15 September 2006

1012) Gül invites French participation in studies of alleged genocide

Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul has invited France to take part in “the joint commission of historians” established to probe Armenian genocide allegations.

The Armenian question was among the topics discussed during minister Gul’s official visit to France this week. . .

During his meeting with French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy, Gul indicated that Turkey did not abstain from discussing the alleged Armenian genocide and stated that they officially proposed the creation of a joint commission of historians from both sides.

Gul also said that Turkey declared it would accept the outcomes of the joint endeavor.

While Armenian authorities have not yet responded to Turkey’s offer, Gul has offered France participation in the commission.

It has been reported that although Douste-Blazy carefully listened to Gul’s proposal, he gave no definite answer.

In response to the French criticism over Article 301 of Turkish penal code, Gul said that there was no difference between that article and a drafted law submitted to the French parliament regarding the punishment of those who deny the existence of the Armenian genocide.

Pointing out that it was a contradiction for France to demand the abolition of Article 301 on the one hand, and to attempt to adopt the legislation on Armenian genocide allegations on the other, Gul stressed that a historical controversy such as Armenian genocide allegations needed to be clarified by historians.

Criticizing the political decisions of the parliaments that recognized Armenian genocide allegations, Gul said: “No one should expect that we will admit what we did not commit. How can we assume the responsibility of what we did not commit?”

By Ali Ihsan Aydin, Paris
September 15, 2006

Gül suggests French participation in studies of alleged genocide
Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül suggested that France participate in a joint committee of Turkish and Armenian experts to study allegations of an Armenian genocide at the hands of the late Ottoman Empire.

Gül had talks with his French counterpart, Philippe Douste-Blazy, during a dinner late on Wednesday as part of a visit to France.

Referring to Ankara's proposal to establish such a body, Gül said that other countries, including France, could join the proposed committee of Turkish and Armenian academics to study the allegations, reported the Anatolia news agency citing diplomatic sources.

Facing a mounting Armenian campaign to win international recognition for the alleged genocide, last year Turkey called for a joint committee of Turkish and Armenian experts to study the issue.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sent a letter to Armenian President Robert Kocharian proposing the establishment of such a committee but Erdoğan's proposal was turned down by Kocharian, who instead offered an intergovernmental commission that would study ways of resolving problems between the two neighboring countries. Turkey says its proposal is still on the table.

Gül told Douste-Blazy that Turkey's calls for a joint commission remained unanswered.

Diplomatic sources said Gül also raised Ankara's uneasiness over a French bill penalizing any denial of the alleged genocide. French lawmakers debated the controversial bill in May after it was submitted by the opposition Socialist Party. However, in a move that pleased Ankara, the French National Assembly indefinitely postponed parliamentary debate on the bill.

Gül told Douste-Blazy it was a contradiction to hold a parliamentary debate on the bill that restricts freedom of expression, while the European Union is pressing Ankara to amend Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code -- under which a wave of authors and journalists have been tried.

“We cannot accept an historical issue being dragged onto a political platform,” Gül said.

Friday, September 15, 2006
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News

Armenian Genocide: Ankara Urges Paris to "Think"
Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, on a visit to Paris, has reportedly relayed Ankara's concerns over a bill being introduced to the French Parliament by the Socialist Party which would make it a crime to publicly deny the Armenian Genocide. Gul voiced the concerns of the AKP-led administration at a working dinner with his French counterpart, Foreign Minister Phillipe Douste-Blazy. Reminding Douste-Blazy that Ankara had already proposed that a joint commission of historians work together on the matter, Gul said that French historians and historians from any country interested would be welcome to work on the commission, the Hurriyet Turkish newspaper writes.



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