03 October 2006

1071) Video: French Inhumanity in Algeria - French Hypocrisy & French Bill







French Inhumanity in Algeria
The Algerian War (lasting nearly a decade, ending in 1962) claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands, with over 2.5 million French conscripts and reservists taking part; but France's widescale abuses first began once France violently took over Algeria in 1830. . .

(Algeria was then nominally a part of the Ottoman Empire, which Algeria had voluntarily joined in the early 16th century, once Ottomans helped liberate Algeria from Spanish control.)

France does not want to talk about its inhuman methods which, granted, was commonplace among the colonialist nations of the time. But it's all here; systematic torture, destruction of villages, rape, massacres, and even concentration camps. Once France relocated perhaps two million Algerians, from the mountainous areas to the plains, many could not adjust; their economy and agriculture were further spoiled when France detonated atomic bombs in the Sahara.

What France needs to consider is its hypocritical moral posturing regarding "genocide"; it is a crime in France to speak the historical truth about what happened to World War I Ottoman-Armenians, given the mindless politics of genocide, and the influence of France's Armenian community. Not only is there no evidence for an "Armenian Genocide," as France discovered in 1919-21 along with ally Britain during the conducting of the Malta Tribunal, but France allowed its Armenian Legion to commit systematic mass murder upon the helpless Muslim population in Cilicia, after the war.

France is therefore falsely accusing a nation of a terrible crime while outlawing the truth, and at the same time while keeping quiet about its own terrible crimes.

Many YouTube videos on the Algerian subject are in French, keeping English-speakers in the dark, in regards to the excesses of France. The excerpts of the 1992 documentary that is featured here was produced in France, and the truth is spoken directly from the horses' mouths: French veterans who were involved in the war. (Over two dozen were interviewed. The version of the film featured here has been translated into Turkish, and English subtitles have been added.)

The writers of "The War WIthout a Name" were Patrick Rotman and Bertrand Tavernier, the latter also having directed. The original was four hours long, and a variation of this production (from 2002) may be downloaded at:

http://www.archive.org/details/Algeria_d

An interesting newspaper article on the documentary may be accessed at (copy, combine & paste):

www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen
/Algerian_Film_14920.html

Rotman is quoted as saying: "It's a shameful page of French history that people decide either to turn or to rip out."

The article caps off with "According to the Algerian
government, 1.5 million Algerians (mostly civilians) were killed," the favorite number of most Armenians; as much as we are informed at the article's beginning that the real figure was 500,000, EXACTLY as in the case of the Armenians! (Most of whom died in non-murderous ways, famine & disease, the same as for most of the nearly 3 million Ottoman Muslims who died.)

Patrick Rotman also co-wrote a 2007 feature film entitled "L'ennemi intime" (The Intimate Enemy), called the French "Platoon" in some circles, and was directed by Florent Emilio Siri.



Pot calling the kettle black : Mr. Chirac's Terrible Amnesia

FRENCH PRESIDENT JACQUES CHIRAC SAYS: HONESTLY, TURKEY SHOULD RECOGNIZE "GENOCIDE"

‘Genocide’ tension with France grows
Relations between Ankara and Paris suffered a serious blow on last Saturday with . . the statement by French President Jacques Chirac declaring on a visit to Armenia that Turkey should recognize the massacre of Armenians during World War I as "genocide" before its possible accession to the European Union.

Mr. CHIRAC MUST BE SUFFERING FROM THE RAVAGES OF A TERRIBLE AMNESIA

France ought to never forget that their own genocide perpetrated against the Algerians in North Africa is well known by the world at large.It must be the fact that French President Jacques Chirac is conveniently forgetting France's despicable behavior in North Africa that he now dares to pass judgment on a country such as the Republic of Turkey.

The proverbial saying "Pot calling the kettle black" applies very appropriately here because before criticizing others, Mr.Chirac should first study his country's very own bloody French history.

Here's what Jacques Chirac was saying to Turkey while he was in Armenia on the subject of the so-called genocide, and what he really thinks about today's international race relations and problems.

Exclusive: «BBC News:The President of South Africa Thabo Mbeki told to understand West Africa by Jacques Chirac The Pace of Mediation in the Ivory Coast by Dr.Gary Busch» :

http://www.francewatcher.org/2005/02/bbc_news_mbeki_.html


THE FOLLOWING ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF JACQUES CHIRAC'S STATEMENT APPEARED IN THE NEWSPAPERS IN ABIDJAN iIN IVORY COAST, NOT SO LONG AGO.THIS IS A STATEMENT IN WHICH CHIRAC BARES HIS SOUL KNOWINGLY OR INADVERTENTLY AND EXPOSES HIS REAL SELF WHEN HE SAYS TO THABO MBEKI THE FOLLOWING:

My dear Mbeki:

Here in West Africa I'll tell you how the psychology works; At one time Samori Toure and his friends were sold to the white man and murdered, Sekou Toure, Thomas Sankara, Kwame N’kruma, Lumumba were all murdered. West Africans use their intellectualism, knowledge and education to destroy not to build. These West Africans (QC, Doctors, presidents, former presidents, students, all social layers included) have no clue about World politics; they do not understand the basic notions which form the foundation for development and which are: peace, self-respect and cooperation. Mr Wade, the president of Senegal and all these ‘intellectuals’ surround me but do not contradict me if I am wrong.

I have known Cote D’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) well before you, I thought I understood the people of South Africa but the West African psychology has derailed in that country. So the country wants to escape and possibly join you. Indeed! (you’re a pollutant Mbeki) but in my struggle to recover it, and put the psychology right, all the West Africans know my intentions and those of my government. The ECOWAS (Economic Order of West African States) is present, The UN is present, the AU is present. Every African country has its representatives in the country. They all know that there are no African rebels other than the French army.

When we destroyed the Ivory Coast air force and killed so many Africans, the same Africans were the ones who supported me afterwards to impose an embargo upon them.

It is not an insult when I say that your mediation has failed. Here in the psychology of the West Africa, THE WHITE MAN IS THE ABSOLUTE MASTER AND THE BLACK MAN IS THE SLAVE AND THE SERVANT. I am neither making it up nor just saying it, but, it shows in their behaviour. I just read their behaviour and build my case, and while I am sitting here, I am still reading the behaviour (you know what I mean). Otherwise I would not be allowed in Senegal today on “African soil” and be welcome as a king. Do you really think that any African leader who behaves like me, can set foot on European soil or European country? Ask Colonel Kadafi?

God created Africa and put these West Africans here to serve us. These Africans do not grow up, do not mature and will never grow up nor become mature whatever their level of education and age. They could be QC, ( Queen's Council) doctors,professors, presidents, former presidents all the way through to the peasant they will always remain kids in the head.

From my position, I can ask them to fight; they will fight without asking a question as you have already noticed. I have the power to decide where and when I want war to break out and with the helping hand of the West African psychology, the war will happen. If I am bored, I call them for a Francofolie meeting, (I am sure you are familiar with the word.

Francofolie is a monitoring tool to ensure that the prescribed West African psychology is working and if anybody needs resetting, we reset them) they will all be there. That's francofolly. The ability to speak French is a big PLUS. But let us recognize the francopholie of Haitians for what it is: A social, cultural, political, weapon utilized for no good purpose.

I have the power to manipulate them, they gave that power to me because you can see that they have not grown up, they have not matured at all.

My dear Mbeki, I can see that you have good intentions for your African brothers, bUT they will not listen to you because you are not a WHITE MAN. What you could possibly do is to hand your mission over to a white tramp, dress him up and it would do the business. They will listen to him because he is a white man, otherwise you are wasting your time.

You are not a white man, your mission is a failure, your own African brothers in blood will never listen to you because you are not a white man. It is sad but it is also the sad truth. That’s why I said that before you get involved you must know and understand this psychology.

To better understand my thesis on African Psychology, let’s together go through some historical facts:

As you well know, Africa has been through the worse atrocities the world has ever known and especially this part of Africa which has suffered and is still suffering. Long ago Africans have been chased, poached, caught, tied like animals and piled up like sardines and shipped across the world for sale. That period was the period of slavery of which Senegal is bearing the fresh scars. What lesson have Africans learned from it? NONE.

Then we (French and others) invented the invasion called (colonization) during which Africans suffered the worse. Africans were forced to work for us, they went through the same atrocities and humiliations. What lesson have Africans learned from it?

NONE.

During the two European wars (world wars I & II), the poor Africans under some derogatory names of Senegalese fusiliers were used as sniffer dogs in the snow to free our trapped and despirited parents from the Nazis. Many Africans lost their lives under the French flag.

When we celebrate the liberation of Europe who mentions them? Nobody. When these Africans dared to ask us to compensate them, we French told them to get lost. What lesson have Africans learned from it. NONE.

They wanted their independence; we gave them their independence with small prints tagged at the bottom and on the conditions that they stay our slaves. What lesson have Africans learned from it? NONE

All Africans have witnessed and still remember how Jean Bedel Bokassa from the republic of Central Africa was treated by Giscard D’Estaing and his government. Bocassa was proclaimed emperor, he was humiliated, after this all the riches from his country were transferred to France, he was then deposed by the very same French government. What lesson have Africans learned from it? NONE.

Then came the genocide of Rwanda when millions and millions of Africans fought against each other for no apparent reasons. Millions and millions of Africans lost their lives. All these African leaders including the UN know very well the role France played in this genocide. But what lesson have Africans learned from it? NONE

Then there have been the following cases; Congo Brazza (the president was democratically elected and deposed by France), the same Republic of Central Africa (the president was democratically elected and deposed by France), Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad. I could give you examples until year 20yx. But what lesson have Africans learned from these unfortunate events? NONE.

PRESIDENT CHIRAC OF FRANCE CONTINUES :
Many Africans live in France and in other European countries. They know how we treat them. These African leaders know the lives of their countrymen in Europe. For example, we can arrest an African and detain him for no reason. We have recently voted laws in France to limit the number of Africans entering our many Universities. We refuse visas to Africans.

Currently, while I am in Senegal, I can telephone my police and instruct them to arrest any African walking in any street in Paris, put them on any plane provided it is flying to Africa and put them anywhere the crew desires and I will be applauded here in Dakar, and possibly throughout all West Africa

But what lesson are Africans learning from all these treatments?

NONE

You see as Europeans we believe in one law: eye for eye, tooth for tooth. You kill one of our Europeans we will kill millions of yours, Africans. What do Africans believe in? Nothing.

CHIRAC CONTINUES:
The West African is a F**** slave to the white man, my dear Mbeki, you are wasting your time. Your own brothers in flesh and blood will not listen to you, for you are not a white man and you have not come to destroy like we did.

ANALYSIS:
What does this speech have to do with Jacques Chirac's statement that Turkey has to admit to genocide if it ever wants to be a part of the European Union?

There are several ways we can imagine and read Chirac's mind in making the implication that Turkey will never be a part of the European Union:

1) He thinks that Turks will not be able to accept this challenge, therefore will forfeit the cherished position of being considered European. After all, Europeans confess their crime as the Germans did, and that Chirac accepts similar sins in the name of France, which had truly committed many Genocides on the Africans,especially in Algeria,he can not grasp the idea that TURKS TRULY DO NOT HAVE THAT SIN TO CONFESS because they did not commit any such crime.

2) Like the majority of Europeans,Chirac sees Turks as inferiors, as OTHERS, the way he described West Africans who, in his words still LOVE them, want to emulate them, even though they are treated so unfairly. Chirac says they keep coming , continuing to ask for more cruelty and rejection because they are so simple-minded, like children,who are slaves of the white man (in this case Europeans). It's the WHITE SUPREMECY prejudice that started who knows when, but came to the surface during the Crusades and has never left us. This concept gets somewhat confusing because Turks are considered Caucasian, but not Aryan, and not Christian.

3)Chirac is scared by the enormous power and young virility of Turks.He is afraid that when the gates are opened, Turks will overwhelm Europe, as he knows it, and dominate every aspect of life. If Turkey is admitted, Europe will lose its own old Christian identity established in the Europeans' "CHRISTIAN CLUB".


Mahmut Esat Ozan
meozan@turkishforum.com



PACE criticizes Chirac linking Turkey's EU bid with 'genocide'

The Strasbourg-based Council of Europe yesterday criticized French President Jacques Chirac, who said Turkey must acknowledge the alleged Armenian genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Empire if it wants to become a member of the European Union.

“Rules do not change in the middle of the game,” Rene van der Linden, president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), was quoted as saying.

"I did not like the remarks by Chirac. Those statements are political and clear why they were delivered," he added.

During a visit to the Armenian capital of Yerevan over the weekend, Chirac said Turkey needed to face up to its Ottoman past in response to a question on Turkey's EU aspirations.

Asked if he thought Turkey should recognize the 1915-1917 killings as genocide before it joins the EU, the French president replied, “Honestly, I believe so. Each country grows by acknowledging its dramas and errors of the past.” “It is not the first time [Chirac] is abruptly changing his idea.”

Linden also said there were steps ahead Turkey should take on the way to joining the EU but emphasized that he did not consider right attempts to lay down recognition by Ankara of the alleged genocide as a precondition to become an EU member.

Until now, France had refused to make a direct link between the alleged genocide issue and Turkey's EU membership bid. The bloc has not made it a condition of entry.

“If there are serious issues, they are discussed but they cannot be included within the pre-determined conditions. Loss of trust leads to lack of confidence and this harms the entire negotiating process,” he added.

The EU Commission also responded to the French president, with Louis Michel, the Belgian member of the commission, who said the EU cannot lay down additional political criteria for Turkey.

“Turkey has great importance for the EU. To see this, it is enough to have a look at the area where the energy lines meet,” he was quoted as saying.

Michel said Turkey needed the EU but the bloc needed Turkey even more, stressing that Turkey played a key role in crises in Iraq, the Middle East and Iran.

Le Figaro: Speech is more useful than law
French daily Le Figaro claimed a speech made by Chirac in Yerevan would be “more useful” than the legislation by the French National Assembly of a bill criminalizing any denial of the alleged genocide.

The paper also argued that Chirac did not intend to change the Copenhagen criteria required for full membership in the EU saying the president spoke so in the name of setting certain values.

Also referring to Chirac's comparison between the alleged Armenian genocide and the Holocaust during his speech in Yerevan, the paper claimed that such a comparison would lead to criticism especially by the Jews.

Chirac had said, “Can one say that Germany, which has deeply acknowledged the Holocaust, has as a result lost credit? It has grown,” and urged Turkey to take inspiration from that and other examples.

The French president's comments with regard to the alleged Armenian genocide went farther than in the past, using the word “genocide” directly for the first time. In 2004, Chirac said Turkey should recognize the killings and make “an effort to remember” in order to join the EU. The French National Assembly has officially recognized the killings as genocide.

The bill put forth by France's Socialists to make denial of the alleged genocide punishable by a year in prison and a 45,000-euro fine will be put to a vote at the National Assembly on Oct. 12.

October 3, 2006
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News


France, Armenia and the unbearable attraction of Turcophobic politics

This week a good number of media outlets will cover in great detail the visit of French President Jacques Chirac to Armenia. They are right to do so. Chirac's visit to Armenia signifies a new level of French willingness to escalate tensions between France and Turkey. Before getting into the details, motivations and outcome of this visit, however, let me underline in no uncertain terms that those who think they can get away with such irresponsible political behavior are mistaken. And let me emphasize that I am not . . . referring to immature calls for boycotting French products or small demonstrations in front of the French Embassy. I am also not referring to a senseless barrage of insults against the French Republic and its crimes committed in Algeria. In fact, I am referring to a much deeper phenomenon.

Although many of our European colleagues may think otherwise, since Turkey's EU drive accelerated in 2003, the Turkish elite have been able to acutely register the ups and downs of the intra-European debate on Turkey. Not only the Turkish intelligentsia but also ordinary Turks are very well aware of which countries, political leaders and parties are obstructing Turkey's EU aspirations. They also take notice of what's happening on the Armenian issue.

It is increasingly becoming clear that French, Austrian, Danish and Dutch opposition to Turkey's EU membership is based not only on pure political interests. There is a much deeper process at work. We are dealing with a new version of Turcophobia. I am referring to a non-clinical situation, a very peculiarly negative attitude or a compilation of prejudices against Turkey. French Turcophobia has a particularly wide base and goes well beyond President Chirac or his entourage. For example, Nicholas Sarkozy's recent comments that Turkey had no place in the European Union were a clear sign that the next French election will highlight Turcophobic issues in the approaching presidential election.

So what does Chirac's visit to Armenia serve, then? Let me explain. It serves four things. First, it extends crucial political support to an Armenia that is run by a small nationalist clan which suppresses democracy and has hijacked Armenia's foreign policy debate. Thanks to the Kocharian clan, Armenian foreign policy now rests on Turkey's recognition of ?genocide;? something that is not going to happen but will help prolong Kocharian's oligarchic rule. Second, it provides political support to a country that occupies 20 percent of Azerbaijani territory, including seven regions outside of Nagorno-Karabakh and thus rewards intransigent political behavior. Third, it cripples the precarious progress made in the Turkish domestic debate on the Armenian issue. Fourth, by linking the Armenian issue to Turkey's EU accession it invites a serious deterioration in French-Turkish relations with a potential impact on economic interests.

I have been to Armenia three times in the last three years. In all three of my visits I met young, enthusiastic and talented Armenians who wanted normal relations with Turkey. They wanted an open border and to live in a normal country that was not run by Kocharian's oligarchs. They agree that the road to normalization with Turkey should not start with how we describe the events of 1915. Young Armenians want a future in Europe, believe in Western ways and aspire to be part of the European family. Chirac's visit only served to silence these progressive Armenians and emboldened those who rule Armenia with an iron fist and will eventually isolate Armenia from the rest of the world.

The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline has already bypassed Armenia. Turkey has repeatedly told Yerevan that it risks being isolated further if it does not act responsibly in the Karabakh negotiations. The Kars-Akhalkalaki-Baku railway project is well under way and unfortunately will even further isolate Armenia from the rest of the region and the world. This is exactly what the Kocharian clan wants, as ?genocide? recognition is a recipe for impasse. This impasse allows them to rule Armenia, sell its infrastructure to Russia and run a small, oligarchic and impoverished country.

In the final analysis, Chirac's visit to Armenia may provide a photo opportunity for Kocharian, a couple of days of media attention and political satisfaction for the diaspora. But what real good is in it for Armenia? What does such a provocative visit accomplish in terms of the resolution of the Karabakh conflict or the increasingly doomed isolation of Armenia? What does French support to Armenia offer in terms of alleviating Armenian poverty or the lingering democracy deficit in Armenia?

Also, I am amazed at the level of French naiveté, which rests on the belief that the price for angering Turkey and/or excluding Turkey from the EU is manageable. Kindness is the key word when there is a need for troops in Lebanon or the issue is European energy diversification. Thoughtfulness dominates when Turkey is asked to play a moderating role upon its citizens in a variety of European countries as immigration/integration issues become extremely important. Yet France has no qualms about opening old wounds and provoking a country over a very sensitive historic issue.

What does France hope to achieve from sowing the seeds of antagonism and provoking Turkey in an increasingly shrinking world that has brought civilizational discord to the doorstep of Europe? This is unclear. What is clear though is that France has become the leading Turcophobic state in Europe.

October 3, 2006
Suat Kınıklıoğlu
© 2005 Dogan Daily News Inc.


Gul Cautions over Possible Rift During French 'Year of Armenia'

Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul’s visit to France to take part in an intercultural dialog meeting coincides with the inauguration of France’s “Year of Armenia.”

Noting that Turkey would not intervene in France’s relations with third parties, Gul said that the Armenian issue would not harm bilateral relations between Turkey and France, which have significantly improved recently. In a press conference held in Paris, Gul, who first recalled that more than 400,000 Turks live in France, said both France and Turkey should take precautionary measures to prevent possible rifts between the country’s Armenian and Turkish communities. Stressing that Turkey’s E.U. membership bid had been used as a propaganda tool in French domestic politics, Gul stated they respected pluralistic democracy. To this end, Gul said, “Democracy has both weaknesses and strengths; this is natural.”

Gul also said Turkey would initiate a comprehensive campaign in a few months to convince the French public, which has been opposed to Turkey’s E.U. membership, to accept Turkey. Stating that Turkey attached great importance to its relations with France, Gul said: “The views of France have been very important throughout Turkey’s venture toward full membership. Turkey would have never begun negotiation talks with the E.U. if French President Jacques Chirac had not offered his support on Dec. 17.” In response to a comment over France’s demand for a military base in Cyprus, Gul noted with regard to the Cyprus issue that every country should consider international treaties, adding: “France has interests, and so does Turkey. When these are taken into account, common sense will prevail.”

Meanwhile, at a press conference held at the French foreign ministry, the country’s foreign minister responded harshly to an Armenian reporter who asked whether it was a contradiction for France to organize the “Year of Armenia” in France as Turkey prepared celebrations for the “Year of France.” The French foreign minister replied, “Cultural and political affairs should never be confused with each other.”

By Ali Ihsan Aydin, Paris
September 13, 2006
zaman.com


Paris court to hear Armenian case against Turkish Consulate General

A Paris court will hear a case next week filed against the Turkish Consulate General in the French capital by an Armenian group demanding the removal of part of the consulate's Web site, the Anatolia news agency reported yesterday.

The Armenian group, the Comité de Défense de la Cause Arménienne (CDCA), is accusing the consulate of spreading “denial propaganda” concerning an alleged Armenian genocide during World War I at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.

The CDCA based its complaint on a resolution adopted by the European Parliament in 1987 and on a law promulgated in France in 2001 specifically condemning denial of the alleged genocide.

In 2004 France implemented the European e-Commerce directive, which determines the liability of providers for the content of their customers.

The Paris court in 2004 had overruled the CDCA case against the consulate, giving “diplomatic immunity” as justification.

While the Turkish government's lawyers argue that the 2001 legislation should be the basis for a decision, the Armenian group argues that the 2004 legislation should prevail, Anatolia said.

Turkish Daily News



Two Frances

Friday is Bastille Day. Our country's relations with France go way back, well beyond the French Revolution; however, this relationship could be altered throughout our European Union membership process. If logic does not prevail in France, the relationship could suffer. Under the assumption that the French public is against Turkey's EU membership, we are faced with a rigorous anti-Turkish campaign that has involved major opinion leaders since 2004. But on the other hand, there is also a France that invests in Turkey and looks at the world from a much broader perspective.


Deep France:

Recently, a French journalist from Le Figaro came to our university as part of Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen's Association (TUSIAD) promotional and lobbying activities in EU countries. After listening to our arguments, he summarized the narrow-mindedness of the opinion leaders in France by saying, “France, which can't even handle its suburbs, sees Turkey as a huge suburb.”

In fact, the French model of integration equalizes and dissolves differences on the basis on secularism and republicanism; however, this is not true for all differences. Muslims in France were never really included in this integration process. In general the French public, or the French “republican communautarianism,” hardly considered the Arabs from North Africa part of the community. Just as they don't want to see Turkey in the EU.

If we look at Europe in general, we see almost no EU nation that welcomes Turkey with open arms; however, what makes France (and Austria) different is the fact that their politicians choose to adopt a populist stance to capitalize on the anti-Turkish feelings present among their publics. Community leaders there ignore pedagogical and informative works on Turkey. This fact results in them turning a blind eye to all the agreements signed between the EU and Turkey since 1963.

France was never too keen on the enlargement policy. Its tangible contribution to the process in recent times was to try to introduce together with Austria the “absorption capacity of new members” as a new criterion. The matter was put on the agenda by a researcher by the name of Sylvie Goulard, whose real expertise is on Germany. She is very close to former President Giscard d'Estaing and is as anti-Turkish as he is.

With the noticeable exception of President Chirac, French politicians have never actively supported the membership of Turkey. Quite to the contrary and under their instruction, French bureaucrats are said to have been waging a “guerrilla war” since Oct. 3, 2005 in Brussels. On the chapter on Education and Culture, and for others, we may face their constant delaying and cooling tactics.

This France doesn't see Turkey as a European partner. For it, “Turkey's contribution to the EU and the EU's contribution to Turkey” are not pertinent topics. Consequently, people with anti-Turkish sentiments dominate public opinion. For the last three years, the French public has learned about Turkey from the insulting writing of ultrafascist author Alexandre del Valle. French politicians such as Alain Lamassoure (“If Turkey enters, France will leave”), Françoise Grossetête (“The start of the negotiations is an insult to democracy”) and Philippe de Villiers (“No to Turkey”) made these statements, which included remarks that would never have been uttered for any other partner country.

Here we face a kind of France that tries to preserve its constantly deteriorating living standards but without working hard, and failing that, is closing itself to the world. At the end of the day, this France has no sympathy for Bulgaria, Romania or Poland, either, and not even for its next-door neighbor, let alone Turkey.


Global France:

This isolationist France faces a France that is shining because of companies that put others to shame, thanks to their global position. This France is constantly opening up to the world, and many French citizens are actually migrating overseas. The number of well-educated entrepreneurs who migrated increased by 47 percent between 1991 and 2002. Some 564,000 Frenchmen and women are working in other European countries, 85,600 of whom are in Britain. The number of French entrepreneurs in the United States is 88,500. Even in Turkey, there is a significant French population that works independently around the big French companies. There are some 3,400 resident French citizens in the records of the French Consulate in Istanbul, and this figure is increasing by 6 percent a year. Many French brands and companies are doing business in our country such as Carrefour, Danone, Axa, Renault, Groupama, Arcelor, Alcatel, BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole, Oréal, etc.

In Ottoman times, European princes learned about these lands from adventurous European tradesmen. Nowadays, it's again up to the French business community together with men and women of culture and the arts to become the bridge between the two countries and open the eyes of French politicians.

Today there are two Frances that face each other. The France we know and esteem is the colorful, generous, sharing, self-confident one that unites all the differences within it to become even stronger, just like the French national team that left its mark on the World Cup this month. Let's hope it returns soon.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Cengiz Aktar

http://www.turkishdailynews.com.tr/editorial.php?ed=cengiz_aktar




This is a French Product


Boycott on way
Friday saw calls for a sweeping boycott of French goods in response to the passage of a controversial bill seeking the punishment of deniers of Armenian genocide claims, despite protests and pressure against the bill in both Turkey and Europe.



