributed to universities, Parliament deputies, political parties and the French media, including the regional organs. If we don’t do this, we’ll have to resort to economic threats.
BY OZDEMIR INCE