The Turkish Consumers' Rights Union on Friday called for a firm boycott until France withdraws the bill, which would make it a crime to deny Armenian genocide claims in France.

The first calls for a total boycott came from politicians this week. However there were also deputies who rejected the calls for strong economic sanctions, underlining the country's economic situation.

A similar move was seen in Turkey in 1998, when it emerged that Abdullah Ocalan, the now-imprisoned leader of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), was being sheltered in Italy.

Italian goods were boycotted and several street demonstrations took place where angry people burned that country's products.

During the boycott, state-owned Ziraat Bank declared that it would not grant loans for the purchase of tractors or other Italian farming equipment. Several Italian firms were disqualified from significant contracts that also did harm to the Turkish economy. The Turkish government also blacked out Italian TV stations, and Turk Telecom suspended all commercial ties with Italian companies.

The consumer group has urged the public to boycott a French company operating in Turkey to be nominated by them each week, with French petrol giant Total chosen by the organization as the first target.

Bulent Deniz, head of the group, in a written statement released on Friday, said that the boycott is meant to punish France and show Turkish resolve. He also urged the public to maintain their stance until the French deputies reconsider their mistake.

Stressing that it is a dangerous move to boycott a country's goods in a globalizing economic system, Deniz said that this is a last resort that has to be tried. He added that they will add another French company to the boycott drive each week.

Total has almost 500 gas stations throughout the country and earned $2.5 billion in revenue last year.

A similar call came from the Turkish Tradesmen and Artisans Confederation (TESK) on Friday, which said that all French goods should be removed from store shelves.

TESK, which represents many professional chambers and federations as well as individual artisans and tradesmen, called on its sub-federations, chambers and individuals to follow their call.

"The Turkish government, which rules over 70 million people, should pay the price of a small group of Armenians who are playing with the rest of the world through lies," said TESK head Dervis Gunday, accusing the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party government of failing to block the passage of the French bill.

He also criticized the Swedish Royal Academy's decision to award the Nobel Prize for Literature to Orhan Pamuk, a celebrated Turkish writer who earlier stood trial on charges of insulting Turkishness for saying, "1 million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds were killed in these lands."

"It's very interesting that a Turkish author who has advocated the so-called Armenian genocide claims won the Nobel Prize on the very same day the French bill was passed," added Gunday.

Turkish business groups also called for a boycott or similar economic sanctions, including barring French companies from participating in state tenders.

Small- and Medium-Sized Industrialist Exporters' Association of Turkey (MUSIAD) head Omer Bolat also said on Friday that any boycott should be firm.

"French companies should be excluded from tenders regarding the environment, transport, energy and defense sectors," said Bolat, whose proposal was welcomed by the Ankara Chamber of Commerce (ATO) and several other business groups.

Deputy returns Peugeot

In a move to protest the French decision, a deputy on Friday asked the Parliament Speaker's Office to replace his government car, a Peugeot.

Center-right Motherland Party (ANAVATAN) deputy group leader Suleyman Saribas said he was ashamed of having a French car and urged others to follow his move.

"If the state has no other car to allocate to me, I will use my own car," said the deputy.

He also said the Customs Union agreement between France and Turkey should be suspended.

He also joined in the boycott calls, adding that there should be a customs quota for French goods.

Arinc urges calm
Parliament Speaker Bulent Arinc, who on Thursday delivered a stern statement criticizing France, on Friday urged, "We should stay calm."

"We can't achieve anything by shouting, insults or burning flags," he stressed, while praising behavior that expresses the Turkish position in a cool-headed manner.

He expressed his appreciation of Hrant Dink, a Turkish journalist of Armenian origin who on Thursday said he would go to Paris to violate the bill if it becomes law, and to Mesrob Mutafyan, the Turkish Armenian patriarch who also scolded France for its move.

He also proposed the release of a common manifesto by academics, led by the head of the Board of Higher Education (YOK), on the matter.

He also said that France, with this move, has betrayed its own values and long-established principles.

In another written statement, the Confederation of Turkish Employers' Labor Unions (TISK), said that they will of course show their reaction, but will also consider the economic interests of the country and the Turkish people.

The New Anatolian / Ankara
14 October 2006




Letters to the editor

French should clean their house first:
Perhaps the French deputies could tear themselves away from the Turkish-Armenian civil war questions, which have as many answers as there were casualties. They could then go on to answer what was the role of France, its officials, and people in the deportation of populations to death camps. And what became of the property seized by the Nazis, and later taken over by the French. The role the church played in protecting war criminals, and in abetting their crimes. There are records on this. The role French weapons play in today's African diamond conflicts in the former colonies. Let France begin to clean its own house first, and lead others by example.
Lawrence Esteban

Get rid of Article 301:
In its uproar over France's intention to criminalize denying the Armenian genocide, Turkey looks absurd. In France it would be a crime to deny, in Turkey it currently is a crime to affirm the Armenian genocide. In Turkey it is a real or potential crime for Orhan Pamuk, Elif Şafak, Hrant Dink and others to affirm that there was such a thing. If Turkey does not want to be seen as talking out of both sides of its mouth, the only thing to do is to immediately eliminate Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), under which such prosecutions are taking place. You cannot compel thought or belief by passing a law. If you want to change a person's mind, you do it through facts and reasoned argument. You do it through the exercise of free speech. What is right will eventually be seen clearly.
Alvin Westerlake, London

We have to work hard:
I'm a Turkish student in the United States. I really liked your comments on the bill in France. I really think moderation is extremely important. Turkey needs to express its disapproval of the law at the highest level, but without harsh words, and certainly without unreasonable aggression. But there are two other things that need to be done, and they need to be done very quickly. First, we must get rid of the laws that make it a crime to insult Turkishness, and stop prosecuting our best thinkers and writers. Then we will be able to say, "See, while we try to improve our laws, and improve the freedom of speech, you [France] are going the other way." Before we have done this, I'm afraid we cannot really complain about what France has done. Second, Turkey must assemble historians (Turkish, foreign, and if possible Armenian) and have them go through the historical documents and prepare a report on the events that took place in and before 1915. The results of this report will be inevitably controversial, but it will be the closest we have been to the truth, and it must be accepted by the Turkish government. The sooner we get this, the sooner all speculation will end. I have done some research on the subject myself, and I have no doubt that the report will bring a lot of credibility to the Turkish stance on the matter. We need a lot more moderate and wise people in Turkey, because the future could be very good for this country. I dare to say, I am hopeful. I see good signs.
Taner Akgün, USA

Duty of historians:
If other European countries take a similar stance as the French parliament, whether or not Turkey is disgruntled, Europe will become something we haven't yet seen. A continental Orwellian monster. I guess it will not happen. But the risk is obvious. Turkey, however, can act without Armenia. The archives are there. The Armenian standpoint is there. International sources are available. Now historians are needed to 1)-- document, translate and publish all relevant material of the archives; 2)-- formulate a synthesis of all available material from Turkish and other sources; and 3)-- draw a conclusive picture. This can be done by Turkish historians alone, or with some international participation. What is necessary is in first line documentation of the sources due to international standards; and the participation of historians, and perhaps some other experts, who are reasonably well known for their professional standards and not selected due to political leanings (especially concerning the issue in question). Such a professional handling of the issue seems far more promising to me than whatever political deal with Armenia. In fact, the astonishing thing for me is that this hasn't been done as yet, and not even announced. There might be a problem with the Turkish Historical Society or elsewhere in the bureaucratic systems.
H.P. Brady, Amsterdam

Pakistani solidarity:
Salaam to the Great nation of Turkey and its people from a Pakistani. Sir, I am saddened to know about the farce vote adopted by the bigots of the French parliament yesterday regarding our respected friend Turkey. Christian Europe led by zealots like the French would never ever allow Turkey to become a part of the European Union, come what may, all European Christians harbor acrimony and animosity towards Islam to an extent which is beyond all imaginations. I wholly condemn the law adopted by the bigot French. Long live Turkey........Zinda abad!!
Zahid Hasan, Pakistan

What a coincidence:
Strange enough, the French parliament voted the bill criminalizing denial (of the alleged Armenian genocide) and an hour later it was announced that Orhan Pamuk has won the Nobel Prize for Literature. What a coincidence! While Turkish-French relations will never ever be the same, I deplore awarding Pamuk's remarks on the so-called genocide with a precious prize.
Tülay Hergünlü, Ankara

October 15, 2006
YUSUF KANLI
www.tdn.com.tr


The French National Assembly ignored calls from Turkey, the European Union and the French government and adopted a controversial bill to criminalize denial of an alleged genocide of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire, sending Turkish-French ties into crisis.The Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement that relations with France suffered a “heavy blow” and stated that with the approval of the bill, “France is unfortunately losing its privileged status with the Turkish people.”Parliament Speaker Bülent Arınç called the French move “shameful” and added that it reflected a “hostile attitude against the Turkish nation.”The French government reiterated that it did not support the bill, noting that it valued ties with Turkey. The European Union was critical, saying the bill would damage Turkish-Armenian dialogue.Entry into force of the bill is expected to be a lengthy process, as it should first go to the Senate for another vote and will have to be signed by the president before it becomes law. Observers say the French government may take its time in bringing it to the Senate floor and if there are any changes to the bill when the Senate votes on it, it must be put to another vote in the National Assembly, where the last day of business before the 2007 presidential and parliamentary elections is expected to be around the end of February 2007. But yesterday's vote is still seen in Turkey as a sign of French reluctance to deal with Turkey on set principles and to allow Turkey's bid to join the European Union to progress.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan yesterday slammed the adoption by the French parliament of a bill criminalizing any denial of the alleged Armenian genocide as a “black stain for freedom of expression, democracy and history” and said those pressing Turkey to improve freedom of expression themselves had taken a backward step in liberties. “They should first sort this out and then knock on our door. We have never experienced anything so shameful, and we'll never let it take place,” he said at an inauguration ceremony. Parliament will convene on Tuesday with a special agenda over the controversial bill. A joint declaration that condemns the decision made by French lawmakers is expected to be issued at the end of the session. In Berlin Ali Babacan, Turkey's chief negotiator for talks with the European Union, said the French decision would not have an adverse impact on the government's reform process, stressing that Turkey would become a role model for Europe with the political reforms it passes.


Alpogan says train crash occurred on Thursday
National Security Council (MGK) Secretary-General Yiğit Alpogan said the infamous train crash expected to hit Turkish-European Union ties later this year occurred on Thursday when French lawmakers adopted a controversial bill that criminalizes any denial of the alleged genocide of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.

“The train wreck we expected with the EU in November or December took place yesterday [Thursday],” Alpogan was quoted as saying by the Anatolia news agency at the last session of a meeting sponsored by the Eurasian Strategic Research Center (ASAM).

“Turkey is not responsible for this. The Parliament of France, one of the major countries of the EU, is responsible for this [train crash],” he added.

Alpogan said he believed early trouble in the Turkish-EU relations would be over Cyprus. Turkey is under EU pressure to open its ports and airports to traffic from Greek Cyprus under a customs union protocol extended to cover the 10 new members of the bloc including Greek Cyprus.

“A new era began in Turkey's EU process as of yesterday [on Thursday],” he added.

Likening Turkey's EU accession process to admitting a groom into a family, Alpogan said, "It is clear, however, that Turkey is not being accepted."

He stressed the French Parliament's decision fueled the already negative situation with regard to Turkish-EU ties. “Nothing can make us accept that the Turkish nation is a murderer.”

October 15, 2006
ANKARA – Turkish Daily News




Turkey's EU train hits early landmine in Paris
Turkey's European Union accession process, launched a year ago after three decades of promises, was always going to be a tortuous, bumpy ride.

But the lumbering locomotive hit an unexpected landmine in Paris this week that may blow it off track even before a much forecast "train crash" later this year over Cyprus.

The French National Assembly adopted a bill making it a crime punishable by prison and a fine to deny that Armenians suffered "genocide" at the hands of Ottoman Turks in 1915.

"Today's vote in French parliament is going to make our jobs more difficult," Turkey's chief EU negotiator Ali Babacan told the Brussels think-tank Friends of Europe.

It would be harder to push for greater freedom of expression in Turkey when free speech was being restricted in a founder member of the union regarded as a homeland of liberty, he said.

Turkish officials fear a nationalist backlash that could put the pro-European Ankara government on the defensive, set back reforms and make it politically impossible to make concessions demanded by the EU on trade with Cyprus.

The French move, widely seen as a play for Armenian diaspora votes in next year's presidential election, highlighted how easily Turkey's candidacy can become a hostage in domestic politics in EU member states.

European Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn had warned that adoption of the French bill, which still has to pass the upper house of parliament, would be counter-productive and could have serious consequences for EU-Turkish relations.

A senior EU official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the French vote could deepen "a vicious circle" of mutual recrimination and suspicion between Turks and Europeans.

"I hope we won't end up asking 'who lost Turkey?' when it's too late," the official said.

'Aggressive steps':
Turkish analysts were bracing for a possible derailment of their country's membership bid in December.

"France changed the course of the train and diverted it to Paris," veteran commentator Mehmet Ali Birand wrote in the Turkish Daily News.

"It appears we will now enter a period of aggressive steps. Turkish society will now perceive France in a bad light. Anti-Europeans in our midst will definitely exploit what's going on," he warned.

Brussels has threatened consequences for Turkey's accession negotiations if it does not open its ports to shipping from the divided east Mediterranean island by the end of this year.

Turkey, which does not recognize the Greek Cypriot administration in Nicosia, has refused to comply until the 25-nation bloc fulfils a 2004 pledge to end the economic isolation of the Turkish Cypriots by allowing direct trade with northern Cyprus.

The EU's Finnish presidency is trying to craft a mini-deal to overcome this obstacle by the time the union's leaders meet to review Turkey's progress in mid-December. But European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said on Wednesday the signals from Ankara "don't give us much hope".

The dispute has already poisoned the early phase of the entry negotiations, with the Greek Cypriots obstructing progress towards opening talks on new policy areas to raise pressure on the Turks, EU diplomats say.

Turkey completed the first of 35 so-called negotiating "chapters" in June, clinching agreement on science and research, but only after a lengthy wrangle with Greek Cyprus which the then the Greek Cypriot foreign minister described as a "warning shot".

EU and Turkish officials wrapped up the "screening" phase of the accession talks on Friday, comparing Turkish law with the 80,000 pages of European legislation.

They aim to open two more chapters -- on industry and the economy -- before the December summit, but the Greek Cypriots are holding that up, so it is unclear whether any negotiations will be under way as the Turkish train rumbles towards the next landmine.

October 15, 2006
Paul Taylor
BRUSSELS - Reuters




'France has Blackened Freedoms'
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has severely criticized France for adoption of a controversial bill on so-called Armenian genocide, saying that it had defamed the freedoms.

"France has blackened freedoms", PM Erdogan remarked during a speech he delivered on Friday at the opening of new terminal of Ankara Airport, in his first comments on the French bill following its adoption.

Erdogan censured France which has been trying to block Turkey's European Union (EU) membership under the pretense of Article 301 of its penal code, adding that "They should first rectify the backward step they have taken on freedom of expression and then come to us".

"The steps that need to be taken will be taken by the government on all political platforms at home and abroad", Erdogan stated.

PM Erdogan also advised Turkish citizens to consider boycotting French goods responsibly, asking "What are we going to earn or lose by boycotting goods?"

Mr. Erdogan went on to say that the trading volume between Turkey and France was around $ 10 billion and that, therefore, people should act calmly.

"There are over 500 thousand Turkish nationals living in France", Erdogan noted, "Those Turkish citizens must be strong and effective as Armenians over there".

By Cihan News Agency
October 14, 2006
zaman.com




Ankara Continues to Criticize Genocide Bill
Turkey continues to express outrage over the approval of a bill making it a crime to deny the so-called Armenian genocide in the French National Assembly.

Regarding the decision as “a black stain on French history,” Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said that there were unfortunately people whose minds are tied in comprehending the fight for freedom, especially some politicians in France.

At his speech for the dedication of Turgut Ozal Boulevard, Erdogan commented on a placard that said “France be Clever” and said France, which had criticized Turkey on Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, has now banned the freedom of expression in its own country.

The prime minister said that the value of trade relations between France and Turkey amounted to $10 billion, which is only 1.5 percent of France’s exports.

Erdogan encouraged the 500,000 Turkish citizens living in France to be as strong as the Armenians living there. Having paid an official visit to Berlin, EU Top Negotiator Ali Babacan said that Turkey had the potential with its recent political reforms to become a model for Europe.

ANAP Deputy Asks to Change his French Car
Motherland (Anavatan) Party deputy Suleyman Saribas has applied to the Turkish parliament, asking to swap his French Peugeot official car, which was assigned to him, for a different one.

Feeling ashamed of driving a French car, Saribas said French cars should not be used by the state government.

By Zaman, Ankara
October 14, 2006
zaman.com




French Historians, NGOs Condemn Armenian Bill
Historians and reporters in France reacted to the French parliament's approval of a bill that penalizes anyone who denies the so-called Armenian genocide, claimed to be committed at the end of the Ottoman Empire.

The Freedom for History Association (Liberté pour l'Histoire) issued a declaration on Friday to protest the controversial Armenian bill, labeling the bill as a "genuine provocation."

French historians condemned the bill, which was approved by the French National Assembly on Thursday, saying that it represented a step back from democratic freedoms.

The historians called on French President Jacques Chirac to reject the bill, if it is passed by the French Senate.

Meanwhile, Reporters without Borders in Paris issued a statement that they regretted the adoption of the bill.

By Cihan News Agency
October 14, 2006
zaman.com




Turkish Consumers Begin Boycott of French Goods
A bill penalizing those who deny the allegations that the Ottoman Empire conducted genocide against Armenians during the World War I was passed by the French parliament on Thursday.

The Turkish public described the pro-Armenian step as wrong and is preparing to react by boycotting French goods.

“Those wanting to use French goods will certainly reconsider,” Turkish State Minister Kursad Tuzmen said, adding they had warned France several times about the possible results of their step.

The Turkish Consumers Union decided to boycott one French trademarked product every week. The boycott will start with the oil giant Total and other French firms will be included in the list every passing week.

Turkish non-governmental organizations, such as the Association for Consumer Rights and the Association for the Protection of Environment and Consumer Rights, called their members to boycott French goods.

French TV channels and newspapers sent reporters to Turkey to see the true extent of the reactions.

The bill’s approval by the parliament caused concerns for those who had made reservations with tourism companies to spend their Ramadan holiday in Paris.

Tourism agencies keep receiving phone calls from people asking about any possible trouble if they traveled to France.

Those planning to buy French automobiles asked salesmen at car dealerships whether the prices would fall due to protests.

State Minister Tuzmen said he and top-level executives had warned the French government on the wrongness of the decision, but the bill passed anyway.

Emphasizing the decision would definitely have negative effects on commercial ties between Turkey and France, Tuzmen said: “We warned French authorities about the sensitivity of the Turkish people, they should have acted wisely. The approval of this bill may cause unwanted results.”

Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB) Chairman Rifat Hisarciklioglu pointed out Turkey’s imports from France was about $6 billon and said “If economic relationships are at a high level, then there will be no political problem. Trade will develop peace as well.”

Hisarciklioglu stated steps may be taken to stop imports from France but this may damage Turkey. Pointing out French companies have become local and created 65,000 jobs, the TOBB chairman said that those employees must not be hurt during the boycott.

Foreign Investors Association President Saban Erdikler warned consumers that companies established in Turkey with French capital must not be boycotted.

The French parliament’s decision also affected travel agencies’ tours to France for the Ramadan holiday.

Clup Irem Tur had to cancel two of the six planes for Paris-connected tours due to the boycott.

“Several clients will spend their holiday elsewhere,” the company owner Sadettin Ulubay said.

Meral Yokus, marketing director for More Travel, which filled its quota for its 180-people Paris tour, said they hoped the developments would not affect tourism negatively.

Some French brand marks in Turkey:

French companies are operating in several industries in Turkey, from food, fuel and cosmetics to marketing and medicine.

Some leading French companies operating in Turkey include: Total, Elf, Carrefour, Danone, Tefal, Michelin, Renault, Peugeot, Citroen, Lacoste, L’Oreal, Lancome, Christian Dior, Onduline, Lafarge, Chryso, Air France, BIC, Cartier, Sheaffer, Le coq sportif, Alcatel, Axa, Gunes Insurance, Basak Insurance, Basak Emeklilik, Societe General Bank, Turkish Economic Bank and Sanofi.

By Isa Sezen, Istanbul
October 14, 2006
zaman.com




Turkey Should Remain Calm
If the bill in France that makes it a crime to deny the so-called Armenian genocide passes in the Senate and is approved by the president, it will become an effective law.

Although it is probable that it won’t pass, the Senate and the president won’t approve it, the heart of the matter doesn’t change. In fact, perhaps the law’s waiting before the Senate, which is known to be comprised of intelligent men who aren’t worried about elections, and a president who doesn’t show much of a tendency to go beyond the demands of society, can spark further serious tensions. The probability of the law passing can become more important than the law itself. In this state it can be used more consciously as a vehicle for imposing action, and from Turkey’s perspective it will serve as Democles’ sword.

First, we shouldn’t make the mistake of asking France questions as long as the bill doesn’t become law.

The opposition Socialist Party is the architect of the bill and is responsible for it. It is as meaningless to criticize all French citizens for this bill as it is to leave all Turkish citizens under genocide suspicion.

There is benefit in discussing the probabilities of what is happening in France. It can be claimed that the bill is a tactic that will cause Turkey to break off from the EU negotiations process. Perhaps there are members of parliament from both the party in power and the opposition who would approve such an understanding. In fact, if the law leads to ending Turkey’s EU negotiations, there may be others who would be very happy about it.

However, the tactic to drive Turkey away from the table can only succeed if Turkey actually chooses to do this. In other words, this points to a process tied to Turkey, not France. Actually, this strengthens the hands of those in Turkey who, seeing it as their duty, defend abandoning developments on the EU road and support efforts for democratization. However, it is difficult to say that French representatives had planned this. If France wants to drive Turkey away from the European Union, it is already doing it with the Cyprus problem. Besides, France will have several more opportunities to push Turkey away during the negotiation process.

For the Votes of 400,000 Citizens
Another possibility that can be considered is barring the way of any improvements in Turkish-Armenian relations. It can be said that as long as Armenia’s isolation continues in the region and tensions with Russia are increased, France remains Armenia’s only hope for political breakthrough and France will protect Armenia because it is its only avenue for activity in the Caucasus. The biggest weakness of this possibility lies under the question of whom the tensions between these countries harm the most. Just as preventing Armenia from opening to the world will increase its political and economic weakness, it will bring the problem of taking on more responsibility before the Armenian Diaspora in France (it can’t be claimed that there are serious contributions to the root country). In addition, this kind of implementation that points to Armenia would nurture radical movements that are fed by enemy politics, which, in turn, support authoritarian structures. In this situation, those who don’t want to be authoritarian would be negatively affected, rather than authoritarians. This process would not benefit Armenian citizens and would prevent Turkey from taking any possible steps toward Armenia.

We can assume the kind of results the Armenian Diaspora’s expectations will yield. Armenians are continuing to organize in many regions of the world. We know that genocide claims form the basis of the Diaspora’s ethnic references and that it sometimes becomes more important than those of the citizens of the country they live in. While such a claim can sometimes have a positive effect on the status of the people and a negative one, it also gives them political power. It helps them to receive direct decisions and obtain the capacity to influence processes. The Diaspora largely uses the positions they have gained in the country to meet its expectations. The Armenian Diaspora in France mainly supports the Socialist Party. Situations like the Socialist Party being an opposition party, their loss to an ultra-nationalist party in the last elections, and not being sure about the vote potential of Segolene Royal, the female candidate they brought out to oppose Sarkozy who is in the party in power as the presidential elections approach, have led the party to increasingly lean toward more aggressive policies.

It’s is unknown if there are still people who are surprised at the socialist parties coming to the point of acting along the same lines as the ultra-nationalist parties. However, as a result it is obvious that the Socialist Party needs the votes of the estimated 400,000 Armenians living in France. In a similar way, the parties in power need every vote they can get, strengthening the nationalist game. Consequently, the administration doesn’t verbalize the meaninglessness of the bill; on the contrary, it is said that if this policy gains votes. If so, why should it fail? One of the reasons why certain parties want these votes could be to turn the raison d’etre of the Armenian Diaspora, which supports it, into law. Moreover, this effort is a matter of urgency for the Diaspora, because Turkey has opened a different door to approach the issue.

Turkey has announced that it is ready to “officially” open this issue for discussion on an international level outside of state players and has made progress to some extent. It is clear that the beginning of discussion of the issue on an international basis in the fields of science, politics or law will lead to the watering down of the claim that genocide was perpetrated and the posing of the proposition in many places throughout the world that maybe there was no genocide. In this situation, there can be a weakening of the raw material within the genocide claim from which it feeds.

For certain, the law related to the benefits of exploitation, which was passed previously and is still being discussed, and the law that counts the denial of genocide as a crime will continue to be debated in France. It is also evident that even if this type of law is a result of a political party presenting it to the parliament, these subjects are not that contrary to general perceptions in France. There is a broad, wide-spread and deep belief in France that there was an Armenian genocide. When the Socialist Party puts this on the agenda, there’s no great uproar. As communication increases among societies, it’s possible for fixed opinions to change. There are lessons here for Turkey. Instead of producing policies based on pushing possibilities for communication among societies and drawing closer through cooperation, looking for counterattack policies that encourage introversion hasn’t provided Turkey with any permanent benefits to date. If Turkey is a country that trusts its theses, documents, philosophy and, most importantly, its system, it shouldn’t rush to take harsh actions that can be seen as expressions of helplessness.

10.14.2006 - ISTANBUL
by Professor Beril Dedeoglu
Galatasaray University Faculty Member


What Illegal Armenian Workers Remind us
Wishing to protect the “genocide” lie with a law, France keeps insisting on its hostile attitude. The bill was passed in the French parliament yesterday. The next step is the Senate, and Turkey is now discussing what should be done about the bill.

One of the suggestions put forward is to deport illegal Armenian citizens, estimated to be 40,000-70,000, who are working in Turkey. This issue, that had not been discussed very much previously, flared up after the French parliament began discussing a bill to penalize those who deny the events of 1915 as genocide.

It is hard to understand why the illegal immigration issue had been disregarded until now, despite a systematic campaign to portray Turks as perpetrators of the so-called Armenian genocide and France trying to distort history through political means. Now we are rightly asking why this issue of illegal employment has been overlooked when it is extremely difficult for our citizens to find a job. However, there are also some who think these poor workers should not be disturbed.

The truth is that Turkey is facing serious illegal labor problems. The problem is not only limited to Armenians. Many people from neighboring countries come to Turkey and work in all kinds of businesses. Coming as tourists, workers from Eastern Europe, the Middle East and some Asian countries usually work in small and middle-size enterprises, particularly in construction, molding and casting, leather, textiles, plastic, agriculture, shipping, loading and unloading, cleaning, sales and the hotel industry.

Because they work illegally, they earn very low wages under difficult conditions and may be exploited. Apart from these workers, other illegal aliens are engaged in prostitution, smuggling and drugs.

Turkey began to import labor officially after 1960, but the country first confronted the inflow of illegal labor on a large scale after the disintegration of the USSR. Today, illegal immigration has reached huge dimensions. These people come to Turkey as tourists with a one-month or three-month visa but do not return to their respective countries. Some renew their visas and continue business as usual. Others enter Turkey illegally.

Nobody knows the exact number of illegal workers in Turkey but it is estimated to be one million. The most noteworthy report on this issue is the one prepared by the Turkish Labor and Social Security Ministry, entitled “Informal Employment and Employment of Illegal Foreign Workers.” The following lines attract attention in the 2004 report: “As no clear data could be obtained on the number of illegal foreign workers in our country, there is no official figure on the anticipated extent of illegal foreign employment in Turkey. Nonetheless, it is estimated that illegal foreign employment in Turkey has reached very serious dimensions, and the numbers are clearly in the hundreds of thousands.” This figure is estimated to be between 500,000 and one million, according to the Confederation of Turkish Trade Unions, the report said.

Even though the dimension and the damage caused by illegal foreign employment cannot be fully determined, ordinary citizens living or spending their holidays, particularly in Istanbul and tourist regions, can clearly see the scope and negative effects of illegal labor.

We all know that unemployment is one of Turkey’s biggest problems today. With 2.2 million people currently out of work, our unemployment rate stands at 8.8 percent.

Illegal foreign workers employed for low salaries do not only increase the number of unemployed Turkish citizens but also decrease revenue for insurance premiums and taxes. Another dimension of the issue is the transfer of income. We think many foreigners registered as tourists bring foreign currency to the country but in fact it is just the opposite. Even if we calculate on the basis that every illegal worker transfers an average of $1,000 a year -- at least -- to his country, the total amount is around $1 billion.

Even Northern Cyprus fines Turks working illegally in the country and returns them to Turkey. Does Turkey, which should give priority to its own unemployed citizens, have the luxury of disregarding a million illegal foreign workers?

KADIR DIKBAS
10.14.2006- ISTANBUL
e-mail:k.dikbas@zaman.com.tr




Turkey should take France's latest bill on Armenian genocide claim to European court
Oct. 12 was a day for rejoicing, a day of national pride at the Nobel Prize for Literature being awarded to Orhan Pamuk, the first Turk to receive that honor, to which I add my own congratulations. In Pamuk's own words, he accepted the prize on behalf of Turkish literature, the Turkish Language and Turkish culture.

Unfortunately, Oct. 12 is also a day which French history will record as a day of infamy in the annals of history in a country that boasts democratic principles. With the passing of a bill stating that it is a crime, punishable by a prison sentence, to deny the claim that an Armenian genocide took place, French socialists have betrayed not only the principles of the French Constitution, which enshrines the freedom of expression and liberty of thought, but also discarded the Descartian foundations of France.

The French socialists made this move as a short-term fix, trying with their narrow-minded cheap vote-mongering during the run up to the approaching elections, to gain the sympathy and support of 170,000 Armenian-origin French voters, along with those of anti-Turkish sentiments vis-à-vis Turkey's entry into the European Union. In the long run, history will show this as a ridiculing of the established image of France as the defender of fundamental liberties.

French socialist parliamentarians took a group decision to support this glaringly anti-constitutional and literally anti-human rights motion that will in effect serve to harm and hurt Armenian interests rather than appeasing the anti-Turkish emotions which the diaspora is trying to keep alive, at the cost of improvement in Turkey-Armenia relations. They do not seem to be aware, despite all the representations made to them by individual Turkish parliamentarians as well as nationally, of the damage they have incurred to their own image as historically the promoters of human liberties and freedoms, nor do they seem to be aware, or care, about the harm they are doing to Turkey-France relations which have a long history of friendship and alliance, going back to the days of Francis I and Süleyman the Magnificent.

As EU Commission President Barroso and EU Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn have already warned, this obnoxious move will greatly poison Turkey's EU negotiations, perhaps irreparably which may have been the original aim of introducing the motion, as we saw confirmed by several French socialist parliamentarians on Thursday on international television. For some time now it has been no secret that Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy is one of the leading opponents of Turkey's EU membership, and is exploiting the Armenian genocide claim as a pretext to block Turkey's EU negotiations by threatening to make recognition of genocide a condition for Turkey's membership, a condition not imposed under the Copenhagen or any other criteria on other EU members. It is now up to the EU Commission membership to be more vocal in criticizing the move and invite the French socialists back to reason from syllogism. If they do not, the Sarkozy move of trying to impose conditions on Turkey in a quid pro quo, will be seen as no less than a tactical political move on behalf of the EU. Erdoğan rejected outright the imposition on Turkey of those three conditions, firstly the removal of Article 301 from the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), which is a domestic problem, secondly the opening of the Armenian border between Turkey and the Armenian Republic, which is none of France's business, but a matter of ongoing negotiation between Turkey and the Armenian Republic, and thirdly to establish an independent commission to research genocide claims, which by excluding any historians will serve merely as a political tool and not serve historical truth.

The French socialists, led by Sarkozy, in initiating this double standards motion, accusing Turkey of not facing its past, while not themselves looking into French history and, for example, Algerian genocide claims about atrocities committed during the Algerian War of Independence, knew well that there were inviting a counter-reaction of reciprocal measures by Turkey.

While some of the threats expressed in the Turkish media during the past week, such as the closing of French schools in Turkey, have been over the top in intensity, in the heat of the moment, and as such regrettable, not serving the interests of Turkey and not representative of Turkish tolerance, the French movers of this bill must have known they would provoke a very strong reaction in Turkey. Turkey-France bilateral trade is said to be around 11 billion euros and will most likely suffer with boycotts and embargos. Turkey-France military procurement is estimated around 14 billion euros. France can not expect to participate in the international nuclear plant bid to be established in Turkey. This move will result in nothing but damage accruing to both sides, no one will win except those who are determined at all costs to try to exclude Turkey from the EU. Both sides, not only one, are shooting themselves in the foot. Two wrongs don't make a right.

It would be interesting to know how the French public think and react. Has any one considered the position of about 70,000 illegal Armenian workers in Turkey whose livelihood may be put in doubt thanks to the actions of the French socialists? For the past half century there have been an estimated 400,000 hard working citizens of Turkish origin living in France, a non militant social group who will be degraded by the nationalist consciousness stemming from the Sarkozy factor and maybe create a counter reaction. Let alone concern for their own future, what would be the financial reaction if these Turkish origin workers and residents of France start to withdraw their savings and close their bank accounts amounting to many billions of euros? As an irony of history French investments in Turkey, like Peugeot and Renault, may fall prey to the far reaching effects of Sarkozy's anti-Turkey initiative, with no more hope for French investments in Turkey, named by the World Bank as a "rising star in Europe."

In addition to EU officials warning the French socialists and Sarkozy that they were playing with fire that may burn personal and communal interests, creating havoc, two prominent Armenian-origin intellectuals as Turkish nationals protested vehemently that this motion will be a disservice to the ongoing behind the scenes dialogue and intended normalization process and cause damage that will be difficult to repair, harming Armenian interests and Armenian intellectuals such as Hrant Dink and Etyen Mahcupyan.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reacted strongly that "this motion does not correspond to the tenets of democracy." With the French government saying it did not support the motion, as a face saver to keep away from the ?scene of the crime,? its abstention in not voting against the bill resulted in its being passed by a minority vote of 106 for to 19 against out of a total of over 500. However, the bill will not become law until it has passed through the Senate and been signed by President Jacques Chirac, a lengthy process that may not be completed before the elections. Even if it does eventually become law it is practically inapplicable to enforceable. Within that time Turkey should take the issue to the European Court of Human Rights citing a breech of the Human Rights Declaration by France in making a denial of the genocide claim punishable by a prison term, and also seeking compensation for debasing Turkey's image internationally. It is also within Turkey's right to propose to the Armenian side that the matter should go to the International Court of Justice in The Hague for an advisory opinion on the claim of "genocide." There are precedents for a state initiating a court case at the European court, such as in 1968 when a group of European countries complained to the court that the Greek Junta colonels were responsible for suspension of democracy in Greece. The second case was against Turkey following the September 12 military coup, made by five European countries, for the same reason, suspension of democracy. Now, it would appear that Turkey has a case against the suspension of free expression against France, either before the bill becomes law, or after, within an estimated span of two years.

The opening of the genocide debate up to questioning will be in Turkey's interest, with the Armenians losing in the process whereby they were previously seen as the aggrieved party, changing places with Turkey now being the aggrieved, unlawfully treated party. When the dust has settled it will be seen that the Armenians have lost by this latest move, and Turkey should resort to presenting a legal case against France under Article 10 of the European Human Rights Convention, based on previous rulings of the court. That should, in my opinion, be its considered and proper response, rather than answering threat by counter threat.

October 15, 2006
YÜKSEL SÖYLEMEZ




French approval of Armenian bill still sparking reactions at home and abroad
Parliament is to convene for an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday to discuss possible steps towards France after its Parliament approved a bill criminalizing denial of an Armenian "genocide," Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul announced late Thursday.

"We warned France that if such a bill were passed by its Parliament, the loser would be France. Paris will always be embarrassed by this," Gul said, evaluating the passage of the bill which introduces prison terms up to one year and fines up to 45,000 euros to those who question the Armenian genocide claims.

Lashing out at the decision, Gul said, "France showed the world that it is a country which runs behind small policies. For the sake of interests in the upcoming elections, France has destroyed its historic prestige."

Gul also stressed that France will no longer be able to define or praise itself as the "country of freedoms where thoughts are expressed without limits."

Underlining that Ankara won't take the matter lightly, Gul said, "We won't take a stance like that of 2001. We consider this to be more serious than the French recognition of the genocide claims then. The process will be monitored closely."

Gul also expressed the hope that Turkish public will unite on the issue and France will come out of the deadlock it has created.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry's response to the French move was to say immediately on Thursday that ties with France "have been dealt a heavy blow."

PM: Great shame, black stain on freedom of expression

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at the passing of Armenian bill, labelling the French legislation a "great shame and black stain on freedom of expression."

"A historic mistake has been committed," Erdogan said in a written statement that also cautioned against overreaction.

"It is unacceptable for us to accept or show tolerance to the French move. Unfortunately, no one can control the consequences of the irresponsible behavior of French politicians," the Prime Ministry statement said.

The New Anatolian / Ankara
14 October 2006




Erdoğan: France has stained free speech
Parliament will convene on Tuesday with a special agenda over the 'genocide' bill adopted by the French parliament. A joint declaration condemning the French move is expected to be issued at the end of the session

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan yesterday lashed out at the adoption by the French Parliament of a controversial bill that makes it a crime to deny that Armenians were subjected to genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Empire, calling the legislation a “black stain for freedom of expression, democracy and history.”

“You try to give advice to Turkey with regard to Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) and you, on the other hand, block freedom of expression. It is not possible to understand or explain this,” Erdoğan said at a ceremony inaugurating Turgut Özal Blvd., which links Ankara to the newly refurbished Esenboğa Airport.

Facing increasing European Union pressure to amend or scrap articles in its penal code that restrict free speech, Turkey has complained of double standards, saying that France, one of the EU's major founding members, has blocked freedom of expression under the bill it legislated on Thursday.

Erdoğan, in his first remarks after the adoption of the bill in France's lower house, said those pressing Turkey to improve freedom of expression themselves had taken a backward step in liberties. “They should first sort this out and then knock on our door. We have never experienced something so shameful and we'll never let it take place,” he said.

Erdoğan called on the nation to be moderate in its response and said Turkey was studying retaliatory measures against France following the approval of the bill. “Turkey's foreign trade volume with France is $10 billion, and this is equal to 1.5 percent of France's entire foreign trade volume. We're going to make the proper calculations and then take the necessary steps,” he said.

Erdoğan did not elaborate but said the government would take measures within Turkey and abroad.

The French Parliament voted for the bill despite warnings from French firms that it would create repercussions for their business in Turkey, a fast-growing market that imported 4.7 billion euros worth of French goods in 2005.

Hundreds of French firms such as Renault and Carrefour have large investments in Turkey, employing thousands of Turkish workers. This week Turkish consumer groups and some trade unions called for boycotts of French products.

The Turkish Consumers Union called on its members to begin boycotting French products, starting yesterday with energy group Total. “The boycott will continue until the law on the so-called Armenian genocide is annulled,” the union's chairman, Bülent Deniz, said in a press release.

In initial reactions late on Thursday, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül also said Turkey would consider retaliatory measures against France. “Nobody should harbor the conviction that Turkey will take this lightly,” he said. “Parliament will meet on Tuesday with a special agenda and no doubt we have measures to take in every field.”

Gül will brief lawmakers about the process that led to the adoption of the “genocide” bill. Later the leaders of the political parties' parliamentary groups will take the floor. Opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal and Motherland Party (ANAVATAN) chairman Erkan Mumcu are expected to deliver speeches.

A joint declaration condemning the French Parliament is expected to be issued at the end of the session. Draft texts of the declaration have already been sent to political parties represented in the Turkish Parliament, news reports said.

“The leaders of political parties, no matter whether they have parliamentary groups, will each deliver speeches. We'll try to issue a parliamentary decision that criticizes the French Parliament and that clarifies the meaning of the decision made there,” Parliament Speaker Bülent Arınç said.

Parliament's EU Harmonization Commission called on France yesterday to reject or retract the bill. “Our commission condemns this unjust decision and hopes that France will give in to common sense and correct this mistake,” it said in a statement.

Babacan: No backtrack on reforms:

State Minister Ali Babacan, who is also Turkey's chief negotiator for EU talks, said what happened in France should not have an impact on Turkey's reform process. “We should never take mistakes as a model. We should not respond to mistakes with mistakes,” he said at a press conference in Berlin, the last stop of his tour of EU capitals after Madrid and Brussels.

Babacan said that the government passed reforms for the sake of its people, not just because the EU asked for them and vowed Ankara would keep up with political reforms. He admitted that the French move could have an adverse effect on Turks' outlook toward the EU but said: “Maybe Turkey will become a role model for Europe with the political reforms it passes.”

October 14, 2006
ANKARA – Turkish Daily News




PM fires broadside at France in bill row
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan yesterday slammed the adoption by the French parliament of a bill criminalizing any denial of the alleged Armenian genocide as a “black stain for freedom of expression, democracy and history” and said those pressing Turkey to improve freedom of expression themselves had taken a backward step in liberties.

“They should first sort this out and then knock on our door. We have never experienced anything so shameful, and we'll never let it take place,” he said at an inauguration ceremony.

Parliament will convene on Tuesday with a special agenda over the controversial bill. A joint declaration that condemns the decision made by French lawmakers is expected to be issued at the end of the session.

In Berlin Ali Babacan, Turkey's chief negotiator for talks with the European Union, said the French decision would not have an adverse impact on the government's reform process, stressing that Turkey would become a role model for Europe with the political reforms it passes.

October 14, 2006
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News



Contradictory 'Genocide' Defense from Dutch PM

The Turkey report adopted by the European Parliament, the removal of three Turkish candidates from the elections list in the Netherlands and the statements of French President Jacques Chirac in Armenia have brought the debate over the alleged Armenian genocide to the fore.

Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkanende made contradictory statements on the issue. Balkenende, who expressed his support for the Turkish proposal to form a joint commission of historians, also affirmed the expulsion of Turkish candidates from their parties simply because they refused to openly accept the Armenian allegations.


Prime Minister Balkenende, also president of the Christian Democrat Party (CDA), made statements on the expulsion of the three Turkish politicians from the election lists of their parties as a result of the Armenian lobby’s pressure. Balkenende, who first noted that the notion “genocide” should be used as it was defined under international legal documents, also said that the alleged Armenian genocide issue was a sensitive and important one. The Dutch prime minister supported Turkey’s proposal to appoint a joint commission of historians charged with investigating the 1915 incidents.

With regard to the Turkish candidates’ removal from their parties; however, Balkenende recalled the parliament’s 2004 advisory decision that urged the recognition of the alleged Armenian genocide. The prime minister, noting that all political parties had incorporated this decision into their statutes, asserted that the removal was justified under the respective parties’ rules and regulations.

Meanwhile, the Christian Democratic Party nominated the current CDA deputy Nihat Eski as candidate in the elections in lieu of expelled candidates Osman Elmaci and Ayhan Tonca.

By Basri Dogan, Amsterdam
October 02, 2006
zaman.com





Armenian bill pushed in French Parliament again
The French opposition Socialist Party (PS) late Thursday re-submitted to the French Parliament a bill aimed at criminalizing questioning the Armenian genocide claims, a move that is likely to renew tension between Ankara and Paris.

The bill, introducing prison terms of up to one year and fines of up to 45,000 euros for those who question the Armenian genocide claims, will now be redebated by the French Parliament on Oct 12.

The same Armenian bill was previously brought to French Parliament floor in May but due to time constraints, debates on it were postponed indefinitely.

Under the French parliamentary system, opposition parties have the right to bring a few bills to the Parliament floor annually for debate without applying for approval from the relevant commissions.

Although ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) deputies are known to oppose the Armenian bill, their turnout for the vote is expected to be low. This, in turn, may pave the way for the bill's approval. If the French Parliament approves Armenian bill, the approval of the Senate is also necessary for it to become law.

Parliament's Law Commission also rejected the controversial bill before the debates in Parliament in May.

The Parliament recognized the Armenian genocide claims with a decision taken in 2001, a move that created tension in the country's bilateral relations with Turkey.

Turkey's 3 objections to Armenian bill

While Ankara is highly concerned about the possible approval of the Armenian bill by the French Parliament, diplomatic sources outlined three main objections to it.

The first objection is that if the bill passes, it will undermine historical research and investigation that could be carried out by a joint commission of historians, both Armenian and Turkish, since such a decision would limit freedom of expression while publishing their findings.

Ankara proposed the establishment of a joint commission of historians to study the Armenian genocide claims to Yerevan. However, the Turkish move has yet to receive a positive response from the Armenian side.

The second objection listed by the sources is that the French move to pass the bill could add fuel to growing anti-Western sentiment in Turkey which, in turn, could hamper reconciliation efforts by Ankara to normalize relations with Armenia. Although the European Union is urging Ankara to establish diplomatic ties with Yerevan, such a move by an EU member state would endanger bilateral relations between Turkey and Armenia remaining at today's level, the sources warned.

As part of reconciliation efforts, Turkey began direct flights between Istanbul and Yerevan, and seasonally between Antalya and Yerevan, with a view to making it easier for Armenian nationals to travel. Armenian nationals are also welcome to visit Turkey without restrictions. They are accorded visas valid for 30 days on their arrival in Turkey. Over 40,000 Armenian nationals are estimated to reside in Turkey at any time, often overstaying their visas, seeking employment. However Turkey says that it won't open its borders to Armenia unless a solution is found to the status of the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The third objection listed by diplomatic sources is that the approval of the bill by the French Parliament could undermine Turkey's EU process. According to the sources, French approval would of the bill would be a setback for the Union itself, which is urging Ankara to implement reforms on freedom of expression. However, the bill is contrary to the Union's approach since it limits freedom of expression in a member country, a move that could slow the pace of reforms on the issue in Turkey and could be seen as an EU double standard.

The New Anatolian / Paris
30 September 2006





Admit genocide before joining EU, Chirac tells Turkey
YEREVAN - French President Jacques Chirac on Saturday urged Turkey to recognize World War I-era massacres of Armenians as genocide if it wants to join the European Union, speaking during a visit to the Armenian capital.

In comments that are likely to irritate Ankara and put a further strain on its relations with France, Chirac told a news conference Turkey needed to face up to its Ottoman past in response to a question on the nation's EU ambitions.

Asked if he thought Turkey should recognize the 1915-1917 massacres as genocide before it joins the EU, the French president replied: "Honestly, I believe so."

"All countries grow up acknowledging their dramas and their errors," said Chirac, who is on a two-day visit to Armenia, where he has paid homage to Yerevan's "genocide" memorial and attended the inauguration of a "France Square" in central Yerevan.

Until now, France had refused to make a direct link between the genocide issue and Turkey's EU membership bid. The bloc has not made it a condition of entry.

But a response to the same question by Chirac's Armenian counterpart Robert Kocharian was markedly softer, reflecting Armenia's desire to mend ties with its neighbor and improve its struggling economy.

"We don't see any danger in this process," Kocharian said of Turkey's EU aspirations, "but we would like that our interests would be discussed in the process too," he added.

Kocharian said it would be in Armenia's interests to have a neighbor "with a value system that allows for free movement and open borders."

France, which has 400,000 citizens of Armenian descent, officially recognized the events as genocide in 2001, putting a strain on its relations with fellow NATO member Turkey.

A proposal by France's socialists to make genocide denial a crime punishable by a year in prison and a 45,000-euro fine has elicited further ire in Turkey, but Chirac said he did not support the proposal.

"France has fully recognized the tragedy of the genocide and all the rest is more like polemics than legislative reality," he said of the proposal.

Armenia has campaigned for Turkey to recognize the WWI massacres, in which it says 1.5 million Armenians died, as genocide.

But Turkey argues that that 300,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks died in an internal conflict sparked by attempts by Armenians to win independence in eastern Anatolia.

Today's Armenia is in an unenviable geopolitical position.

Flanked to the south-west by historical foe Turkey, its eastern borders press up against Azerbaijan, with which Yerevan is still technically at war over the Nagorny Karabakh enclave.

As a result, its only access to the outside world is through Iran and Georgia.

But as relations between Russia and Georgia sour, exemplified by this week's Russian-spy row in Tbilisi, transporting Russian goods to Moscow's ally Armenia has become more difficult.

"Armenia is very interested in the normalization of Georgian-Russian relations because it directly effects our economy," Kocharian said.

Chirac, whose country makes up part of the so-called Minsk Group of mediators between Armenia and Azerbaijan, has tried to personally intervene in their conflict by meeting both presidents in Paris earlier this year.

A framework agreement on the resolution of the territorial dispute was widely hoped for during a Paris meeting between the two Caucasus presidents, however no visible progress was made.

Chirac defended the Minsk Group, which Azerbaijan has criticized, saying its experts "have done good work, of course in an infinitely complex situation."

The ethnic-Armenian enclave of Karabakh is within Azerbaijan's territory but Armenians currently control it as well as seven surrounding Azerbaijani regions.

Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced by the war, in which some 25,000 people died, ending in a shaky 1994 cease-fire.

09/30/2006
by Simon Ostrovsky and Mariam Haroutunian





Chirac Calls on Turkey to Acknowledge its Past

French President Jacques Chirac has called on Turkey to "recognize its past" in connection with so-called Armenian genocide, which Turkey was claimed to have committed during World War I.

Chirac and his Armenian counterpart Robert Kocharian held a joint press conference on Saturday in the Armenian capital of Yerevan following their meeting. The two leaders accused Turkey of not recognizing the so-called Armenian genocide.

When asked if Turkey had to recognize the ‘genocide’ to join the European Union, Chirac stated "Honestly, I believe it does. Each country grows by acknowledging its dramas and mistakes of the past".

Chirac contradicted previous statements he made that writing history was the job of historians, not of the laws, when arguing against the claims that France killed hundreds of thousands of Algerians between 1954 and 1962.

Hosting president Kocharian answered more softly and said that a neighbor that had open borders and allowed free movement would be to the interests of his country.

This recent move of Chirac is likely to strain relations between Turkey and France, which passed a bill in 2001 recognizing the mass killing of Armenians in 1915 under the Ottoman Empire as "genocide".

A drafted bill, which, if passed, would a maximum punishment of a year's imprisonment and a fine of €45,000 for those who deny the existence of the "Armenian genocide", will be discussed and voted on in the French parliament on Oct. 12.

On Wednesday, the European Parliament adopted a report critical on Turkey's accession to the European Union, dropping a clause that would have made recognition of the mass killing of Armenians in the Ottoman Turkey as genocide a pre-condition for Turkey's membership. However, the parliament called on Turkey to "acknowledge the Armenian genocide.”

Cihan News Agency
October 01, 2006


‘Genocide’ tension with France grows

Relations between Ankara and Paris suffered a serious blow on Saturday with the statement by French President Jacques Chirac declaring on a visit to Armenia that Turkey should recognize the massacre of Armenians during World War I as ?genocide? before its possible accession to the European Union.

Asked at a press conference if Turkey should recognize the 1915-1917 massacre at the hands of Ottoman Turks Armenians as genocide, he replied: "Honestly, I believe so."

"All countries grow up acknowledging their dramas and their errors," said Chirac, who is on a two-day visit to Armenia.

The development came amid intense efforts by Turkey to avoid the French National Assembly adopt a resolution recognizing the killings of Armenians in the first quarter of last century as a ?genocide.? The vote is scheduled for Oct. 12.

Yet diplomatic sources at the Turkish Foreign Ministry, speaking to the Turkish Daily News, underlined the importance Turkey attributes to bilateral relations with France and expressed concern that adoption of such a controversial bill would harm relations between the two peoples as well as French businessmen doing business in and with Turkey.

?Even if this bill is adopted, it is not possible for Turkey to accept such a theory,? the same sources said, while noting that Ankara has been contacting French officials at every level to prevent the bill's adoption.

Turkish officials drew attention to the fact that Armenia, with its aim of having genocide accusations against Turkey accepted by third-party countries, is trying to damage bilateral relations between Turkey and other countries to secure an advantage in the political arena.

?The Armenian lobby should abandon backstage games and should come up with concrete arguments supported by historical facts,? the diplomatic sources said, referring to Ankara's proposal last year to establish a joint committee of Turkish and Armenian experts to study allegations of an Armenian genocide in the final days of the Ottoman Empire.

Earlier this month, during talks with his French counterpart, Philippe Douste-Blazy, as part of a visit to France, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül suggested that France participate in such a body.

Gül said at the time that other countries, including France, could join the proposed committee of Turkish and Armenian academics to study the allegations.

While Ankara refrained Saturday from issuing a statement condemning the development, senior Turkish officials talking to the TDN said Chirac's remarks were ?totally unacceptable? and will likely have a serious impact on economic and political relations between Turkey and France.

On Saturday Chirac, accompanied by his wife Bernadette, attended a solemn ceremony at Armenia's monument to the 1915-1917 massacres of Armenians at the hands of Ottoman Turks. Chirac is on the first ever visit of a French president to the impoverished Caucasus nation, which is at odds with its Turkic neighbors Azerbaijan and Turkey.

Chirac placed flowers at the towering Tsitsernakaberd monument where he was greeted by an honor guard playing mournful music before being taken on a tour of the so-called "Genocide Museum." France, which has 400,000 citizens of Armenian descent, officially recognized the World War I-era events as ?genocide? in 2001, putting a strain on its relations with European Union aspirant and fellow NATO member Turkey.

Many countries, including the United States and Israel, have so far refused to label the massacres as genocide. Ankara argues that 300,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks died in an internal conflict sparked by attempts by Armenians to win independence for eastern Anatolia and secure assistance for their bid from Russia -- Turkey's age-old nemesis.

Armenia is also locked in a stalemate with Azerbaijan over the ethnic-Armenian enclave of Nagorno Karabakh, which it gained control of in an early 1990s war but which is still internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan.


October 1, 2006
ANKARA/YEREVAN - Turkish Daily News with AFP






Mehmet Y. Yilmaz: Anger is not enough in the face of this campaign
The fact that France's "denying the Armenian genocide is a crime" law has once again moved to the top of our agendas means that, in addition to everything else, that we have made no headway whatsoever in resolving this matter. It was never a secret that this bill, which was never formally debated in the last session of the French Parliament, would come up again. And so, we continue on from where we left off: warning the French of damage to our relations, warning the French they won't be able to bid for contracts here, warning the French that they won't be able to do business here. And of course, there are the inevitable questions, like: Will you throw our Prime Minister into prison too for denying the genocide while on a visit to Paris?

It's also clear that, since the last round, Turkey has done nothing within France itself to strengthen its hand. We have had no effective lobbying done there, nor have we pursued our natural allies, the French intellectuals, in hopes of boosting support.

We do not want to think about the fact that the "punishment" we will mete out to France, if the bill passes into law, will hurt us just as much as it will hurt France. We like to stay angry, but we don't see that this is just the first step of a wide-angled struggle against the "genocide denial" bill. What's more is that we will soon see that France is not the only example in this all. But still, there is no news of any sort of wide-ranging campaign in the works in Turkey against this campaign which aims at ruining our relations with many important countries in the world.




Deveciyan's hope is the Madame
The most heated defender of the Armenian genocide denial, Deveciyan said: "There is no risk of this bill not passing as the meeting will be governed by the cabinet's socialist vice-president, Mignon."

Patrick Deveciyan pointed out that the voting today on the Armenian genocide denial bill, should go well, by saying: "The meeting is managed by the cabinet's socialist vice-president. There is no risk of it not passing."
Sabah




Strong supporter of the Armenian bill says: "There is no risk this time."
A strong supporter of the legal draft considering the denial of the Armenian genocide to be a crime, Deveciyan, said that there is no risk this time for the bill which was prevented last time around. The meeting will be managed by the socialist vice president of the cabinet, Mignon.

If the prospective president candidate, Sarkozy, the Minister of Internal Affairs, supports the denial bill, despite opposition in his party; and if he offers conditions to the Prime Minister Erdoğan to withdraw the bill, the most significant reason for this would be Patrick Deveciyan. The famous advocate of Asala action, Patrick Deveciyan, whose grandfather was a high level bureaucrat in the Ottoman Empire is the most influential and active name connected to the bill.

Sabah




Marsaud says: "It is against fundamental law"
Regarding the legal draft voted on today regarding the denial of the Armenian genocide, which anticipates imprisonment and monetary penalty, the chairman of the parliament's law committee Marsaud said: "It is against the freedom of opinion and fundamental law."

France recognized the Armenian genocide four years ago. Today, the French parliament will vote on the legal draft deeming the "denial of the Armenian genocide as a crime" which was prepared by the socialist party. Regarding the legal draft which has caused debates for months, the chairman of the parliament's law committee Marsaud said: "It is against the freedom of opinion and fundamental law."

Sabah

Armenian Maneuver: Let Historians be Exempted

The Armenian Diaspora continues to take action in an effort to prevent opposition to the draft law pending at the French parliament that would penalize denial of the alleged Armenian genocide.

In an attempt to convince those who oppose the draft that it will restrict the academic freedoms of historians, Armenians proposed exempting researchers and historians from the scope of the draft law. .

To this end, a leading figure from the ruling People’s Majority Unity Party French Armenian, Patrick Devedjian, proposed an amendment to the draft. The single-sentenced proposal reads “These regulations do not apply to academic and scientific researches and studies.”

The Committee on Defending the Armenian Cause, an important player behind the draft bill, called on the parliamentarians to approve the draft for the sake of “the dignity of humanity,” and in a manner that goes beyond the routine discussions of historians.

The draft submitted by the opposition Socialist Party stipulates those who deny the alleged Armenian genocide be imprisoned up to five years and fined 45,000 euros.

In a statement annexed to the amendment proposal, Devedjian, in reference to Turkey, noted that the bill should prevent any provocations and political demonstrations organized by a foreign country. With the proposal, Devedjian seeks to prevent those conducting historical research from prosecution and punishment under the draft law.

This unexpected attempt by the Armenians, who have consistently criticized historians critical of the genocide allegations, seeks to prevent opposition from French historians.

Not long before, leading French historians had issued a declaration demanding the abolition of laws encompassing historical subjects, including the law that recognizes the alleged Armenian genocide.

The same historians are expected to issue another declaration in the days ahead. French President Jacques Chirac also stated his opposition to the draft.

The Armenian Diaspora, which now seeks exemption for historians, had previously ensured the conviction of the renowned historian Bernard Lewis simply because he did not fully reflect “the Armenian genocide” in an article. Likewise, following the application of Armenian associations, the Paris Court convicted Quid Encyclopedia on the grounds that it mentioned Turkey’s view with regard to the 1915 incidents.

By Ali Ihsan Aydin, Paris
October 09, 2006
zaman.com





French Parliament votes 106 to 19 in favor of banning "genocide denial"
The French Parliament voted today to accept the Socialist Party's bill proposing one year of prison time and monetary fines of up to 45 thousand Euro for people publicly denying the so-called Armenian genocide. The vote, which took place this morning in the General Assembly of the French Parliament, was 106 in favor of and 19 opposing the bill. According to procedure, the bill must now go to the French Senate for final approval.

Devejian's last minute proposal to exclude historians from punishment rejected

Prior to the final voting in the French Parliament, six different proposals for changes to the bill were presented to parliamentary members, including one by MP Patrik Devejian that called for historians, scientists, and academicians to be exempted from the fines and/or prison time under the new law. Though many observers thought beforehand that Devejian's proposal would be accepted, it was in fact rejected, meaning the bill was approved in its original state.

Political observers in France, in the wake of this controversial vote by the French Parliament, note that official government support for the "genocide denial" law is weak, and that as such, it may sit for a long time on the French Senate's agenda without being passed or put into implementation. If in fact the Senate does approve the bill, it will also need the signature of the president of France, whoever that may be at the time, before becoming an active law.

Prior to this latest round involving the Armenian claims of genocide, the French Parliament had in 2001 officially declared its own recognition of the so-called Armenian genocide. This step in itself had opened the way to considerable tension in relations between Turkey and France.

Speaking before the assembled members of the French Parliament this morning prior to the vote, various supporters of the "genocide denial" bill, from both the ruling and opposition parties, pointed to a protest held against an "Armenian genocide monument" in the city of Lyon this year by Turkish residents there as a reason for their support for this bill.

Devejian: Turkey is not in the position to teach us a lesson

Speaking for the ruling Union for Popular Action (UMP) Party, MP Patrik Devejian stood before the French Parliament this morning and criticized both the Turkish government and various representatives from the EU for voicing their opposition to the bill. Devejian, who asserted that in Turkey there was no freedom of expression, noted that due to article 301 in the Turkish Penal Code, writers and intellectuals were being imprisoned for mentioning the Armenian genocide. "Turkey has begun to export the politics of denial," said Devejian before the French Parliament, pointing to the Lyon protests against an Armenian genocide memorial there as being planned and organized by the Turkish government. "Turkey is not in a position to teach us a lesson about freedom of expression" said Devejian. The MP, who is himself ethnically Armenian, went on to say that the Parliament's aim was not to go down in history with today's vote, but to simply back up the 2001 vote by the French Parliament to officially recognize and accept the so-called Armenian genocide.




Liberty, equality.....freedom?
Today in France it will be revealed how faithful one of the EU's most important countries has remained to a principle that has remained at its basis since the 1789 French Revolution: freedom. The French Parliament is scheduled to vote today on a bill put forward by the Socialist Party which would mandate jailtime and heavy monetary fines for people publicly denying the Armenian genocide.

Turkish and French diplomatic observers both comment that the last minute removal or rejection of the controversial bill would be "a very big surprise." With elections coming soon to France, it is expected that many French MPs will come to the parliament to vote "yes" on the bill in hopes of garnering votes from the powerful Armenian lobby in France. Meanwhile however, representatives from the Turkish diplomatic, business, and civil society world are putting pressure on France to avoid voting in the so-called "genocide denial" bill.

Hurriyet




Oktay Eksi: Our weapon is freedom of expression
Has France really surprised us, or has it shown us that the "freedom-loving" France whose image we have carried for years in our minds is not the real thing, replaced instead by this fanatic, anti-freedom of expression, "one truth," despotic country we now face? It seems that we have seen the king naked for the first time. And because of this, we are surprised.

France doesn't see what an embarassment it is to tell people "If you say that the Armenian genocide didn't happen, you get 5 years in prison and up to 45 Euro in fines." What they are saying is, "even if you know another truth, you may not express it." What an embarassment this is to civilization.

Look, we are not even saying "There was no slaughter of Armenians." We do not believe that there was, but we are not going to get into this subject right now. We are right now just looking at this incident from the perspective of freedom of expression, and maintaining from this moment that this bill-if accepted, which it most likely will be-will not only be a great shame for France, but for the entire EU.

And while on the subject of the EU, I would like to draw your attention to words spoken this week by the EU's Commissioner in charge of Expansion, Olli Rehn: "If this French Parliament votes to accept this bill, I fear it will create a very non-constructive atmosphere." Why, I ask, does Olli Rehn, who arrived in Turkey two weeks ago demanding in no uncertain terms that Ankara remove article 301 from its penal code, water-down his words so blatantly when it comes to France? Couldn't he find it in himself somewhere to say "This bill is completely opposed to freedom of expression"? Or is the game played differently once a country is already inside the EU?

And by the way, where are the intellectuals who crow so often "Europe is a union of culture and values"? Where is former President Giscard d'Estaigne? Why aren't the columns in Le Monde dealing with this subject? France is showing that they are no longer of this age, but have returned to being the French of the age of Inquisition, the times when Galileo was forbade from saying that the Earth moved around the Sun.

Don't think that I am exaggerating. We are obliged to emerge successful from this fight, which began with the slander about the "Armenian genocide." This is because if we don't, the accusation will never be removed from our official records. And what this means-as I wrote yesterday in this space-is that we must direct our side of this fight very well. As Taha Akyol wrote yesterday in his column, what makes us strong in this fight is the "freedom of expression" weapon. But Turkey must be careful, before telling others about the shame of their infraction against freedom of expression, to clean up its own shames. Firsy and foremost in this realm comes our very own Turkish Penal Code, and its article 301, forbidding the "insulting of Turkishness."

In the end, as you can see, "freedom of expression" will be our salvation.




Yalcin Dogan: Should Turkey take France to court?
Among various scenarios being tossed around these days concerning the French Parliament's upcoming vote on the "Armenian genocide bill," there is one that has caught my interest. Here it is: Could Turkey take a case against France to the European Court of Human Rights?

France, which has played a central role through history in the protection of human rights, is now contradicting its own history. It is preparing to accept a bill which is in direct conflict with freedom of thought.

The French Parliament votes on the "Armenian genocide bill" in two days. Leaving aside issues like "freedom of thought" for a moment, this bill is so ridiculous as to even be anathema to the very basics of justice. Still, despite this, and despite the fact that the law proposed by the bill would run against the "equality" championed by the French Constitution, it looks likely that French parliamentarians will vote to approve this bill.

If the French Parliament does in fact vote to approve the bill, it will pass on to the Senate, where it will wait for two years before going into implementation.

Polish plumbers
Ankara is testing different ways of putting pressure on France. Barring any major surprises however, it looks like all preventative measures will come to naught. How can France accept a law like this one though? What sort of reasons lie behind hostility towards Turkey there?

More than hostility in fact, there is a fear of Turkey. When Poland entered the EU, France was reportedly mostly in fear of the Polish plumbers, fearful of the menace these plumbers presented towards French jobs. And now, with Turkish EU membership a possibility on the horizon, different bogeymen are being pulled out-one of these, the Armenian genocide allegations-to pull Turkey down in the public eye.

The weakest period
The debate of the "Armenian genocide" bill happens to coincide with a very weak period in terms of politics and economy in France. Also, in comes in advance of elections in May, 2007.

The French economy is not what it used to be. It is losing serious ground. President Chirac has lost much of his power that he used to hold in the presidency. And so, the French Republic, one of history's greatest states ever, has been stumbling for the past few years.

France has also not been able to deal with the problems presented by its 7-8% Muslim population. Each day seems to bring forward yet another problem connected with this section of citizenry. Interestingly, the French press is extremely careful on this subject now, and does not carry echoes of the problems on TV or in the papers.

And so, with an economy that is losing power, and the fear of Muslims creeping in at every corner, the spectre of a future competitor like Turkey within the EU is a natural enemy. What the Armenian genocide bill really is then is a reflection of France's own fears.

Economic threat
At this stage in the game, voices rising in chorus from Turkey are calling for economic sanctions against France if the bill is voted into law:

"Let's not let France bid in our contracts, let's limit our trade!"
But these are not reasonable solutions. These are not practical actions in a global world. Economic threats don't really even work in this age anymore. In the end, we ought to see that economic "punishments" would only hurt us too.

Which means we have to find a solution through politics.

Which is where I return to the beginning of this column. Turkey could bring France to the European Court of Human Rights if this bill is voted into law. Can countries bring other countries to this international court? Yes, and in fact, there are two examples from the past, one involving Greece and the other involving Turkey. Both were brought about by a group of European countries concerned about violations of democracy.
When all is said and done, Turkey is picking up a trump card here in terms of "behavior anathema to freedom of thought and expression." It doesn't have to bring France to the European Court of Human Rights, but it certainly has that option.

It may be time to use that option.

Hurriyet




Emin Colasan: Ankara takes "action" in advance of the French vote
Dear readers, a country which does not bow before others, which does not allow its honor to be violated, is also one which takes care of its own business.

We have been watching the Armenian disgrace in France for the past days, and by now, we don't even know what round we are in anymore. France is doing all this for its own domestic politics. First of all, there are many, many Armenian voters in that country. Secondly, France has always been against our membership in the EU-despite all the pleading our government in Ankara has done-and is trying to put a note of finality on this business.

Now, let's ask ourselves this question: What would a country that protected its own honor and respect do in a situation like the one Turkey finds itself in? Right off the bat, the government would spring to action. Diplomatic envoys would be put into service, to use their skills in putting pressure on France.

But what do we do? The Prime Minister met on Saturday with representatives from French companies doing business in Turkey and shook a big stick at them.

He said: "If your government does not pull back on this Armenian bill, our trade relations with you will go bad. There are 450 French businesses in Turkey. Rather than writing letters to your government, why don't you go altogether to France, and do some lobbying. Put pressure on the Paris administration."

And so you see what Ankara has done: they have exported this issue, one which they could not take care of themselves, to French companies!

* * *

But who are these companies? Let me give you a few examples: Renault, Alcatel, Carrefour, Danone, Peugeot, Citroen, Total, Elf, Nestle, Lafarge, Sodexho......these are all world giants.

A full 24% of Turkey's automotive sector alone lies in the hands of French companies. France is Turkey's fifth largest partner in foreign trade. The French companies active in Turkey provide work opportunities for 70 thousand people. So, let's say that the French Parliament goes ahead and votes to pass the Armenian bill; what will Prime Minister Erdogan do? Kick these companies out of Turkey?

Of course not, this would not be possible. He can neither kick them out nor bring any limitations on their business about. Because the ultimate damage from such actions would be felt not by the companies themselves, but by the Turks working for them.

Interestingly, we experienced this same event during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. When Austria decided to include Bosnia Herzegovina in its own land, there were giant protest meetings in Istanbul and throughout Anatolia. It was declared that there would be a boycott (!) of Austrian goods. At that time, the famous "fez" worn by males was produced in Austria. But in the end, nothing changed, and Bosnia-Herzegovina slipped from our hands!

So, knowing that we cannot kick out the French companies, what else can be done? Ah yes, Ankara is intoning that there will be contract bidding for a helicopter order Turkey is going to make.....and there is also the bidding for the nuclear reactor to be built! And so, warns Ankara, we will not allow French companies to bid in the high stakes for those contracts!

But please friends, let's not joke around.

Boycotts and such are not going to solve this business. It is when you gain respect for your country outside in the world that things like "Armenian genocide bills" cease to keep you from proceeding. Our current leaders have forgotten this. While there is no gravity or respect accorded to Turkey outside our borders, the leaders in Ankara are looking for savior in a few French companies doing business here.

It's like this: A man commits a crime, he's surrounded by police, and in desperate hopes of saving himself, he takes a small child hostage, and presses a knife threateningly against the child's throat. This is what Prime Minister Erdogan is doing. He says "My word is no longer effective, I have no gravity left outside Turkey. Hey, French firms, rescue me." What he forgets is that these same firms do business in both France and Armenia.

****

Let's imagine for a moment that France does not pass the bill. What would this mean? Would it mean that their stance on our membership in the EU, or on the whole Armenian genocide issue, had changed? No. And if they do pass the bill? Will French companies be scapegoated and kicked out of Turkey? Please don't make me laugh. As Turks, we watch the situation that the Turkish Republic has fallen into with amazement, horror, and embarassment. This is some sort of enormous spiritual torture that we are being exposed to. We have auctioned off everything we have to foreign firms. The US is now in charge of dealing with PKK terror, while Northern Iraq has been handed over to Barzani and Talabani. Meanwhile, our laws governing the insulting of Turks, Turkish Parliament and our republic are being guided by EU laws. And the economy is in the hands of the IMF and foreign capital. The latest in this auctioning off is to hand over the business of the Armenian genocide bill to be taken care of by French companies and their representatives!

And so we witness the painful ending to endless pleading, begging, and the destruction of our country's own respect: the passing off of national problems to foreign concerns in the hopes that they can act for us! I don't know whether we should laugh or cry.


Turkey Unites To Oppose French Plans For Armenian Law
DPA POLITICS Turkey Politics France Armenia NEWS FEATURE: Turkey unites to oppose French plans for Armenian law Ingo Bierschwale, dpa Istanbul On a visit to Ankara at the beginning of the year, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy highlighted the interest shown by French business in investing in Turkey, particularly in the huge project to construct a nuclear power station at Sinop on the Black Sea.

Now, instead of lucrative contracts, those same companies face a boycott of their products, and political relations between the two countries have plumbed a low not seen since that of five years ago.

Then France passed a law in which the murder of thousands of Armenians in the declining days of the Ottoman Empire was characterized as "genocide."

The reason for Turkish anger this time is that France may take a further step with a proposed law that would make it a criminal offence to deny the genocide that took place 90 years ago.

That anger is being expressed right across Turkish politics, by business leaders and by consumer associations, ahead of consideration of the bill by the French National Assembly on Thursday.

Ankara has made clear it will not stand idle. The Turkish government sees the French move as yet another attempt to sabotage talks about Turkish accession to the European Union that are in any case bogged down.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called in French business leaders over the weekend and demanded that these top representatives of French companies like Renault and Peugeot, Lafarge, Carrefour and Danone to use their influence at home.

The Foreign Ministry warned on Monday that if the draft law is accepted, this would be seen as a "hostile decision" that would have consequences for economic links between the two countries.

France could expect to be excluded from large-scale projects in Turkey. And calls for a boycott of French products and even for French visitors to apply for a visa were being raised.

Turkey is particularly outraged and embittered at what it sees as double standards in the European Union.

Turkey has to endure harsh criticism that there are limits there on freedom of expression, while precisely this is what is now being restricted in France.

With the proposed law France, which has "since the revolution of 1789 been in the vanguard of human rights," is now returning to "the Middle Ages," in the words of Rifat Hisarciklioglu, president of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey.

And even Turkish intellectuals, who have been brought before the courts in Turkey because of their opinions on the Armenian question, have come out against the French draft bill.

Hrant Dink, publisher of the Turkish-Armenian weekly newspaper Agos, said that if the proposal was passed, he would travel to France with the express purpose of "denying the genocide," even though he is convinced of the opposite and is in fact facing prosecution in Turkey for this reason.

The French initiative displayed the same "mentality" as that shown by those in Turkey who strongly reject the allegation that genocide took place, Dink said.

by: Ingo Bierschwale, dpa
Deutsche Presse-Agentur
October 10, 2006




French 'Genocide' Bill Threatens To Scupper Trade With Turkey
France risks losing an important economic partner in Turkey and being left out of major projects ranging from the defense sector to energy if it adopts a controversial bill on the World War I-era massacres of Armenians.

The French national assembly is scheduled to vote Thurday on the bill, which provides one year in prison and a 45,000-euro (57,000-dollar) fine for denying that Armenians were the victims of genocide between 1915 and 1917 under the Ottoman Empire, Turkey's predecessor.

If the bill passes through the assembly, it will have to be approved by the Senate and the President before it becomes law in what is largely expected to be a lenghty process.

Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul has already warned that French companies should expect to be barred from major tenders and several civic groups have threatend to boycott French goods if the bill is approved.

This would be a repetition of what happened in 2001, when France officialy recognised the Armenian massacress as genocide, but French businessmen here feel the repercussions of the new bill could be more severe.

"In 2001, Turkey went though a huge economic crisis and the boycott of French goods was forgotten. But I do not think it will be the same this time round," Raphael Esposito, director of the French-Turkish Chamber of Commerce, told AFP. "The wound will be deeper and will not heal as quickly."

Analysts say Turkey cannot cancel projects already awarded to French companies, but could easily bar them from future tenders.

One project France is interested in is the planned construction of the country's first nuclear power plant, which calls for an initial investment of four billion dollars (about 3.1 billion euros).

The government plans to build three nuclear power plants with a total capacity of about 5,000 megawatts, to be operational in 2012, in hopes of preventing a possible energy shortage and reducing dependence on foreign supplies, mainly from Russia and Iran.

Nuclear Power International (NPI), a subsidiary of Germany's Siemens and France's Framatome, had previously bid in a now-defunct tender to build a nuclear plant on Turkey's southern Mediterranean coast.

Another area that could be adversely affected by the French bill is the defence industry.

Eurocopter, the fruit of a Franco-German merger, is among four foreign companies to submit bids for the purchase of 52 general-purpose search-and-rescue helicopters for military and civilian use, a project said to be worth several million dollars.

French companies are also keen to participate in several transport and infrastructure projects in major Turkish cities, such as the extension of Istanbul's underground railway system.

Analysts, however, say Turkey could keep planned economic sanctions on a strict bilateral level and not move against multinational companies that may include France.

The French bill, if approved, is also likely to hit some 250 French firms already present in Turkey and active in sectors ranging from food and the automobile industry to banking and insurance, and providing employment for about 65,000 people.

"All this is very tiring," Esref Hamacioglu, the director in Turkey of Sodexho, a French food voucher company.

He said his firm lost about one million euros (1.25 million dollars) in 2001, during a two-week boycott triggered by France's recognition of the Armenian massacres as genocide.

Bilateral trade between the two countries totalled 8.2 billion euros (10 billion dolars) in 2005.

France also plays a leading role in foreign direct investment in Turkey with 2.1 billion dollars (1.6 billion euros) last year and 328 million dollars (260 million euros) in the first seven months of 2006.

by Hande Culpan
Agence France Presse -- English
October 11, 2006




Tomorrow And Friday (Murat Yetkin)
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s speech yesterday shows how the French bill to criminalize denial of the so-called Armenian genocide has angered Ankara. Even French politicians and other EU countries have come out against this bill by the French Socialist Party. This step is not acceptable at a time when the EU Commission (like democrats in Turkey) is pressing Turkey to lift limits on freedom of speech and not make insulting Turks a crime. This double standard is not only against Turkey, but also violates human rights, as it belittles the Holocaust by comparing the so-called Armenian genocide to the undeniable Nazi genocide against the Jewish people. Moreover, French Interior Minister and leading presidential hopeful Nicholas Sarkozy called Erdogan and tried to bargain with him to block the bill if Turkey changes its penal code and opens its borders with Armenia. This action was criticized as vicious. How will French intellectuals accept this hostile accusation coming from political aims? What kind of a standard will it bring to the EU?

As of Friday it will be one year since the screening process of the acquis communautaire with Turkey started. Turkey’s chief EU Negotiator Ali Babacan said yesterday that Turkey could reach the communautaire in a short period if there were only technical problems, but that political problems are a big obstacle for it. Babacan also stressed that the world has tried to prevent a clash of civilizations. ‘Recent developments like the cartoon crisis in Denmark and the French bill, however, encourage this clash,’ said Babacan. ‘Turkey is proof of the fact that secularism and democracy can work in a society where the majority is Muslim.’ Babacan also said that Turkey’s EU membership would be the best answer to intolerance.

12 October 2006
Turkish Press




French Bill On Turkish Genocide Would Block Eads From Big Copter Sale
PARIS (AFX) - EADS would see its chance to sell military helicopters worth hundreds of millions of euros to Turkey reduced to virtually nil if French legislators approve a bill making it a crime to deny that Turkey committed genocide against Armenians during World War I, a source close to the matter said.

Turkey, angry at the pending bill, has denied that the massacres were genocide. Shunning EADS would be seen as retaliation for the bill's passage.

EADS unit Eurocopter is one of four companies competing to supply Turkey with 52 military helicopters in a deal that is expected to be decided by the end of this year.

The bill is scheduled to be debated in Parliament on Thursday. It calls for a year in prison and a 45,000-eur fine for anyone who denies that the massacres of Armenians constituted genocide.

AFX International Focus
October 11, 2006




Disputes Over 'Armenian' Bill In France
The French National Assembly will vote today on a bill that stipulates that a denial of the Armenian Genocide can carry up to one year in jail and an additional fine up to 45,000 euros. The bill is coming to supplement the French law of 2001 recognizing the Genocide.

On the eve of the vote there was no unanimity even among the Socialist Party members who had submitted the bill.

Le Figaro writes that Patrick Devejian, MP of the ruling Union for a Popular Movement party (UMP), submitted an amendment proposal to "exempt the studies of historians and scientists on this issue from the scope of the bill."

The bill has infuriated Turkey. On Tuesday prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on France to recall its own colonial past. Ankara threatens to impose on France trade and political sanctions.

AZG Armenian Daily
12/10/2006





Recent developments show us how difficult it is to separate the economy from political developments. The tension with France may lead to a boycott of French products in Turkey. Turkish-French trade relations are now being discussed. There are longstanding trade ties between the two countries. French firms are making more investments in Turkey than those of any other country. Turkey is right in reacting against France taking these unjust steps. The reason behind this is France is using Turkey as domestic political fodder. The easiest way to win votes in the coming presidential elections in France is to adopt an anti-Turkey policy. The same thing happened in Germany. But after the elections, German Chancellor Angelika Merkel didn’t erect obstacles to Turkey’s EU membership bid. It is possible that the same will happen in France.

But an increase in anti-Turkey views could bring great damage. I’m sure French officials have calculated the costs to French firms in Turkey. They should be prepared for Turkish officials who reconsider bids on energy and military equipment. Boycotting French products could bring something in the short run, but could be damaging in the long run. Political efforts and lobbying would be more effective. Turkey is right in its claims, but it would get better results if it would counter this bill with lobbyists and political efforts.

12 October 2006
Turkish Press




It Doesn't Suit France (Fikret Bila)
France’s considering a bill which would make questioning the so-called Armenian genocide a crime is a development which might cause the most serious crisis in Turkish-French relations in history. Since France introduced the measure, officials from the Turkish Foreign Ministry have been holding meetings to evaluate the issue. Even the hall where the meeting is held is a message to France -- Galip Balkar Hall. Balkar was our ambassador to Belgrade slain in 1983 by the Armenian terrorist group ASALA. So the names of our ambassadors who were killed by Armenian terrorists remain on the halls at the Foreign Ministry. The Foreign Ministry sees this initiative in France as a serious violation of human rights. A country like France which claims to be a leader in the freedom of thought believes that thinking is a crime to be punished with prison terms and fines, and this situation doesn’t suit it. How would you explain it in the 21st century that a ‘genocide’ is created with a law and those who reject it are thrown into prison? Can historical realties be changed with a law? Can you write and erase history with a law? France can’t defend this law.

Is Ankara thinking of retaliating against this initiative of France? The Foreign Ministry thinks that retaliating by saying, ‘France carried out a genocide in Algeria and it’s a crime to deny it’ is out of the question. Turkey isn’t planning to make a mistake just because France is. Diplomats think it would be wrong to relate this shame of France with Algeria or Armenia. They think that it would be wrong for Turkey to bring this issue to a third country. Ankara thinks that another way of criticizing France is an economic boycott. The business community thinks that we should be selective in doing this and that only the products of French firms which export goods and services to Turkey should be boycotted. They think that companies which have made permanent investments in Turkey creating employment here should be excluded from the boycott. Of course, Ankara is also planning to remind Paris how tenders which concern France would be affected. France is interested in many investment contracts in Turkey, mostly in nuclear energy. If an act which can’t be explained under the law but can only be evaluated as a politically unfriendly stance is enacted, Turkish-French relations will suffer the most serious blow in history.

12 October 2006
Turkish Press

Azerbaijan Warns France
Tomorrow the French Parliament will discuss a draft according to which the negation of the Armenian Genocide is criminalized with a penalty of 45 thousand Euros and five years of imprisonment. In this connection the Azeri Milli Mejlis has sent a warning letter to the French Parliament.

The letter runs as follows, "The information about the discussions of the draft criminalizing the negation of the Armenian Genocide caused our great concern. We call on you to approach facts far from the reality with care. There is no doubt that in case of its adoption the law will contradict freedom of speech which is one of the most important issues in protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms. Besides, the law will call into question the impartiality of France as co-chair of the OSCE Minsk group which engages in the settlement of the Armenian-Azeri conflict over Nagorno Karabakh. This is why the Republic of Azerbaijan calls on France to be careful in discussing the issue". The letter was adopted by Milli Mejlis on October 10, day.az informs

12 October 2006
A1 Plus




European Socialists Raise Concerns Over French Move
EU Commission warns the controversial bill that makes it a crime to deny Armenians were subjected to ‘genocide’ at the hands of the Ottoman Empire will deal a blow to efforts for dialogue and reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia

Paavo Lipponen, head of the High-Level Advisory Group on Turkey of the Party of European Socialists (PES), yesterday raised concerns over the repercussions if a controversial bill that criminalizes any denial of the alleged genocide of Armenians is voted for in the French National Assembly.

“We're concerned about the consequences if the bill is adopted,” Lipponen, parliament speaker of the current holder of the EU term presidency Finland, told reporters here having wrapped up what he said a fact-finding trip in Turkey.

The PES delegation -- including Emine Bozkurt from the Dutch Labor Party -- had talks with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Parliament Speaker Bülent Arınç and Turkey's chief negotiator for EU talks Ali Babacan.

The French bill proposed by the Socialists calls for one year in prison and a hefty 45,000 euro fine for anyone who denies the so-called Armenian genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Empire in the last century. The bill will be voted on in the French National Assembly on Thursday.

Lipponen said he would contact the secretary-general of the French Socialist Party before the vote in France to express concerns over the controversial bill.

In apparent reference to attempts to lay down recognition by Ankara of the alleged genocide as a precondition for full membership in the EU, Lipponen said, “Recognition by Turkey of the so-called genocide cannot be a criterion or a condition for full membership.”

He said the issue should be resolved in the spirit of reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia, calling on Ankara to normalize its ties with neighboring Armenia.

Touching on a contentious article in Turkey's new penal code -- Article 301 -- under which scores of intellectuals have been put on trial, Lipponen said: “I cannot say there's readiness to scrap it but it's possible it will be changed. It seems clear there is an effort within the government and Parliament to reform the judiciary to have consistent practice.”

Facing increasing pressure from the EU to amend or scrap Article 301, Turkey has accused the bloc of applying double standards, saying that EU's founding member France itself is blocking free speech under the bill it plans to legislate.

“We're looking forward to see some positive actions [on Article 301]… Freedom of speech should be guided,” he added.

In comments on the decades-old Cyprus dispute, a major stumbling block before Ankara's accession process, Lipponen held out hope that all the sides involved would give a chance to a Finnish proposal to resolve the standoff.

The Finnish presidency is trying to craft a diplomatic deal to avert a potential “train crash” in Turkish-EU relations later this year. Turkey is under EU pressure to open up its ports to Greek Cypriot shipping. But Ankara refuses to do so unless sanctions imposed on the northern part of the island are eased.

“It's important that we can make progress built on confidence-building measures. There's interest now to make progress. Let's give chance to peace,” he said.

Lipponen said he sensed a positive atmosphere that the ports issue would be resolved via the confidence-building measures floated by Finland and then the actual Cyprus problem would be tackled by the United Nations.

He also dismissed privileged partnership option offer for Turkey instead of full membership, saying that the goal of negotiations with Ankara was full membership.

EU Commission warns against controversial bill:
The EU Commission warned yesterday that the adoption of the French bill would deal a blow to efforts for dialogue and reconciliation between the two neighboring countries, Turkey and Armenia.

Krisztina Nagy, the commission's spokeswoman, was responding to questions at a regular press conference over the French bill, citing recent remarks made by EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn.

Rehn had warned that the French Parliament could do serious harm to Turkish-EU relations if it voted to make it a crime to deny Armenians were subjected to a “genocide.”

“It's a bill now. Rehn believes that if the bill is voted for, it would harm efforts for dialogue and reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia and at the same time between Turkey and Armenian diaspora in France,” she was quoted as saying.

Nagy also said the bill would prevent the establishment of a joint commission of historians between Turkey and Armenia to study genocide allegations as proposed by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

12 October 2006
Bianet

Oran: 16 French historians will win if bill is passed
Prof. Oran, on the other hand, says that with the approval of the genocide law, the bill that has so far been "a sword of Democles" over Turkey will have been lifted and that with the pursuant debate that would hit France, the country would return to Voltair by going back to the future.

"Globalization had killed Voltaire" Oran said. "By passing this law the French could re-discover Voltair. Then there will be more to join the 16 French historians that see this as an intervention into their work".

Oran argued that the Armenians and this issue were being used to exclude Turkey from EU and said globalization not only effected the economy but was a blow on national identity too.

He said that while Turkey itself was entering a period where non-Muslims were being regarded as citizens as part of a new national identity, the changes in the "geography of identity" were not limited to this country and raised reaction in country's such as France and Holland where the European Constitution was being rejected.

"The fear of globalization has spread everywhere" he said.

Oran pointed out that there was a contrasting situation in Turkey which was parallel to these noting that those who said a genocide had taken place were put in prison under 'racist article 301".

"Just as the French are using the Armenians to restrict the Turks" he said, "we are using the Armenians and restricting the freedom of expression. The reason is the same. It is the fear of globalization."

Oran stressed that fears fanned each other and said "enemies of the EU in Turkey and the enemies of Turkey in the EU are suckling each other, lactating each other. If you do not know the concept of hot, you cannot know the concept of cold".

Asked whether the bill could still play a positive role in the freedom of expression if passed, Oran said that in the short term relations would "go very bad" but that what was more important was what would happen in the medium term. "In any case, we will be living through hell until the elections" he concluded.

12 October 2006
Bianet




Exploiting "Genocide" To Cut Turkey From Eu
Ankara University Political Sciences Faculty lecturer Prof. Dr. Baskin Oran has sarcastically said he is in favor of the passing of the "Bill to punish the denial of an Armenian Genocide" which is to be debated by the French Parliament on October 12, Thursday.

"With the passing of this law the French will come face to face with such a terrible debate that as a result they may re-discover Voltair. This will increase the support to 16 historians in France who see this bill as the intervention of politicians into the affairs of historians" Prof. Oran said.

French author and philosopher Francois-Marie Arouet de Voltaire's famous quote "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to death your right to say it" is an international reference for the freedom to express supporters.

Speaking on the same issue, economist Mustafa Sonmez has said that French President Chirac's visit to Armenia and this bill being brought to the French agenda had no other meaning but "to constitute a form of salute for the Armenian lobby" and does not believe there will be any positive implications of it being passed.

"It will have very negative effects" he said. "Turkey could enter a serious era of instability. Investment in Turkey could end up in difficulties due to cold money and one could even talk of evasion".

The purpose is to exclude Turkey
Evaluating the bill for bianet, Prof. Oran and economist Sonmez share the common view that the purpose is to exclude Turkey from the European Union even if they see different reasons to this.

Oran says the bill reflects French fears of globalization that are not limited only to Turkey while Sonmez believes that if the bill is passed, Turkey's overall relationship with the EU will be affected.

The reactions of Oran and Sonmez come in the midst of warnings issued in Turkey from parliament, government, business and civilian community circles against the "Genocide Bill" in the wake of debate of a Turkish retaliation that includes an embargo of French products and more specifically, rejecting new contracts to French companies that have in the last year realized $10b worth of trade with the Turkey.

Despite a recent attempt by the ruling Peoples Movement Union (UMP) leader Nicolas Sarkozy's advisor Patrick Deveciyan to amend the bill to exclude historians and academics from its scope, economic and political consequences of the law if passed are expected to be maximum.

Sonmez believes that it is very difficult for Turkey to accept the bill being passed and said "Turkey must initiate this boycott and take measures such as not accepting them into public tenders". He added, however, that although it was known months in advance that the bill would be brought to the agenda, Turkey's response had been delayed and insufficient.

Noting that the bill has consequences far beyond French-Turkish relations, Sonmez said "the draft may serve to tense Turkey's EU relations and to derail them".

"If the draft is passed, it will mean Turkey has come to a new position, that Turkey-EU relations have reached a new corner" he said.

Pointing out that the EU and the IMF were two of the most important things for Turkey, Sonmez said that if this bill was added to a relationship that was already not going the way it should, "it will severely affect the EU project, putting it in a bottleneck. The concern of the business community should be viewed this way".


Justice Commission sends 'Algerian genocide' bill to subcommission
Parliament's Justice Commission on Wednesday sent to a subcommission a proposal to recognize an "Algerian genocide" in retaliation for a French bill aimed at criminalizing the denial of Armenian genocide claims.

Parliament's Justice Commission met to discuss a retaliatory bill that would make it illegal to deny that France was responsible for a colonial-era "Algerian genocide." The bill would also designate an "Algerian genocide" day in remembrance of the killings of Algerians in the cities of Setif, Guelma and Kherrata on May 8, 1945. The commission sent the bill to a subcommission for a detailed report.

The French bill has sparked outrage against France and the European Union in Turkey, which is negotiating to join the EU.

Several groups were planning small protests against France on Wednesday, and there are calls for a boycott of French goods and the exclusion of France from participating in energy and defense tenders.

There was, however, little support for the Turkish proposal, and deputies agreed after three hours of talks to form a subcommission to discuss the issue further. The subcommission will also take up another proposal that would make it a crime to say that Turks committed genocide against the Armenians.

Few believed that the two proposals would ever make it to the floor for discussion. Deputies said that by forming a subcommission, politicians are buying more time and showing France that it is not up to parliaments to decide on cases of genocide.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has sharply criticized the French bill, spoke out against the Justice Commission's moves to retaliate. "You cannot clean dirt with dirt; you can only clean dirt with clean water," he said.

Many deputies also spoke out against the moves to create a new law.

"Let's not make the same mistake as France," said ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party Antalya Deputy Mehmet Dulger, head of Parliament's Foreign Relations Commission. "Let's not rewrite history through a parliamentary decision."

Deputies in France, which has some 400,000 citizens of Armenian origin, have introduced a draft bill to penalize the denial of Armenian genocide claims with fines and jail terms.

Armenians claim that as many as 1.5 million of their ancestors were killed between 1915 and 1923 in an organized campaign to force them out of eastern Turkey and have pushed for recognition around the world of the deaths as genocide.

Turkey acknowledges that large numbers of Armenians died, but says the overall figure is inflated and that the deaths occurred in civil unrest during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and don't constitute genocide.

Turkey is under intense EU pressure to remove an article from its penal code that has led to the criminal prosecution of Turks who have claimed that the killings amount to genocide.

Many in the country have accused Europeans and France in particular of applying double standards by pressing Turkey to remove the article while France is introducing its own bill.

Erdogan has called on the EU to weigh in on Turkey's side. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Namik Tan said Wednesday that Turkey hoped the French bill would be dropped.

"Such a bill should not even have come to minds in a country that has been the foundation for civilizations and freedom of thought," Tan said. "We hope this issue will be thrown out."

The New Anatolian with AP/ Ankara
12 October 2006




Is Algeria France's sole shame? What about Rwanda?

The tension created by Turkey's European Union accession process within the country and its consequences could be the subject of a dissertation in political science and sociology. The fact that all issues in the country are opened for debate in an inappropriate manner and linked with inappropriate subjects would be an inseparable part of that process. Aside from issues like the Kurdish problem, the so-called Armenian genocide, treating Alevis as minorities, and the so-called genocide against Pontus Greek and Assyrians are brought up. The list doesn't stop here. The aim is to exhaust all the debate topics and see how Turkey will be shaped at the end of the process. In a way, Turkey will negotiate with the EU with what remains of it after all the debate.

Turkey will be much criticized for some time because of the EU process. The diverging points, rather than common ones, will be emphasized more. That's the most important characteristic of the West, which Turkey aspires to become a part of. Otherwise, how can we explain the fact that the Armenian genocide claims were exaggerated so much in the Netherlands, where a traffic accident is usually given as the number one news story on TV?

France, a country where the standard Western mentality is predominant, was criticized because of the massacre and genocide it carried out in Algeria, while it's trying to punish people who deny the existence of an Armenian genocide. Some people may say that the massacre in Algeria took place following World War II. What about the things that happened in Rwanda? How and why were around one million people killed in three months in 1994? Let me explain how. Everybody in Rwanda was black and had the same religion but sowing the seeds of enmity was not hard for some people. Under the administration of Belgium, some people were declared Hutus and others were declared Tutsis, in a rather arbitrary manner. People were handed identity cards that revealed their ethnic identities. The common language, traditions, ethnic histories and cultures of Hutus and Tutsis were totally disregarded, and artificial differences were created along ethnic lines. In order to encourage discrimination, Belgian administrators used ethnic criteria in every administrative decisions, such as government posts and admitting patients to hospitals. Tutsis were claimed to be thinner and racially closer to white people, so that tall people with a more elegant appearance were classified as Tutsis. The amount of property was another criterion used in determining the ethnic group of the person: people who had more than 10 cattle were recorded as Tutsis.

The West brought Tutsis to power at certain times and Hutus in others in line with the circumstances in the country. The plane carrying Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana was hit by a French missile in April 1994 and the Hutus, supported by the French, started attacking both Tutsis and the Hutus that condemned such attacks, with clubs bought from China. In three months, around a million Rwandans were killed in a massacre, which was simply watched by the UN and the U.S., and was planned by Belgium and France.

The Rwanda example isn't binding only for France, but also all the Western world as it was the place where the West carried out its biggest hobby, dividing and separating, with the greatest death toll. Not only the French statesmen, but also the French people, who take to the streets at the drop of a hat, are guilty because of the Rwandan massacre. The massacre in Rwanda should be taught in schools not only in France, but all over the world, as an example of the Western method of dividing and separating a country. All the world countries should learn about France, which has yet to acknowledge its role or apologize, the U.S. and the UN, which only apologized for the death of one million people, so that a new massacre like the one in Rwanda won't take place.

Speaking on the anniversary of the massacre on April 7 last year, Rwandan President Paul Kagame claimed that the Western world didn't intervene in the genocide because of their racist policies and accused the French administration of allowing the French military to train and arm the Hutu units, which carried out the massacre. The picture was obvious. The first blow to Rwanda came from Germany, the first state that colonized Rwanda. The second blow came from Belgium. The final state was France, which is trying to conceal its own shames through leveling Armenian genocide claims. The result was the death of a million people, 12 years ago, at a time when satellites were roaming in space and technology turned the world into a large global village.

The creators of the picture are now proclaiming themselves champions of democracy, and are ignoring scholarship and history and doing politics to make denying the Armenian genocide a crime.

In the French Parliament, where the vote will take place today, the spirits of not only Algerians, but also of thousands of Rwandans are present and asking the deputies who will vote: What in the world have we done to you?

Sedat Bozkurt
sedatbozkurt@thenewanatolian.com
12 October 2006




FRANCE RISKS TURKISH WRATH WITH ARMENIA VOTE
France is believed to be home to the largest Armenian immigrant community in western Europe, with up to half a million people of Armenian descent living there.

They make up a powerful political lobby which cannot be overlooked just seven months ahead of a presidential election.

However, some Turks think French politicians have a much broader agenda and are using the bill to try to trip up Ankara's bid to join the European Union.

The majority of French people are opposed to Turkey joining the European Union and fears over its membership drive was given as one of the reasons why France voted last year to reject the European Union constitution.

Both President Chirac and Socialist presidential frontrunner Segolene Royal say Turkey must acknowledge the genocide before joining the EU, while conservative frontrunner Nicolas Sarkozy is opposed to its EU entry under any conditions.

The EU's enlargement commissioner, Olli Rehn, told Reuters this week that Thursday's vote could have major ramifications.

"Such a law would have counter-productive consequences because it would say to the Turks that there is nothing to discuss. Here you have the final truth and if you happen to deny it you end up in prison in an EU member state," he said.

Debate on the bill starts at 9.30 a.m. (8.30 a.m. British time) and a vote is expected by 12.00 p.m. (11 a.m. British time).

If it is passed, the bill will move to the Senate for debate and with elections due in 2007 there might not be enough parliamentary time to get it onto the statute books.

French businesses fear the damage will already be done.

"The jobs of French firms are at stake. I think that this is not the moment to put these sort of interests in jeopardy," Trade Minister Christine Lagarde told parliament on Wednesday.

12 October 2006
Reuters




CHORUS OF VOICES RISES TO CONDEMN FRENCH
With the French Parliament preparing to vote tomorrow on the controversial "Armenian genocide denial" bill, sources from Armenia are reporting that the bill has already lost the support of leading Armenians, from President Robert Kocharian to top ranked Armenian Orthodox Church members.

Kocharian reportedly told French President Jacques Chirac, during Chirac's visit to Yerevan last week, that "this law, if enacted, will ruin the small steps we have taken towards peace with Turkey, it will ruin our relations." Kocharian then reportedly asked Chirac to remove the debate on the bill from the French Parliament's agenda.



We experienced frustration and happiness at the same time.

Frankly speaking, on my personal emotional scale, happiness weighed heavier because a Turkish novelist winning the world's most prestigious literary prize is a great success.

Now we have a Nobel Prize-winning author, and for this we should thank Pamuk.

He himself stated at a press conference at Columbia University in New York, where he teaches, that “the prize is not to me but to Turkey.”

Really, think about what the Nobel Prize will bring Turkey from this point onward.

Those who are unfamiliar with Turkish literature will most definitely buy Pamuk's books and read them.

Hasn't it always been that way?

Have we not rushed to bookstores and bought books by authors whom we had not heard of before when they were awarded the Nobel Prize?

Pamuk's books being displayed in the front row in bookstore windows, being translated into more foreign languages, is a great gain for Turkey.

His Nobel is an honor both for Turkey and for the Turkish language and literature.

Regarding our frustration on the other half of the scale, I was in Paris just a day before the vote in the French parliament. I am not under the impression that the man on the street -- unlike some politicians who have set their eyes on the votes of 500,000 Armenians in the country -- was the least bit interested in the vote. I had the opportunity to talk to a few French senators who questioned the “idiotic” vote of the French parliament that limits freedom of expression.

These senators were Pierre Fauchon of the Union for French Democracy (UDF), the Union for a Popular Movement's (UMP) Robert Del Picchia – who has twice reported on Turkey for the senate -- and Jacques Blank of the UMP.

Fauchon, Del Picchia and Blank, the head of the Turkey-France Friendship Group in Parliament, were against the vote.

According to Fauchon, the French parliament's insensitivity towards human tragedies in recent history while at the same time judging events of the distant past that were not a part of its own history was an “idiotic” attitude.

Del Picchia said he hoped the Senate would block the decision.

If the Senate is no remedy, there is the option of taking the decision to the Constitutional Court with signatures collected from at least 60 senators.

There is also the possibility that both the previous “genocide” law adopted in 2001 and this recent bill can be canceled by the Constitutional Court.

At the end of the day, these bills are hanging over our heads like the sword of Damocles.

Ankara should be taking extremely careful steps from now on.

Apparently, France's decision will squeeze us further.

For this reason, I say for now we should enjoy Pamuk's success.

Fatih Sultan Mehmet on the streets of Paris:

It must be a strange trick of fate, but in the days when the French parliament was set to deal a heavy blow to Turkey, posters showing Fatih Sultan Mehmet and Giovanni Mocenigo, the ruler of Venice in the mid-15th century, facing each other were hung all over the streets of Paris.

The poster was for the “Venice and the East” exhibit at the Arab World Institute.

The portraits of Fatih Sultan Mehmet and Mocenigo were both made by the same artist, Giovanni Bellini.

The exhibition outlines how Venice was influenced by the East and particularly by the Ottomans.

Turkish rugs, porcelain from Iznik and many other items have been a source of inspiration for Venetian artists.

The exhibition shows just one other thing: how Western the Ottoman Empire was even at that time.

I strongly recommend to those who claim that Turkey is not Western to take a look at the exhibition in Paris.

October 14, 2006
GILA Benmayor




Diplomacy Newsline
Russia says French bill an electoral ploy:

The adoption in France of a bill making it a punishable offense to deny the alleged genocide of Armenians is an electoral ploy by the French socialists to garner votes from the Armenian diaspora in next year's presidential election, Russian media said on Friday.

"The law was tabled by the French socialists trying to obtain the support of half a million people of Armenian descent for next year's presidential election," wrote the Gazeta daily.

"In the 2007 election, the voters of Armenian descent will surely appreciate the Socialist's contribution towards hindering Turkish membership in the European Union by adopting this bill," commented the Kommersant daily.

The adoption of the draft law can "scupper Turkey's attempts to join the EU," said financial daily Vedomosti.

"One of the reasons for the French refusing to approve the European constitution when it was put to them in a referendum in 2005 was their fear of seeing Turkey become a member of the EU," noted Yuri Rubinski, director of the Center for Research on France at the Russian Academy of Science, quoted in Vedomosti.

"In 2007 there will be presidential and legislative elections in France, and it was impossible to ignore voters' opinions," he added.

October 14, 2006
MOSCOW - AFP with TDN




Nausea
There must be subjects that you also find nauseating and revolting. There is a so-called problem with which we are confronted continually, but this issue has no content at all. It is an empty shell. It is like a strange building that has no foundation but still goes up and up with the addition of new materials on it. It has no structure, let alone any beauty. It is an apparition consisting of nightmares made up for a purpose. The original lie has been boosted with many more lies. With repetition each lie has started to gain the intensity of truth. Small lies have turned into big lies. Those who believe these lies have come to hate those who do not, accusing them of denying the facts. Then those watching the developments from a distance started to support the party that is causing so much turmoil, making such a noise in its zeal to uphold this bundle of lies -- sometimes out of pity and sometimes to cover up their own lies. They have even attempted to ban debates on this subject because they think it would be too dangerous to have discussions on whether the allegation is a lie.

How will the story end? Psychoanalysis is difficult enough even when the subject is an individual. So how can you cure the pathology when it takes entire societies hostage?

As Jesus Christ was painfully climbing the path to Golgotha where he was to be crucified, carrying a heavy cross on his back, people gathering along the path shouted insults, spitting on him. According to the Bible, Christ, whispering, asked God to forgive these people because they did not know what they were doing. In more recent times, some of those embracing the religion of Christ came to commit some incredibly evil deeds “without knowing what they were doing.” The outcome of the vote in the French National Assembly shows that they still do not know what they are doing.

The majority of the French people believe -- just as the other European peoples do -- that Turks subjected the Armenians to genocide. They believe this to be a fact and they want us to “confess,” just as Jacques Chirac's France had done (whether sincerely or ostensibly) regarding the slave trade, the exploitation of colonies, the Algerian massacres and the Holocaust. In reality, contrary to common belief, France is not acknowledging the full dimensions of the crimes it committed in the past and it is not apologizing for them. In fact, it is merely bargaining with history.

As an official of the Vichy government, Maurice Papon was tried for sending 1,600 Jews to the Nazis' Drancy Camp and condemned not for taking part in genocide but for crimes against humanity. And he was 84 years old when the trial took place in 1998 though his crimes had been no secret all along. During the de Gaulle era he was made the police chief of Paris and he was the person who threw into Seine and drowned 200 (according to his own testimony “only” 80) Algerian youths for staging a peaceful demonstration in Paris in 1961. As if that were not enough, he was made finance minister by Giscard d'Estaing. Rene Bousquet, another French official who had contributed to the Holocaust at a higher level than Papon, was actually a friend of Francois Mitterrand who had been, like him, an official of the Vichy government. He committed suicide (?) when his deeds were revealed. Meanwhile, the Church for years hid a Nazi named Paul Touvier. Furthermore, France has passed a law that claims colonialism had in fact contributed to civilization and rejects the accusation that it had committed genocide in Algeria.

Racist Holocaust denier Jean-Marie Le Pen competed against Chirac in the second round of balloting in the latest election in France. Other parties that wanted to stem the rise of the racist movement have found themselves sliding towards the extreme right first in their rhetoric and then in their actions. The all-too-fragmented French party system and public opinion is sliding increasingly towards xenophobic and racist views. Opinion polls indicate that now two-thirds of the French people openly admit -- as if it were a merit -- that they are racist.

Due to their racist approach, the French have proven unable to integrate the Muslim diaspora in the country into French society. The Muslims, who live in ghettos and have a high unemployment rate (50 percent), whose only contact with the state is limited to their encounters with the police, rebelled last year. Almost all French people, the political elite and a great part of the media, placed the blame for those incidents on the Muslims.

Under the circumstances, those in Turkey who keep referring to the French Revolution and to the Enlightenment, still seeing France as the cradle of democracy and freedoms, are merely failing to keep up with developments. Similarly, it would be better if we left aside the fallacy that Turkey and France have been friends for centuries.

France is failing to make even the reforms needed on a day-to-day basis. It is getting old. With a pathological egotism it is shrinking inward. It is afraid of losing its position in the European Union and in the world.

Unable to come to terms with its past and its present situation, France needed a “target group” onto which it would project its hate, anxiety and worst fears. And it has found that target group in Turkey. In reality, Turks have been France's “other” throughout history.

This kind of France cannot bear to have us become an EU member. Let's have pity on France and let's abandon our bid for EU membership.

October 14, 2006
Gündüz Aktan




French Parliament deaf to advance warnings
Yesterday's newspapers in France were filled with warnings of the result of an approval vote in the Parliament for the so-called "genocide denial" bill. EU Commissioner for Expansion, Olli Rehn, had written a letter printed in the "Liberation" newspaper warning "don't kill off dialogue with Turkey."

In the end though, it appeared that the members of the French Parliament had blocked their ears to these warnings. Following the vote, which overwhelming approved the controversial bill, the EU Commission issued clear criticisms of France.

Speaking after the vote, spokesperson for the EU Commission on Expansion, Khristina Nagy, said "Unfortunately, this decision will make EU harmonizing reforms in Turkey more difficult. And if the approved bill goes into implementation, it will mean a deadend for Armenian-Turkish relations."

Olli Rehn: This bill puts millions of Turks into position of being suspect

In a letter to the "Liberation" newspaper, EU Commissioner Olli Rehn warned "This bill, with its historical opinion it is trying to impose, puts millions of Turks and their country into the position of being suspect."

European Parliament MP Duff: Dark day for freedom in France

Another voice condemning the French vote came from European Parliament member Andrew Duff, who said "The French Parliament has rejected freedom of thought and expression. It is a dark day in France for freedom." Duff added "How can France insist to Turkey that it develop its own freedoms and laws when it finds itself in the exact opposite situation?"

Le Figaro warns: Don't make mistake

And finally, yesterday's Le Figaro printed a warning yesterday to the members of the French Parliament not to "make a mistake." Calling the "genocide denial" bill an "opportunistic" initiative, Le Figaro urged MPs not to push France into a situation of absurdity with an approval vote.

Hürriyet




French Parliament's vote creates shock waves
In France, a cradle of democracy which helped make freedom a universal value, the French National Parliament yesterday voted to approve a bill mandating jail time and monetary fines for people publicly denying the so-called Armenian genocide.

Despite yesterday's overwhelming vote of approval however, the bill must pass through the French Senate and then be signed by the French president before being put into implementation. Also casting an ambigious shadow overt the parliament's vote yesterday was the fact that the French government repeated both before and after the vote that it did not support the bill in question.

Paris administration underscores its opposition to the bill

The French Foreign Ministry issued a statement following the vote saying that it "wanted very much" to continue dialogue between Paris and Ankara. Foreign Ministry spokeperson Jean Baptiste Mattei said "Just as we wish to carry on our strong friendship and our cooperative ties, we want to continue our dialogue with Turkey." Spokesperson Mattei also referred to the "genocide denial" bill approved yesterday as both "unnecessary" and "untimely" in his statements.

Another voice of opposition against the "genocide denial" bill came yesterday from European Affairs Minister Catherine Colonna, who stood to address the national assembly prior to its morning vote on the bill. Said Colonna, "We as the government are opposed to this bill. As it is, the parliament already voted to officially recognize the Armenian genocide in 2001. President Jacques Chirac mentioned the genocide clearly on his visit to the Armenian capital Yerevan. And looking at things politically, Turkey has already begun work on this subject, looking back at history, as have other countries. We must encourage this work. This is why we, as the government, oppose this bill."

Out of the entire French Parliament, which has 571 seats, a total of 125 MPs participated in yesterday's vote. Out of these 125 votes, 106 were in support of the bill, with 19 opposing.

Mesrob II: This will only butter the bread of radicals everywhere

Speaking in reaction to news that the French Parliament had passed the "genocide denial" bill, Patriarch Mesrob II, the leader of the Armenian Orthodox community in Turkey, issued this warning:

"The French, who have in the past put up serious blockades in front of Turkey during its quest for EU membership, have now dealt a serious blow to the already constrained dialogue between Turkey and Armenia. The law will only butter the bread of both radical Turks and radical Armenians."

Hürriyet




Ankara readies itself for response to French decision

Sources in Ankara are reporting that the Turkish response to the French Parliament's approval of the controversial "Armenian genocide denial" bill will be swift and strong.

Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul has announced that the Turkish Parliament will hold a special session on France on Tuesday, and that on the agenda will be a number of possibilities, including a freezing of all bilateral relations with France, putting all French firms wishing to bid on contracts in Turkey on a "red list," and even freezing for the time being relations between the Turkish Armed Forces and their French counterparts.

Terse statement from Prime Ministerial offices

The Prime Ministerial buildings in Ankara yesterday issued the following stern statement in the wake of news from Paris: "There are some narrow minded politicians in France who have caused their country to live with this shame, and who should think about what will come following this decision."

In Ankara, French Ambassador Paul Poudade said he thought French-Turkish relations would suffer for a few weeks, and then get back on track. In a statement to NTV news last night, Ambassador Poudade said he thought the comments issued from the Turkish Foreign Ministry were "a little painful, a little sad, but all in all, measured."

Hürriyet




Joint Turkish-Armenian exhibit faces forward
While diplomatic relations are on a knife's-edge due to the French Parliament passing a bill penalizing denial of the so-called Armenian genocide, Turkish and Armenian documentary photographers were in Istanbul yesterday to open a joint exhibit.

Ten photographers put together the exhibition called "Merhabarev/Yerevan-Istanbul," which depicts daily life in Yerevan and Istanbul. It opens on Oct. 22 and runs through Oct. 29.

The exhibit's title is a combination of the words "Merhaba" and "Barev" meaning "Hello" in Turkish and Armenian respectively.

The Turkish documentary photographers are Ozcan Yurdalan, Serra Akcan, Mehmet Kacmaz, Kerem Uzel and Tolga Sezgin, and those from Armenia are Ruben Mangasaryan, Karen Mirzoyan, Anahit Hayrapetyan, Nelli Sismanyan and German Avagyan.

Mainly highlighting the importance of direct dialogue and an unprejudiced approach, the photographers focused on the importance of greetings in all encounters by combining the two words.

The photographers also aimed at emphasizing the importance of the future and of looking towards the future even when catching daily life on film.

In the belief that relations between the two nations can become normal by overcoming problems stemming from a lack of dialogue and overcoming prejudices, the photographers aimed to reflect what they saw and experienced through their lenses.

After first opening in Yerevan's best-known cultural center the Moscow Cinema, it's on in Istanbul and will then go to Europe to France, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands.

The New Anatolian / Ankara
14 October 2006




The French ambassador is right
The bill punishing freedom of expression and social research passed this week by the French Parliament has sparked frustration and anger in Turkey, as expected. But is this situation permanent, or is it a passing phenomenon that will soon be yesterday's news?

In his first statement after the passage of the bill, French Ambassador to Turkey Paul Poudade argued that the anger is temporary. He also said that he will try to mend Turkish-French relations after a few tough weeks. Leaving diplomatic courtesy aside, what the statement emphasizes is the temporary nature of the anger.

We have a history that confirms these remarks, which emphasize the weakness of our social memory. When the first Armenian monument was unveiled in Marseille, then Turkish Ambassador to France Hasan Esat Isik, who was also later defense minister, immediately returned to Ankara on his own initiative. But the protest couldn't be sustained by the succeeding governments. France continued to be the home of Armenian gangs. Our diplomats were murdered by an Armenian terrorist group, the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA), until the terrorist group killed French citizens with a bomb that exploded at the Turkish Airlines (THY) office at Orly airport. However, French governments didn't lift a finger while dozens of Turkish diplomats were being killed. The French government banned ASALA's activities only following the Orly incident in which French citizens were killed. The group was replaced by the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which chose Turkish territory as the place for its activities.

Five years ago, when France passed a bill recognizing the so-called Armenian genocide, protests were again rife in Turkey. But in a confirmation of the French ambassador's remarks, such protests couldn't be sustained and the issue was forgotten. However, if the protests had been sustained as a state policy, the bill stipulating one year in prison and a 45,000 euro fine for denying an Armenian genocide wouldn't have been passed by the French Parliament. The best proof of the effectiveness of sustained protests was that against Italy for harboring PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan. The witness to that is Italy's current foreign minister and then prime minister.

The real disaster starts when the weakness of collective memory in Turkey coincides with the weakness of governments in foreign policy. This is the situation today. The incompetence of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party government brought along this irresponsible attitude and the insulting decision of the French Parliament. If the government continues such incompetence, the French Parliament's decision will be passed in the Senate as well and approved by the French president who visited Yerevan before this week's decision.

What's worse than the current situation is the possibility of new claims being added to the Armenian genocide claims. As a natural result of European countries voicing the Armenian claims, everybody expects the Pontic Greeks, Assyrians and Kurds, who are trying to make their voices heard through bloody terrorist activities, and even Muslim sects that are not Sunni, taking their turns to level similar genocide claims. Those who don't believe this possibility can take a look at the recent European Parliament Foreign Affairs Commission decisions.

Western civilization, which makes concepts like democracy, human rights, universal law, etc. meaningless, use them as the most dangerous weapons that will establish their dominance. Those who don't believe this can take a look at the would-be democracy in Iraq.

Governments can forget, as society does, but history never does. Verba volant, scripta manent.

Kemal Balci
kbalci@thenewanatolian.com
14 October 2006




Away from maddening voices
Let us rejoice for it is the time to be happy: In 10 years' time, all people will remember is that a Turkish writer got the Nobel Literature Prize, not his remarks to a Swiss newspaper and hopefully not Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK).

In the hectic week that was dominated by the French Parliament's lower chamber, the General Assembly's vote on a draft law that would penalize the denial of Armenian genocide, there were several positive voices: that of the Le Monde editorial on the question, the words of French European Minister Catherine Colonna, and the call of Perihan Magden to Turks after Pamuk got the Nobel: "A little more jubilation and a little less jealousy, please."

Penalizing the naysayer

Probably every argument that needs to be made against the French draft law that penalizes the denial of Armenian genocide has been made already, at least once. Turkish politicians, diplomats, businessmen, and most important of all intellectuals, have pled against the law. The most persuasive argument came from France's Le Monde newspaper, which called on the deputies right before the critical vote to reject it.

Politicians should not act as a "Ministry of Truth," said the article. Neither should freedom of expression mean taking history and the Armenian case as a political hostage. The work of memory should be done by Turkey, not the French Parliament, said the article.

The words of Catherine Colonna echoed the same sentiment and underlined the "memory work" that was started by Turkey. She also underlined the reaction of Turkish intellectuals against the law adding: "Are we better placed than they are, to judge?"

Neither of those voices, which underlined the need for Turkey to come to terms with its history free of external pressure, changed the fate of the French vote. Ankara was hardly surprised: despite the efforts made at all levels, Turkish diplomacy saw that the law would pass the General Assembly after six months' delay and concentrated on the next step: burying it in the Senate.

For some Turkish diplomats, the process was painfully reminiscent of the first law, when France recognized the Armenian "genocide" -- a law that Turks were assured as being "without effect." The law, which first surfaced in 1998, was buried in the Senate until 2001, but later became law. It raised its head every now and then, as a barometer of the activity of the Armenian lobby, the political climate and the weight of some groups which would be uneasy with the rapprochement of Turkey with the European Union. "Let France pass this law once and for all and let both countries deal with it," one senior diplomat told TNA. "Its reappearance is causing more harm than the law itself."

The Turkish Foreign Ministry statement, made hours after the key vote in French General Assembly, expressed the Turkish disappointment and dismay but carefully omitted any measure of retaliation. Rather, it drew on what it called "the French paradox," namely, leaving its own history to historians, but passing laws on the history of another country.

But "retaliation in all relevant areas" was evoked by Foreign Minister Gull at a press conference Thursday. "Let no one think that Turkey will forget this act and do nothing about it, just like three years ago. All relevant measures will be taken," he said.

Turkey doing nothing three years ago? Say that to the French companies who were in Turkey waiting for their contracts.

National pride or Nobel's shame

A European ambassador whose country had the Nobel four times were absolutely giddy with happiness when he heard that Orhan Pamuk won this year's Nobel Literature Prize. When he read Pamuk for the first time, he called home and said it needed to be translated into his language -- he would do it himself if no one did. In the cocktail salons of Ankara, Turkey-watchers were delighted at the success of the writer whom they have read in more than 20 other languages.

The delight, alas, was not shared in many other places. Many Turks felt that it was not Orhan Pamuk's mastery of words but his criticism of the Turkish government, particularly on the Armenian question expressed during an interview with a Swiss newspaper, that has won him the prize. Pamuk went on trial for telling a Swiss newspaper in February 2005 that Turkey was unwilling to deal with two of the most painful episodes in recent Turkish history: the massacre of Armenians during World War I, which Turkey insists was not a genocide, and recent guerrilla fighting in Turkey's overwhelmingly Kurdish southeast. Charges against him on denigrating Turkishness were dropped earlier this year.

"Is it not normal that Pamuk, a Turkish intellectual rather than a paperback writer, has opinions about the events in Turkey?" said Perihan Magden, the acid-tongue Turkish writer who threw her support behind Pamuk.

I shall not pretend that Pamuk is my favorite Turkish writer. I would not, however, doubt that he is a good writer and as Harold Pinter, last year's Nobel laureate said, deserves the Nobel. He is one that has marked his generation and possibly those to come. There is no error in the words of the Nobel committee that Pamuk explored the symbols of clash of civilizations -- should he not have done? Just read "Snow," "My Name Is Red," and also his earlier, less complicated "House of Silence."

Yes, there is a political element -- as there should be in most good literature. But again, history will remember Pamuk by his works, and hopefully, the infamous Article 301 will by then be long forgotten.

Nazlan Ertan
nazlanertan@thenewanatolian.com
14 October 2006




VOTE SENDS FRENCH TIES INTO CRISIS
The French National Assembly ignored calls from Turkey, the European Union and the French government and adopted a controversial bill to criminalize denial of an alleged genocide of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire, sending Turkish-French ties into crisis.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement that relations with France suffered a heavy blow and stated that with the approval of the bill, France is unfortunately losing its privileged status with the Turkish people.

Parliament Speaker Bülent Arınç called the French move shameful and added that it reflected a hostile attitude against the Turkish nation.

The French government reiterated that it did not support the bill, noting that it valued ties with Turkey. The European Union was critical, saying the bill would damage Turkish-Armenian dialogue.

Entry into force of the bill is expected to be a lengthy process, as it should first go to the Senate for another vote and will have to be signed by the president before it becomes law. Observers say the French government may take its time in bringing it to the Senate floor and if there are any changes to the bill when the Senate votes on it, it must be put to another vote in the National Assembly, where the last day of business before the 2007 presidential and parliamentary elections is expected to be around the end of February 2007.

But yesterday's vote is still seen in Turkey as a sign of French reluctance to deal with Turkey on set principles and to allow Turkey's bid to join the European Union to progress.

13 October 2006
Turkish Daily News




ARMENIAN BILL'S PASSAGE DEPENDS ON GOVERNMENT
Although the French parliament has approved a bill making it a crime to deny the mass killings of Armenians in Turkey during World War I, the Senate will also have to ratify it before the bill becomes law.

But for it to become an item on the agenda of the Senate, the bill must be approved by the government, which seems very unlikely as President Jacques Chirac does not look favorably on the bill.

If the present government refuses to endorse the bill, Francois Holland, secretary-general of the opposition Socialist Party, has vowed to make the bill a law in 2007 if they are in power.

Meanwhile, Armenians are pressing for the bill to make it to the Senate before the legislative period ends.

There are three ways a bill that has passed in the French parliament can appear on the agenda of the Senate.

The first is if the government approves and sends it to the Senate.

The second is if the Presidential Board of the Senate calls for a motion.

First Opportunity on Nov.8
The Socialist Party will make a request for the bill to be on the agenda of the Nov.8 meeting of the board.

But since the party in power occupies the majority of the chairs in the Senate Board, the government must also endorse the bill.

The third way to make a bill an agenda item is by demanding an emergency debate.

This demand can only be made by the Commission of Legal Affairs, which is at the receiving end of the bill.

Parallel to the majority arithmetic of the Senate, the government party has the final say in commissions, making it a difficult task for the bill to become an agenda item in the upcoming term.

Armenians Focus on Elections
Patrik Devedjian, an Armenian-origin deputy who spoke to Zaman, said that it was difficult for the bill to become law during the present legislative period and could be postponed until next year.

The French Assembly will finish its work early in February because of the presidential and general elections to be held in the spring.

Alexis Govdjian, president of the Council of Armenian Associations, noted that they would make attempts in the upcoming days to put the bill on the agenda of the Senate before the elections.

Referring to the genocide law passed in 2001, he promised to exert as much effort on this bill.

The bill needs to be endorsed by the Senate without any amendments.

If a motion for a change regarding the text is made, it will be sent back to the parliament.

The president, the final authority, can send the bill to the Constitutional Court or the parliament if necessary.

After the endorsement by the Senate, the president of the parliament, along with 60 senators apart from the president, can submit the bill to the Constitutional Court.

13 October 2006
Zaman




FOREIGN MINISTRY DELIVERS HARSH REACTION TO FRANCE
The Foreign Ministry has stated that relations between Turkey and France received a severe blow with the passing of the controversial genocide denial bill.

The statement made by the ministry remarked that, “The long-standing historical relations between Turkey and France, which have grown through the centuries with great care, have received a severe blow today because of the irresponsible attempts - based on groundless claims - of a group of French politicians who are unable to appreciate the consequences of the policies they follow.”

The statement continues: “Despite of all the diplomatic and parliamentary efforts carried out hand in hand at all levels for a long time by the Turkish Parliament, our citizens in France, our non-governmental organizations and business environments; after being submitted to the French National Assembly by the Socialist Party last May without any results, the passing of the bill this time on Oct.12, 2006 in the French National Assembly, envisaging severe punishment for denying the Armenian genocide, has caused a profound grievance.”

Sheer Disappointment
A statement released said that today’s Armenian genocide bill would have to go through a long process for it to become a law.

It must pass through the senate before final approval by the French president.

Nonetheless, with this first step taken by the French parliament, the Turkish government is disappointed. The statement also reassured the Turkish government of efforts by the French government to put a stop to any progress with the Armenian bill.

“This bill , a violation of both the French constitutional system that gives the utmost priority to freedom of expression and the European Treaty that specifies situations when freedom of expression and of thought can be restricted, goes against the values of liberty, brotherhood and equality, identified with the French nation, a source of inspiration for free world,” the statement read.

A Typical Contradiction
In the statement, it is said “It is a typical contradiction for a country’s parliament to say, by means of top authorities, that the parliament has no task of rewriting history, this responsibility belongs to historians when it is about its own history but assumes a right to judge other states’ history and to penalize.” In the statement it is also mentioned that discussing such a bill in France is an example of a double standard. The statement reads as follows:

“Despite important reforms we have realized in recent years in order to develop fundamental rights and freedoms and in a period when Turkey is advised to take additional steps on freedom of expression, the discussion on such topics as the bill in France is another double standard. A State’s credibility depends on protecting values that they lay down for others to follow.

This bill takes the freedom of thought and expression hostage in a way totally contrary to a democratic regime has sparked a deep outrage in the Turkish nation as well as in our Armenian citizens.

Seventy million Turkish people reject the restriction of freedom of thought and expression with reference to baseless allegations. Unfortunately, this bill makes France lose its privileged position by the Turkish people.”

13 October 2006
Zaman




ARINC CALLS FRENCH BILL 'AN EMBARRASSING DECISION'
Turkish parliament speaker Bulent Arinc commented on the French parliament’s backing of the bill that would penalize the denial of the so-called Armenian genocide: “This is an embarrassing decision. This is a hostile attitude toward Turkish society and it is impossible for us to accept this. We meet this [decision] with great sorrow. This is absolutely untrue. This kind of a situation has never been observed in the world so far. It is unfortunate to observe this kind of a decision in a country that is accepted as the cradle of democracy. This is against freedom of speech.”

Arinc organized a press conference in Ankara and replied to journalists’ questions. Arinc commented on the acceptance of the so-called Armenian genocide bill in the French parliament and said:

“We were expecting this kind of a result. This is a decision taken by a ‘third’ country about a past event between two countries. This is absolutely untrue. Furthermore, this is against freedom of speech. They will welcome the ones who accept this but will punish those who deny this. I accept this as a state of mind. Relations between France and Turkey have very old roots. France made great contributions to the transformation of Turkey. It is interesting that today France is able to create a strong reaction in Turkish society. We believe this bill will not pass in the [French] Senate. I believe there will be many intellectuals and famous people in France who will say there is no Armenian genocide. We are bothered and embarrassed that this decision was taken in France with concerns for interior politics. Even discussing this kind of issue in the French parliament is embarrassing for us.”

13 October 2006
Zaman




FRENCH GOVERNMENT TRIES TO EASE TENSION
The French government put the focus on ties between Turkey and France as it issued a statement downplaying the necessity of the Armenian genocide bill. A statement from the French Foreign Ministry expressed lack of support for the bill passed on Thursday in parliament.

The bill has to get approval from the French senate to become an actual law. This is the first step in a long series of legislative procedures. Consequently, the French government will be in better standing to deal with each detail of the bill, the statement said.

The French Foreign Ministry also expressed its support for efforts to maintain a dialogue between France and Turkey.

13 October 2006
Zaman




GENOCIDE CLAIMS JUST A PRETEXT (EMIN COLASAN)
During World War I, Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire revolted against the Ottoman state. The Ottomans were fighting with Russia, which seized Trabzon and Erzurum at that time. In this environment, the Armenians hit the Turkish military from the rear and managed to seize cities like Van and Bitlis. No state and military in the world could overlook such a betrayal. In 1915, the government decided on a forced emigration, and Armenians in the region were forced to go to Iraq, Syria and Jordan. There were deaths as all this happened, and many Turks as well as Armenians died. There were conflicts between the two parties as well as the Armenian betrayal, but there was never any genocide. If the state had had such an intention, then Armenians living in cities like Istanbul, Izmir and Adana would have been killed or at least expelled. Tales of the so-called Armenian genocide are one of the trump cards that the Western world uses against Turkey.

Now France is in the headlines, but 16 countries have recognized the so-called Armenian genocide. And what have we done to counter this? Nothing. Maybe we did some small initiatives on it, but that was all. The reason for this is that Turkey doesn’t have any weight except being a big market for other countries. As all this was happening, we were begging them not to exclude Turkey and doing everything they wanted. We even changed our law according to their requests. Watch, because the same thing will happen in the future.

Let’s say the French Parliament rejects this bill. Will we see this as a victory? Some will, but there will be more such obstacles as we beg. We endure all this for the sake of European Union membership. They already say clearly that the Turkish membership in the EU will be very difficult or even impossible. Every country is acting for its own interests whether we like it or not. What are we doing to fight this? We only give them more then we should. Would you act differently with such a country? They see us as just a market, that’s all.

13 October 2006
Turkish Press




UPSET BY FRANCE, ELATED BY ORHAN PAMUK (MURAT YETKIN )
The BBC World service yesterday reported the French Parliament's decision to adopt a bill making denying Armenian genocide claims a crime punishable with jail sentences as its top news story, referring to the decision as controversial. The second major story of the BBC World, reported on Turkey's Orhan Pamuk being awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize for literature. The BBC referred to Pamuk's Nobel as a strange coincidence relating its timing to the voting in France, recalling that Pamuk had in an interview stated that one million Armenians had been killed during World War I. According to the British news agency which still possesses the capacity of having a global outlook on world developments, these two events are more significant than tension between the United Nations and N. Korea because of nuclear ambitions of the latter, for that was the third top story featured by the agency.

Around the same hours when news that Orhan Pamuk had been awarded the Nobel were coming in, protestors had begun flocking to the French Embassy building on Paris Street in Ankara. Around the same time, the Turkish Foreign Ministry in a long and harsh statement with rare precedence, had expressed that the French Parliament's decision had dealt a serious blow to Turkish-French relations. The blow indeed was heavy, for the ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) had not blocked the bill sponsored by opposition Socialist Party from being voted in Parliament, although it had the power and the opportunity to do so. Now it is in the French government's hands to submit the law to the Senate or not. If the law is approved by UMP leader and French Interior Minister Nicholas Sarkozy and sent to the Senate, it will still have to go to President Jacques Chirac for approval.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry gave a reminder that all was not yet over as it vowed to continue efforts on every level to stop this initiative to which it referred to as a black page for France, the country that introduced free thought in the history of humankind. However, Sarkozy has set eyes on Chirac's seat in France's presidential elections scheduled for May 2007. It is a curiosity whether efforts of the Turkish government, the opposition and the business world would be enough to stop France, which has risked severing relations with Turkey, developed over the centuries, only for garnering the votes of 380,000 members of the electorate of Armenian decent, residing mostly in Marseilles and Lyon.

Let's go on with another question. Was it only competition over voters of Armenian descent that played a role in the French Parliament's decision yesterday? Or could it be that cultural discrimination which has increasingly built up in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks is making itself felt this way? Could the Muslim Turks be the new Jewish population that will be subject to discrimination and violence? Are the French trying to daunt Turkey by punching below-the-belt instead of generating sound objections to Turkish accession to the European Union?

If the law is enacted, is France not able to reckon that thousands of Turkish citizens -- including Turkey's Armenians such as Hrant Dink -- would just for the sake of getting a sentence declare that The Armenian genocide never occurred and turn themselves over to the police and prosecutors and form long lines before France's jailhouses? Can they not figure out that these cases would be taken to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which in turn would turn into major trouble for France?

On the other side of the medallion, how much of a victory is this really for anti-Turkish Armenian groups?
Yes, it has been somewhat painful but recently, with involvement of Orhan Pamuk, the Armenian problem, with its every dimension -- and yes with a criminal trial side to it -- has been opened to public debate. For now, don't pay heed to those who are infuriated with the blow dealt by France and those who are angry with Orhan Pamuk's prize on the grounds that he took up the Armenian issue, that's why they gave him the award. Time passes, skies remain. When this controversy dies down, the only remaining record will be that a Turkish author won the Nobel Prize for literature. I don't think Orhan Pamuk needed a Nobel to prove that he is a great writer. For, politicization of the Nobel Prize is not a new phenomenon. Pamuk was just a great writer without the Nobel, read by the entire world. Now, he has entered into consciousness of literary history.

Yesterday, Pamuk comforted our hearts upset by France.

13 October 2006
Turkish Daily News




WE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT HAPPENED, TOO (M.ALI BIRAND)
We have been living with this nerve-wracking matter for years. One day in Paris, the next in the US Congress, we see developments concerning the Armenian genocide. Ankara fears approval of a bill and takes measures against it. However, the threat has never been greater. It appears that this time it won’t be so easy to stop.

For decades, we have been watching the same old movie over and over again.

Every March, the U.S: Congress wakes up.

American-Armenians try their best to ensure that the U.S. Congress approves the genocide claims. Such campaigns intensify before every election. Of course Ankara reacts furiously and the Foreign Ministry tries to pressure the White House to intervene. Officials are told how strategically important Turkey is and how bad the passage of such a bill would be for bilateral relations. Delegations are sent and statements are released. These last-minute efforts usually save us until the next year.

During these fights Turkey's fury is usually directed against the Armenian diaspora. The world is told that the real massacres were perpetrated by Armenians. Some black and white movies are shown as evidence. The private sector and the state bureaucracy talk about the campaigns they will initiate. All the speeches are peppered with I will… or I won't…

Soon later, everything is forgotten. Until the next year's Armenian attack, no one talks about the matter.

It's almost always the same scenario. The same happens in France every year, with only a date change.

The Armenian diaspora in France is stronger than the one in the United States. They also know all the weaknesses of French politicians and act accordingly. They know exactly which buttons to press. In 2001, they made the French parliament approve a bill that stipulates that France accepts a genocide happened. Now they are criminalizing its denial.

I am sure the Armenian diaspora is very happy with what is happening. However, the matter they seem to be forgetting is that Armenia is on the losing side. From now on, there can be no discussion in Turkey over establishing a dialogue with Armenia or opening the border.

So what will we do?

Nothing. We will soon forget about it.

You'll see that all those who make impressive and exaggerated statements these days will do nothing to follow up their performances. Nothing will be done to formulate a response.

However, the Armenians won't be forgetting this any time soon.

They will continue to campaign against Turkey.

The bill that was passed by the French parliament yesterday will be approved by the senate tomorrow or in a year's time. Then it will be presented to the president. We will all be watching the same things happening over and over throughout this process.

I see what has happened more as our failure rather than as an achievement on the part of Armenians. If you don't defend what you believe is right, others will come and force their truths on you.

Let's not blame anyone else.

We are the ones responsible.

Europe passes the test against France:
As the debates over what the French parliament was doing raged on, all eyes had turned to the European Union. Everyone was wondering how the EU would react to what was going on.

People were wondering whether the EU and the EU Commission would remain silent.

The first statement was made by EU Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn.

Then European Commission President Barosso spoke.

Both assessed the developments in France correctly.

Both said the developments in France would affect Turkish-European relations negatively.

EU-Turkey Parliamentary Committee Joint Chairman Joost Lagendijk and Turkey rapporteur Camile Eurlings objected to what was going on too.

It was important to hear their voices. If Turkey had been left alone to defend itself in this process, those who didn't believe in the EU project in Turkey would have been proven right.

This time, the EU defended Turkey against an important EU member.

The EU Commission's stance here is very important. Those who read this column must have seen me defending the EU Commission as basically a pro-EU institution.

In the last few days, Turkey must have seen who its true friends are.

Who will lose with this law?
Who will benefit and who will lose if this bill becomes law?

The only one benefiting from this law will be the Armenian diaspora. This way, they will be able to point to France to try to persuade other EU countries and the United States to do the same. The French parliament's decision will be seen as a symbol. They will pressure the world to accept that the Armenian genocide is a fact.

One country that will be harmed is France. It will lose any credibility or influence it has over Turkey. Political relations will most probably be suspended. French economic interests will also suffer. Many state tenders that may have gone to French companies will be given to others.

The biggest damage will be suffered by Armenia.

The Turkish public's attitude against the genocide claim will become tougher, and any possibility of a formula for an agreement will be gone.

The opening of the Turkey-Armenia border will be postponed indefinitely.

Any efforts to establish dialogue between Armenia and Turkey will be suspended.

Turkey will be hurt, too. France's stance on matters of interest to Turkey will be negative. French tourists will most probably choose another country to spend their holidays in.

13 October 2006
Turkish Daily News
Mehmet Ali Birand




INDIGNATION AND PRIDE (YUSUF KANLI)
Despite all the indignation of the Turks with the French vote, after some time things of course will gradually return to normalcy. However, the Nobel win of Pamuk will enter into the annals of history as 'The first Nobel prize for Literature win by a Turk.'

Yesterday was one of those difficult days. Should I be angry with the French for criminalizing denial of the so-called Armenian genocide and thus seriously curtailing freedom of speech, or be jubilant over the Nobel Prize for Literature being awarded to Orhan Pamuk -- who has become the first-ever Turk to win the prestigious prize and who beyond doubt was accorded that honor not solely for his outstanding skill demonstrated in his many books but for his words on the Armenians killed in this country.

Perhaps it was unfortunate for Pamuk that he was accorded that prestigious prize on a day when the vote-hunting French parliamentarians messed up the entire web of historic relations between Turkey and France. Perhaps he was fortunate that his prize coincided with the unfortunate French development and that many people would not want to remember all the lobbying he did, including wooing the Armenians with those controversial remarks that, apart from him, no one in Turkey bothers with the alleged murder of 1.5 million Armenians.

Soon the French move to criminalize free speech will be forgotten as we are confident that neither will the French Senate take up the bill nor will the French presidency endorse it into law. It will be remembered as a nasty development, which for a period seriously hurt Turkish-French relations in all spheres, particularly in commercial and civilian affairs as well as military cooperation. According to French industrialists, they say the vote could damage trade, with French exports to Turkey amounting to 4.66 billion euros in 2005. While Turkey, as a country engaged in EU accession talks and which has a customs union deal with the bloc, cannot launch an official boycott campaign against imports from France, most of the Turkish chambers of commerce have already declared that they would encourage Turks not to buy French products.

In the immediate future, as the Foreign Ministry underlined in a strongly worded statement yesterday, we will have a serious chill in Turkish-French relations, and of course the development will have some serious repercussions on the already delicate accession talks process. Indeed, very much like the recent exploitation of the Cyprus issue, we believe one of the driving forces for the French politicians who backed this bill was their hope that it would antagonize Turkey and force the Turks to once again consider whether the EU accession deal is worth all this trouble.

Furthermore, it was very unfortunate for the democrats of Turkey, who have been championing further reforms and insisting in particular on the amendment of the Turkish Penal Code's (TCK) Article 301, which seriously curtails free speech and under which Pamuk and many other writers and intellectuals have been persecuted. Reforming Article 301 has become even more difficult now with France, a bastion of free speech, taking a step to criminalize free speech. It is so unfortunate.

How could a country like France vote on such a bill and still claim it shares European values? What France unleashed yesterday was not just an attempt to rewrite history with parliamentary legislation but was also an effort to convert parliament into a courtroom where opponents of that political history are subjected to summary execution.

France should not be a country held hostage to the ambitions of some politicians hunting for the votes from French Armenians in the coming elections. So unfortunate for French democracy.

Despite all the indignation of the Turks over the French vote, after some time things of course will gradually return to normal, though some scars will mar the ties forever and the French from now on will always have a credibility problem in this country.

However, the Nobel win of Pamuk, irrespective whether we have an appreciation for his work or his personality, will enter into the annals of history as a bright page that will read, The first Nobel Prize for Literature win by a Turk. Of course we expected for so many years that the living monument to Turkish literature, Yaşar Kemal, would be presented that prestigious prize. Had Kemal won it, nobody in this country or elsewhere would be able to say political considerations were involved in him getting it. Pamuk's rows with the establishment were unfortunately most likely a calculated move to bolster his international fame and lay his hands on the Nobel. Still, we are very happy that a Turk has finally been awarded this prize, which may make the world realize that there is a Turkish literature that is very rich and versatile.

Congratulations, Pamuk. It's a very nice thing that Turkey received a Nobel prize.

13 October 2006
Turkish Daily News




IF ONLY GETTING ANGRY WITH FRANCE WERE THE SOLUTION (ABDULHAMIT BILICI)
The agenda related to the Armenian genocide claim previously had a routine schedule. Everyone knew that the issue would confront us on the commemoration day of the genocide claim in April.

As a result of the powerful Armenian lobby’s efforts, the subject would be put on the agenda of the American Congress. But by putting its own weight on the American government, Ankara would try and prevent a dangerous development.

This issue, repeated again and again, had become so trying that it is said that during Turgut Ozal’s visit to Washington in 1991, he asked our American ambassador Nuzhet Kandemir if it wouldn’t just be better to acknowledge the genocide and end the matter. Kandemir is said to have replied, “Honorable President, this is not a matter to be resolved hastily. It is necessary to think well and be careful.”

Years have passed since this conversation. Maybe this accusation that our nation perpetrated genocide is really not an issue to be resolved hastily, but it’s certain that Turkey hasn’t been able to prevent it by thinking well. The matter has rapidly gone beyond a routine calendar date. Due to the impossibility of an early diagnosis being made, it has spread like cancer. It has become an issue that appears before us in every month of the year and in almost every place in the world. Let’s look at the latest examples together:

A case was opened a year ago in Switzerland against Yusuf Halacoglu, director of the Turkish History Institute, because he said at a meeting that the events the Armenians experienced in history were not genocide.

Turkish recognition of the genocide claim was put in the latest report on Turkey by the European Parliament. This was not the first decision for this institution, but recognition of the genocide claim was put in the draft report as a precondition for EU membership. The text was softened a little during the report’s approval process. It was not a precondition, but there was no change in the request for recognition of the genocide.

At the same time the genocide claim surfaced in Holland. Parliamentary candidates of Turkish origin were removed from the voting lists because they rejected the claims of genocide.

Now we are locked in by a decision the French parliament will give. A proposal brought forth by the opposition makes it a crime to “deny the Armenian genocide.” The French government says it is opposed to this. Optimism continues that if the proposal passes in the French Congress, it will be stopped by the Senate. Perhaps with the intervention of the European Union and France not wanting to lose the Turkish market, this initiative might fall through. However, even if it is prevented, we shouldn’t neglect this point: It is no longer being debated whether or not the genocide occurred. The matter has passed to a more advanced stage. Now the discussion is on whether or not recognition should be a precondition for EU membership or whether or not those rejecting genocide should be put in jail.

Consequently, those in responsible positions should finally cease closing their ears to alarms that have been ringing for a long time. As we continue to neglect taking up this issue, it doesn’t remain in the same place. Today what faces our brothers in Holland will probably confront our history professors tomorrow and our statesmen the next day. In view of this serious danger, we have to develop a pro-active political strategy instead of assigning the matter to historians. It is foremost a political task. Otherwise, we’re going to have to declare war on a different country each day or boycott their products. We need to get results in this direction in one or two events; we can’t close our eyes to our citizens’ walking around in the world as if they were trying to hide a fault. Enemies will act with enmity, but we need to question why we haven’t explained our own case as a nation possessing perhaps the most magnificent history in the world in regard to tolerance.

As a matter of fact, Professor Sukru Hanioglu, an important name on the subject of recent history, indicated that the official thesis of leaving the last word to historians regarding the 1915 Migration Law and events that followed in its wake didn’t make sense. He wrote that instead of an unrealistic thesis such as this, which doesn’t have much chance of being accepted outside of Turkey, Turkish politicians, in consultation with historians, should develop a new “political strategy.” (Zaman, 1/20/05) Alarming developme

13 October 2006
Zaman




DENYING THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE IS NOW A CRIME
A socialist proposal has been passed by the assemblée nationale today banning denial of the Turks' genocide of the Armenians in 1915. The text goes to the upper house - and the UMP didn't even vote.

It started with Jacques Chirac's insistence, when on an official visit to Yerevan earlier this month, that in order for Turkey to gain EU accession, they must no longer deny the Armenian genocide of 1915. Both criticised and applauded for his claim, Chirac returned to France with a government that seemed hesitant to accept his words.

The UMP, indeed, did not vote today. The Socialist party had proposed a law that would make denial of the genocide a crime. It was voted through parliament by 106 votes to 19 - Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP party refused to vote against a law that has popular approval, but made its opposition to the idea clear.

"There was already a law in 2001", said Catherine Collonna from the French foreign office. "Why do we need another one? The knock-on effects could be the opposite of those desired - we should not be writing history into the law books."

One UMP MP who has consistently defended the Armenian cause is Patrick Devedjian, also a devout Sarkozy supporter. He said today: "Turkey even passed a law that would jail anyone who affirmed the genocide. They can't give us any lessons."

Recep Tayyip Erdogan wished today to remind France of its colonial past, and has denounced the law. The law itself enforces a one-year prison spell and a fine of 45,000 euros for anyone who denies the genocide of the Armenians.

13 October 2006
Paris-Link




AZERBAIJAN ECHOES TURKISH FURY OVER 'GENOCIDE' VOTE
Authorities in Turkey's close ally Azerbaijan echoed Ankara's outrage Thursday after the French lower house of parliament adopted a bill making it a crime to deny that the massacre of Armenians under Ottoman rule was genocide.

The assembly "has fallen under the influence of Armenian circles.

This decision damages France itself, the cradle of democracy," said Novruz Mamedov, foreign affairs advisor for Azerbaijan's presidential administration.

The bill still needs the approval of the upper house of parliament and the president to take effect.

Azerbaijan has a long-standing dispute with its neighbor Armenia.

The two sides fought an early 1990s war for control of the ethnic-Armenian enclave of Nagorny Karabakh, resulting in the expulsion of all Azeris from the province.

Turkey and Azerbaijan, which share linguistic and ethnic links, strongly oppose the use of the term "genocide" in describing World War I-era massacres of Armenians and argue that the period of history has not been researched thoroughly enough.

The parliament's "decision on events that took place 100 years ago, without the proper research, is not the right approach," Mamedov told ÀFĞ, adding that Armenian claims of genocide were "based on fictional ideas".

Azerbaijani lawmakers said the draft flouts the freedom of speech.

"This decision is against the interest of France itself. Punishing freedom of expression and alternate views on these un-researched events damages European values," said Asim Mollazadeh, a deputy in Azerbaijan's parliament, the Milli Mejlis.

Azerbaijan is a burgeoning oil exporter, but its unresolved conflict with Armenia has slowed regional development.

Turkish business groups were quick to warn France that its businesses in Turkey could suffer if the draft was passed into law. But Azerbaijan, where France's Total has a 10 percent stake in the giant Caspian Shah Deniz gas field, has yet to follow suite.

13 October 2006
Baku Today




TURKEY WILL BE THE WINNING PARTY, SAYS DINK
Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, who was among the first to condemn a French bill that penalizes denial of an alleged Armenian genocide, argued that adoption of the bill would strengthen the hand of Turkey in the name of freedom of expression.

I don't believe that this bill will be approved by the Senate; however, whether it is adopted or not, no one should be sorry; in my opinion, Turkey will be the one profiting. On the contrary, the Armenians will lose, Dink told the NTV on Thursday following adoption of the controversial bill by the French National Assembly.

Dink had already slammed the French bill, calling it idiocy, despite being among a handful of taboo-breaking intellectuals in Turkey who have openly argued that the killings of Anatolian Armenians during World War I was genocide, drawing nationalist ire and landing himself in court.

Dink, editor of the Turkish-Armenian bilingual weekly Agos, received a six-month suspended sentence last year for insulting the very concept of Turkishness in an article about the 1915-1917 killings. He is scheduled to go on trial again under the same provision; this time for saying the killings were genocide.

The international community until recently has perceived Armenians as the aggrieved party, while Turks have been perceived as unjust, Dink in an apparent reference to the influential Armenian Diaspora's efforts for gaining public support to their thesis of genocide all over the world.

From now on the Turkish side has become the unjustly treated party. I believe that Turkey will use this situation and display its freedom of expression against an attempt to take it away, by the adoption of the bill, Dink said.

Nevertheless, if the anti-European Union groups within the country use this situation in order to score domestic political goals, it will lead to complications in relations between Turkey and the EU, he also noted.

Dink also touched upon an ongoing debate concerning Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), under which he has been charged, and bought to mind that French lawmakers used the fact that Article 301 has been limiting freedom of expression in Turkey to say Turkey has no right to criticize France in the name of freedom of expression.

These are not wrong [arguments]. … Yet, there are laws and rulings that limit freedom of expression. We have to think 'Let's do the right thing!' If we do the right thing, missteps such as the one taken by France will be isolated.

Dink earlier said he was ready to defend freedom of expression even if it means running the risk of imprisonment in France. I am standing trial in Turkey for saying it was genocide. If this bill is adopted, I will go to France and, in spite of my conviction, I will say it was not genocide. The two countries can then compete to see who throws me in jail first.

13 October 2006
Turkish Daily News




FRENCH IN ARMENIA ?eGENOCIDE?f ROW
The Armenian genocide is commemorated throughout Europe by the victims’ families.
The French parliament has adopted a bill making it a crime to deny that Armenians suffered “genocide” at the hands of the Turks, infuriating Turkey.

The bill, which would make genocide denial punishable by a year in jail and a 45,000-euro ($56,400) fine, will now be passed to the Senate and president.

Turkey has threatened to retaliate with economic sanctions against France.

Armenia says Ottoman Turks killed 1.5 million people systematically in 1915 – a claim strongly denied by Turkey.


Free vote
Turkey has been warning France for weeks not to pass the bill. Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said on Wednesday: “If this bill is passed, Turkey will not lose anything but France will lose Turkey. France will turn into a country that jails people who express their views.” The vote, in the lower house of the French parliament yesterday morning, was sponsored by the opposition Socialist party.

The ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) did not back the law, but gave its deputies a free vote. It passed by 106 votes to 19.


FRENCH LOWER HOUSE APPROVES ARMENIAN GENOCIDE BILL
France’s lower house of parliament voted yesterday to make it a crime to deny that Armenians suffered genocide at the hands of Ottoman Turks – a move which could seriously damage Turkey’s relations with France.


Here are some details:
* THE BACKGROUND:

In the late 19th century the Armenian minority, numbering an estimated 2 million, in the Ottoman Empire were encouraged by exiled groups in the United States, Geneva and in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, to assert their nationalism.

Repression by Ottoman irregulars, mainly Kurds, led to the massacre of some 30,000 Armenians in eastern Anatolia in 1894-1896. Several thousand more were killed in Constantinople in August 1896 after Armenian extremists seized the Ottoman Bank to draw attention to their cause.

Their massacres were halted after the Great Powers threatened to intervene.

WHAT HAPPENED IN 1915:
As the Ottomans fought Russian forces in eastern Anatolia during World War One, many Armenians formed partisan groups to assist the invading Russian armies.

On April 24, 1915, Turkey arrested and killed hundreds of Armenian intelligentsia.

In May 1915, Ottoman commanders began mass deportation of Armenians from eastern Turkey thinking they might assist Russian invaders.

Thousands were marched from the Anatolian borders towards Syria and Mesopotamia (now Iraq) and Armenians say some 1.5 million died either in massacres or from starvation or deprivation as they were marched through the desert.

TURKEY’S VIEW:
Turkey has always denied there was a systematic campaign to annihilate Armenians, saying that thousands of Turks and Armenians died in inter-ethnic violence as the Ottoman Empire started to collapse and fought a Russian invasion of its eastern provinces during World War One.

The modern Turkish republic was established in 1923 after the Ottoman empire collapsed.

13 October 2006
Lex Press




Praise for first laureate tempered by controversy
The elation generated by Orhan Pamuk's achievement of winning the Nobel Prize in Literature was tainted by claims that the main reason he was awarded the prize was due to his comments over the Armenian genocide allegations.

The Foreign Ministry was quick to note its pleasure over the award, asserting its belief that it meant Turkish literature would make its mark on the world scene.

Despite the general elation, some commentators qualified their praise by noting their reservations

October 13, 2006
ANKARA - TDN with wire services




Train crash with Paris
Ankara says ties with France have received a ‘heavy blow’ after the National Assembly vote, slams French ‘double standards’

Turkey reacted in fury after the French National Assembly adopted a bill yesterday that criminalizes denial of an alleged genocide of Armenians, saying the move has dealt a “heavy blow” to bilateral ties.

“Turkish-French relations, which have been meticulously developed over the centuries, took a heavy blow today through the irresponsible initiatives of some short-sighted French politicians, based on unfounded allegations,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement released after lawmakers in the 577-seat National Assembly voted 106 to 19 to pass the controversial bill. “With this draft law, France is unfortunately losing its privileged status with the Turkish people.”

Turkish reaction came despite assurances by the French government that it did not support the bill and that it valued ties with Turkey. “We are very keen on dialogue with Turkey, as well as on the strong ties of friendship and cooperation which link us to that country,” said French Foreign Ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei. Catherine Colonna, the French minister delegate for European affairs, also told the National Assembly that it was not up to parliaments to “write history” and warned passage of the bill could be counterproductive.

But the tension has been simmering since 2001, when the French Parliament voted to recognize allegations of Armenian genocide. Following yesterday's vote, Ankara's criticism reached a peak.

“This bill, which infringes upon freedom of expression in a manner that does not befit a democratic regime, has caused indignation among the Turkish nation, including our Armenian citizens that we have been living together with for centuries,” the statement said.

It also said the bill amounted to a violation of European norms on freedom of expression and accused France of applying double standards.

“It is a striking contradiction that the parliament of a country whose officials say that rewriting history is not up to parliaments when it comes to questioning their own history, passes judgment on the history of other countries and sees itself empowered to impose penal sanctions,” it said. “The credibility of states depends firstly on whether they embrace the values they preach.”

Entry into force of the bill is expected to be a lengthy process, as it should first go to the Senate for another vote and will have to be signed by the president before it becomes law. Observers say the French government may take its time while bringing it to the Senate floor and if there are any changes to the bill when the Senate votes on it, it must be put to another vote in the National Assembly, where the last day of business before the 2007 presidential and parliamentary elections is expected to be around the end of February 2007.

But yesterday's vote is still seen in Turkey as a sign of French reluctance to deal with Turkey on set principles and to allow Turkey's bid to join the European Union to progress.

Turkish officials have repeatedly vowed a restrained reaction to France, despite public calls for an all-out boycott of French goods and suggestions that scores of Turks would dare to end up in prison in France in protest of the bill by going there and declaring that there was no genocide.

But it is not a secret that French companies would be excluded from major tenders in a number of areas, including the one for construction of Turkey's first nuclear power plant.

Political ties are also likely to be reduced to a minimum, possibly through lowered level of representation in mutual visits and even cancellation of certain visits.

Parliament Speaker Bülent Arınç said the French move reflected a “hostile attitude” towards Turkey. “It is a shameful decision. This is a hostile attitude against the Turkish nation. ... It is unacceptable.”

Pointing at France's Armenian community of some 400,000 people, he said it was “deplorable” that a move threatening France's ties with Turkey was undertaken as “policy to please a certain ethnic element” ahead of presidential elections in France next year.

“Those who say there was genocide and those who say there was not should enjoy the same freedom,” he added.

In Brussels, State Minister Ali Babacan, who is also Turkey's chief negotiator for EU talks, said he could not exclude damage to French companies. He added that it was ironic that such a move should come from a founding member of the EU and champion of liberty, which has constantly stressed in its dealings with Ankara the need for Turkey to ensure freedom of expression.

“What happened in France today we believe is not in line with the core values of the EU,” he said.

EU criticizes vote:
The EU, which has been pressing Turkey to improve freedom of expression, warning of a “train crash” if it does not do so, and open its ports and airports to traffic from Greek Cyprus, also criticized the French parliament approval of the bill, saying it could harm dialogue between Turkey and Armenia.

“Should this law enter into force ... it would prohibit dialogue which is necessary for reconciliation on the issue,” EU Commission spokeswoman Krisztina Nagy told a regular news conference.

Asked whether the bill could add a stumbling block to difficult accession talks with Ankara opened just over a year ago, she noted recognition of the 1915 killings as a genocide was not a precondition for accession.

“It is not up to law to write history. Historians need to have debate,” she said.

October 13, 2006
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News




French row impact on Turkish economy seen limited
The damage to economic ties between France and Turkey after French parliament voted to make it a crime to deny Armenians suffered a genocide by Ottoman Turks during World War I is expected to be limited.

The French parliament voted for the bill, despite warnings from French firms that it would create repercussions for their business in Turkey, a fast-growing market that imported 4.7 billion euros worth of French goods in 2005.

But the YTL strengthened 1 percent on Thursday after the news, and economists said they did not expect the bill to hit French direct investment in Turkey or trade between the two countries.

"I believe it is exaggerated. French firms may hesitate in the short term and want to see the extent of a boycott, but no mark will be left on trade or investment in the medium or long term," said JP Morgan's Yarkın Cebeci.

Hundreds of French firms such as Renault and Carrefour have large investments in Turkey, employing thousands of Turkish workers while this week Turkish consumer groups and some trade unions called for boycotts of French products.

But economists questioned the effectiveness of a boycott on France, which is one of the biggest economies in the world, as Turkey accounts for only 1.3 percent of France's exports.

"Now we are coming to an understanding that this is not very logical. It has been understood that a boycott of French firms would hurt our citizens," said Fortis Bank chief economist Haluk Bürümcekçi.

Past Turkish boycott calls against other countries had an effect only for a short time.

French firms that could be targeted in a boycott include Carrefour, Total, Air France, Club Med, Danone, Michelin, Renault, Peugeot, L'Oreal and Lacoste.

Economy Minister Ali Babacan also said that the government was not encouraging a boycott, but said it was up to the people to decide.

"Time will show. But I cannot say it will not have any consequences," said Babacan.

And the man on the street may heed boycott calls as nationalist emotions and anti-EU sentiment run high in the country.

"We would not be surprised to see nationalists locally in Turkey pushing grassroots action against France, perhaps a boycott of French products," said Timothy Ash of Bear, Stearns & Co.

The Turkish government could bar French firms from state tenders such as a $5 billion nuclear power project and lucrative arms purchase deals.

The Turkish stock market also shrugged off the French vote as investors had already priced in the bill's passage and expect it to fail when it reaches the Senate or President Jacques Chirac.

"The markets believe that its legislation will be difficult and that will limit the reaction," said TEB deputy general manager Ümit Leblebici. The Istanbul stock exchange rose 1.1 percent to 38,061 points.

October 13, 2006
Selçuk Gökoluk
ANKARA - Reuters




Greece labels Turkey's warnings to France as ‘threats':
Greece on Thursday criticized Turkey, labeling as "threats" Ankara's warnings to Paris over a French draft law that would make it a crime to deny that the 1915-1917 killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire was “genocide.”

“Threats or insinuations and the virulent tone of public statements do not befit a country on the road to joining the European Union,” Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos told a news briefing.

French deputies in the National Assembly on Thursday passed the bill introduced by the opposition Socialist Party by 106 votes to 19.

If it is subsequently passed by the Senate, and then again by the National Assembly, and signed into law by President Jacques Chirac, it would make it a crime in France to deny that the killings of the Armenians were “genocide.”

Those violating the law would face up to one year in prison and a fine of up to 45,000 euros.

ANK - TDN with AFP




These are summaries of selected opinions from Turkish newspapers on October 12, 2006
Breaking your fast for being mad at the imam:Bugün's Güneri Civaoğlu yesterday likened giving up on the European Union process out of frustration with France is like breaking one's religious fast for being angry with the imam. The French parliament is likely to pass a bill criminalizing claims of Armenians that the Ottoman mass killings of Armenians in 1915 amounted to genocide. Following that, the Dutch parliament is set to discuss a similar bill. In addition, bills about genocide of the Suryani population and Pontus Greeks are also underway. In other words, a number of ridiculous issues might become laws in some European countries. All these coming at a certain point in time is in no way a coincidence. On June 12 this year, when the first chapter of negotiations was officially opened and closed and when Turkey turned a symbolically significant corner in the way of accession, the anti-Turkish league in the EU literally started an uprising. This is why the results of this voting should not be viewed in terms of Turkish-French relations. This issue includes dimensions that might turn into a Turkey-EU problem. Here, Turkey should not panic and take insistent and calm steps towards democratization. Although this has become more difficult now, it is more necessary than ever before. In addition, Turkey should understand that it is not alone in this struggle. Both European Commissioner responsible for enlargement Olli Rehn and Commission President Manual Barosso have openly objected to France. Turkey's strategic importance is also a major advantage. Strong communication with Turkey and unbreakable ties with it is the pillar to ensure regional security, as recently stated by Joshka Fischer in a recent article. Could Turkey leave its 1,000 years of European orientation just because of the narrow-minded legislators of France?

European outlook is changing:Vatan's Cengiz Aktar said yesterday that if the French parliament adopts a proposal criminalizing denial of Armenian genocide by Ottoman Turks, a new period in how Europe views Turkey might be starting. Until today, the European approach to most of our problems was condescending and humiliating to Turkey. Many European opinion leaders, including those of France were unnerved by the French proposal. EU Minister MacShane, Barosso, Rehn and Verheugan have underlined that Turkey is now a partner of Europe, and it should be viewed that day. The antipathy of Turkey might turn into empathy. Perhaps, the French Socialist Party's proposal will backfire and start a new period for Turkey.

October 13, 2006
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News




Armenians hail 'historic' vote in France
An association representing the Armenian diaspora in Europe on Thursday welcomed the approval by French deputies of a bill making it a crime to deny that the 1915-1917 killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire were genocide.

"We welcome with emotion this historic step forward through which, once again, France points the way down the path of progress, humanity and dignity," Hilda Tchoboian, president of the Brussels-based Euro-Armenian Federation said in a statement.

"The hydra of denial is a tumor on freedom of expression and a threat to public order that must be eradicated," she went on, thanking all the "political personalities who joined together in this struggle."

The draft law -- which has provoked the fury of Turkey, the modern state that emerged from the Ottoman Empire -- was adopted on Thursday by the French lower house of parliament.

It now goes to the Senate, or upper house of Parliament, for another vote.

Turkey contests the term "genocide" and strongly opposed the French bill.

It says 300,000 Armenians, and at least as many Turks, died in civil strife when Armenians took up arms for independence and sided with invading Russian troops as the Ottoman Empire fell apart during World War I.

Armenians say up to 1.5 million of their ancestors were slaughtered in orchestrated killings, which they maintain can only be seen as genocide.

The Euro-Armenian Federation brings together several organizations representing the Armenian diaspora in Europe.

October 13, 2006
BRUSSELS/BAKU - AFP




Azerbaijan echoes Turkish fury over 'genocide' vote
Authorities in Turkey's close ally Azerbaijan echoed Ankara's outrage yesterday after the passage of the controversial bill at the French parliament.

The assembly "has fallen under the influence of Armenian circles. This decision damages France itself, the cradle of democracy," said Novruz Mamedov, foreign affairs advisor for Azerbaijan's presidential administration.

Azerbaijan has a long-standing dispute with its neighbor Armenia. The two sides fought an early 1990s war for control of Nagorno-Karabakh, resulting in the expulsion of all Azeris from the province.

The parliament's "decision on events that took place 100 years ago, without the proper research, is not the right approach," Mamedov told AFP, adding that Armenian claims of genocide were "based on fictional ideas".

Azerbaijani lawmakers said the draft flouts the freedom of speech.

"This decision is against the interest of France itself. Punishing freedom of expression and alternate views on these un-researched events damages European values," said Asim Mollazadeh, a deputy in Azerbaijan's parliament, the Milli Mejlis.

Azerbaijan is a burgeoning oil exporter, but its unresolved conflict with Armenia has slowed regional development.

Turkish business groups were quick to warn France that its businesses in Turkey could suffer if the draft was passed into law. But Azerbaijan, where France's Total has a 10 percent stake in the giant Caspian Shah Deniz gas field, has yet to follow suit.




Indignation and pride
Despite all the indignation of the Turks with the French vote, after some time things of course will gradually return to normalcy. However, the Nobel win of Pamuk will enter into the annals of history as 'The first Nobel prize for Literature win by a Turk.'

Yesterday was one of those difficult days. Should I be angry with the French for criminalizing denial of the so-called Armenian “genocide” and thus seriously curtailing freedom of speech, or be jubilant over the Nobel Prize for Literature being awarded to Orhan Pamuk -- who has become the first-ever Turk to win the prestigious prize and who beyond doubt was accorded that honor not solely for his outstanding skill demonstrated in his many books but for his words on the Armenians killed in this country.

Perhaps it was unfortunate for Pamuk that he was accorded that prestigious prize on a day when the vote-hunting French parliamentarians messed up the entire web of historic relations between Turkey and France. Perhaps he was fortunate that his prize coincided with the unfortunate French development and that many people would not want to remember all the lobbying he did, including wooing the Armenians with those controversial remarks that, apart from him, no one in Turkey bothers with the alleged murder of 1.5 million Armenians.

Soon the French move to criminalize free speech will be forgotten as we are confident that neither will the French Senate take up the bill nor will the French presidency endorse it into law. It will be remembered as a nasty development, which for a period seriously hurt Turkish-French relations in all spheres, particularly in commercial and civilian affairs as well as military cooperation. According to French industrialists, they say the vote could damage trade, with French exports to Turkey amounting to 4.66 billion euros in 2005. While Turkey, as a country engaged in EU accession talks and which has a customs union deal with the bloc, cannot launch an official boycott campaign against imports from France, most of the Turkish chambers of commerce have already declared that they would encourage Turks not to buy French products.

In the immediate future, as the Foreign Ministry underlined in a strongly worded statement yesterday, we will have a serious chill in Turkish-French relations, and of course the development will have some serious repercussions on the already delicate accession talks process. Indeed, very much like the recent exploitation of the Cyprus issue, we believe one of the driving forces for the French politicians who backed this bill was their hope that it would antagonize Turkey and force the Turks to once again consider whether the EU accession deal is worth all this trouble.

Furthermore, it was very unfortunate for the democrats of Turkey, who have been championing further reforms and insisting in particular on the amendment of the Turkish Penal Code's (TCK) Article 301, which seriously curtails free speech and under which Pamuk and many other writers and intellectuals have been persecuted. Reforming Article 301 has become even more difficult now with France, a bastion of free speech, taking a step to criminalize free speech. It is so unfortunate.

How could a country like France vote on such a bill and still claim it shares European values? What France unleashed yesterday was not just an attempt to rewrite history with parliamentary legislation but was also an effort to convert parliament into a courtroom where opponents of that political history are subjected to summary execution.

France should not be a country held hostage to the ambitions of some politicians hunting for the votes from French Armenians in the coming elections. So unfortunate for French democracy.

Despite all the indignation of the Turks over the French vote, after some time things of course will gradually return to normal, though some scars will mar the ties forever and the French from now on will always have a credibility problem in this country.

However, the Nobel win of Pamuk, irrespective whether we have an appreciation for his work or his personality, will enter into the annals of history as a bright page that will read, “The first Nobel Prize for Literature win by a Turk.” Of course we expected for so many years that the living monument to Turkish literature, Yaşar Kemal, would be presented that prestigious prize. Had Kemal won it, nobody in this country or elsewhere would be able to say political considerations were involved in him getting it. Pamuk's rows with the establishment were unfortunately most likely a calculated move to bolster his international fame and lay his hands on the Nobel. Still, we are very happy that a Turk has finally been awarded this prize, which may make the world realize that there is a Turkish literature that is very rich and versatile.

Congratulations, Pamuk. It's a very nice thing that Turkey received a Nobel prize.

October 13, 2006
TDN editorial by Yusuf KANLI




Opposition up in arms against France
Opposition parties yesterday strongly condemned the adoption of a controversial bill by French lawmakers that makes it a crime to deny that Armenians were subjected to genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.

“It is not possible to take history hostage,” main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal said in a statement. “France is trying to prevent talks over historical facts through law. … France has added another matter of shame to its history,” he said. “I strongly condemn the decision made by the French Parliament.”

Motherland Party (ANAVATAN) leader Erkan Mumcu described the passage of the bill at the French National Assembly in Paris as “clowning” and called for a heavy boycott on French products. “France is betraying all the values upon which it is founded,” he said. “We cannot remain a bystander to France's arrogance. We must boycott French products.”

Democratic Left Party (DSP) leader Zeki Sezer said the French Parliament stained not Turkey but itself. “We have the right to show any reaction in the face of rough attacks against freedom of expression, historical truths and Turkey,” he said in a statement.

Facing increasing European Union demands to amend articles in its penal code that restrict freedom of expression, Turkey has complained of double standards, saying that one of the EU's major founders, France, is blocking free speech under the bill it adopted.

“There is no doubt that the goal of the [French] attempt is to drive Turkey away from its EU road but our Europeanness is based upon a historical fact. Turkey has not geared itself toward the West under the patronage of France or any other country. Therefore, such attempts cannot deviate Turkey from its path,” he added.

True Path Party (DYP) leader Mehmet Ağar strongly denounced the adoption of the bill, which he said was against democracy, human rights and freedom of expression that France has always and at every opportunity defended. He claimed that the French decision dealt a heavy blow to Turkish-French ties that would leave profound and irreparable traces in the memory of the Turkish public.

Members of the Ankara branch of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) protested France in front of the French Embassy in Ankara, calling for a boycott against French goods. “Murderer France, do not forget Algeria,” the protestors said, unfurling banners “Boycott on French products.”

“There is no massacre or genocide in the state tradition of the Turks, but [there is] justice,” MHP Ankara head Ömer Demirel said.

Çorum deputy from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Agah Kafkas, meanwhile, announced his resignation from the French caucus in the Turkish Parliament. “I condemn the French attitude that disregards democracy and human rights and that does not recognize history. … Our parliament should give a necessary response to French move,” he said.

Turkey's leading business group, the Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen's Association (TÜSİAD), said France made a very grave mistake by adopting the controversial bill, which contradicts the spirit of Europeanness and democracy. “The best response that can be given to France will be to speed up political reforms that encompass the freedom of expression in particular on the way to full EU membership and to advance through our objective without deviation,” TÜSİAD said.

Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu, head of the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodities Exchanges (TOBB), harshly criticized the French bill, saying that the French National Assembly failed the test of law and conscience.

Nationwide protests:

The passage of the “genocide bill” in Paris sparked protests throughout Turkey.

Members of the Kemalist Thought Club at Erzurum's Atatürk University gathered in front of the monument to modern Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk to protest the French decision.

A local businessman from Denizli sent letters to French President Jacques Chirac, Chiristian Poncelet, head of the French Senate, French Parliament Speaker M. Jean Louis Debre and French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin. “Do you have evidence that shows our ancestors committed genocide? Are you a historian that you are making decisions on such historical issues?” he asked politicians.

“France should take a look at its dark history,” Malatya Bar Association head Mehmet Görgeç said, in apparent reference to Algerian killings under the French colonial rule.

October 13, 2006
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News




Turkey's 'portrait' in the West is far smaller than the actual frame
Our foreign desk chief here at Referans, Melis Şenerdem, captured the essential question the other day in the run-up to yesterday’s unfortunate vote in French parliament, 'When are we going to take Turkey’s story back from the orientalists?' she asked. It is a question that goes far deeper than today’s news of bad political stagecraft in Paris.

Our foreign desk chief here at Referans, Melis Şenerdem, captured the essential question the other day in the run-up to yesterday's unfortunate vote in French parliament, “When are we going to take Turkey's story back from the orientalists?” she asked. It is a question that goes far deeper than today's news of bad political stagecraft in Paris.

Such matters are not something I am ordinarily inclined to approach. I am not a historian. I am no expert on international politics. I enjoy no mastery of Ottoman history, or for that matter of the history of Franco-Turkish relations. How should Turkey react? I'll leave that question to others. But as a foreigner who has lived in Turkey for many years, and as a foreign newspaperman editing a newspaper in Turkish, I do have a perspective that was provoked by Melis' question.

When I travel abroad, or when foreign journalists show up wanting to chat, the questions are often revealingly odd. You can imagine: How did you learn to speak Arabic? How do you tell Turks and Kurds apart (this latter just two weeks ago from a French journalist). When it comes to matters of religion, trust me. You prefer not to know what the questions are like.

Colors lost to a tableau of black and white:
What it is difficult for foreigners to understand -- or what is difficult for me to explain -- is at the essence of my colleague's question. For the effort is always to understand Turkey in clear and black and white terms while this is a society of great ambiguities hued in gray. For the western press, Turkey's “story” is almost always framed around just five or perhaps six limited narratives. There is genocide, the Kurds, honor killings, Cyprus, Article 301 and, these days, rising anti-Americanism. Occasionally this basket of perennials will be refreshed with “the colorful Grand Bazaar” or something derivative. And that's about it. These are all legitimate, indeed critical issues. Yet they leave us with a portrait of Turkey that remains far smaller than the actual frame.

When it comes to the matter of news and the resulting matter of “image,” the public relations industry will divide the palette into “negative” or “positive” news. Most conversations about Turkey's international image ultimately revert to this form. To my mind, this is nothing more than an invitation to a war of propaganda. In place of a search for the “positive” my preference is for a search for completeness. This is what the dialogue lacks.

In my conversation with the team at Referans, my colleague struck on the term “orientalism.” This is of course the concept coined by the late intellectual and writer Edward Said. Said's consistent point in his work and writing, was that the East, at least as it is perceived and understood by the West, is in fact a creation of the West. Hence steps toward dialogue can only reach a dead end. Tone is hostage to the imperatives of black and white.

‘My name is Suleiman':
To the point of allegations of genocide, I am again without expertise. But in 1991 or 1992, when I was a reporter in Washington, a notice arrived at the bureau inviting me to a press event commemorating the events of 1915 at a downtown park -- Dupont Circle for those familiar with the city. The event was to follow a ceremony presenting medallions to five aging survivors of the alleged genocide and arrangements were such as to allow reporters to hear first-hand the account of eye witnesses. The configuration was akin to waiting in line for a bank teller. Reporters queued and then were escorted to the first available survivor at a folding table. When my turn came, I sat down with the first witness, a woman. She began by recounting Turkish brutality and told me how the “river ran red with the blood of Armenians.” She then allowed a few words in Turkish and proceeded to translate. To which I responded, “My dear aunt, if you like we can speak in Turkish.” Her story changed with the language and tears filled her eyes. “Oh you are a Turk,” she said. “We love the Turks. The Turks saved us.” As our conversation switched to Turkish, another witness at a nearby table cut off his interview to run to our table. He grabbed me and kissed me on both cheeks, declaring incongruously, “My son, my son, my name is Suleiman, I am circumcised.”

I failed to persuade them that I was, in fact, not a Turk. I'll save their stories and the events that ensued from this unscripted exchange for another column. What is important is the complexity, the tone, the nuance. For these two elderly witnesses to what happened in 1915 in fact bore two separate identities and carried two separate “stories” each told with sincerity. The media, and particularly the agenda-setting Western media, approach matters of ethnicity and identity as fixed, objective and concrete concepts. In fact, these are concepts that are fluid, subjective and often highly abstract. This is difficult to explain to my Western colleagues.

One newspaper, many languages:
From time to time, foreign journalists look me up in the routine search for sources and background. The drill is now routine. We go down to the cafeteria in the Hürriyet building and exchange pleasantries over lunch. After a half hour or so, they edge ever so gently to broach the “Kurdish question.” My response is always the same: “Don't listen to me, let's go back upstairs and you can talk to my Kurdish colleagues.” They seldom believe this even possible. At which point I like to note that if you poll the “native languages” spoken among our small newsroom staff, you will find speakers of Kurdish, Arabic, Armenian, Bulgarian and Russian. As the original version of this column was being edited, the editor putting my column on the page pointed out an omission in my count. He had grown up speaking Circassian. In Turkish this legacy of empire is simply assumed, it is unremarkable. But for the Western media, this is a reality entirely outside the paradigm of understanding.

Just this week I met an Austrian journalist for breakfast in Bebek. The conversation turned to the matter of “honor killings.” This is a story of extreme importance, in fact a matter of crisis proportions when we examine the rights of Turkish women. But there is also the reality that Europe's highest rates of female participation in the judiciary, in medicine, in engineering, in architecture and even among corporate boards of directors are not to be found in Sweden. Turkish women top this European list. Another shocking tone of gray amid the black and white.

True, surveys reflect rising “anti-Americanism” in Turkey. True, the movie “Valley of the Wolves” broke box office records. But let me share an anecdote as an American. Last year, I was invited to speak at the Sütçü İmam University in the eastern city of Kahramanmaraş. As I began to speak, a young woman leapt to her feet to declare, “I am anti-Bush, I am anti-American.” Her protest prompted the 300-plus students filling the auditorium to burst into applause. I was taken aback, to be sure. But the students let me finish, and we did not agree on everything. And then the students invited me to tea in the canteen. Later, the girl who staged the angry protest sent me an e-mail that included a lengthy critique of American foreign policy. This is how she concluded: “I want to thank you for letting me share what I feel inside and for your politeness at our conference. With my respects -- Melek, Department of History, Faculty of Science and Literature, K. Maraş Sütçü Imam Ünv.” Where else might one find this kind of “anti-Americanism?”

As I said at the outset, Turkey is a country of many dichotomies, of many levels, of great complexity. Melis is correct. Turkey has no simple “story.” And yesterday, we witnessed the result in France of this shallow and incomplete narrative that for so many defines a country. I am left without an answer to the question of my young colleagues as the newspaper Referans: “When are we going to take Turkey's story back from the orientalists?”

October 13, 2006
David Judson




These are major headliens and their summaries from Turkish newspapers on October 12
Liberty, equality, ‘stupidité'?
Hürriyet said yesterday that France's vote on a controversial bill criminalizing Armenian genocide claims would reveal how faithful it has remained to the principle of freedom, which has since the 1789 revolution been one of the country's most adhered values.

Turkish and French diplomatic observers both commented that a last minute withdrawal of the controversial bill would be "a great surprise,” Hürriyet reported. As general elections in France near, many French deputies are likely to vote for the bill in hopes of garnering votes from the powerful Armenian lobby in France. Meanwhile, business, government and civil society representatives from Turkey are lobbying against the "genocide denial" bill.

A democracy test for France:
Yeni Şafak yesterday covered a bill the French National Assembly was likely to vote on yesterday that the EU and Turkey have said would restrict freedom of speech on a historically contested issue.

Yeni Şafak said lawmakers in the French National Assembly were to take up a bill that criminalizes denial of an alleged genocide of Armenians after Turkey, as well as the European Union, warned that passage of such legislation would mean a concession on freedom of speech in one of the EU's founding countries.

Parliamentarians are divided but are still expected to back the proposed legislation, which foresees up to one year in prison and a 45,000-euro fine for denying charges that Armenians were subject to genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.

State Minister and EU Chief Negotiator Ali Babacan said developments in France were “distressing.” “This could fan anti-EU sentiment in Turkey. The European Union would be hurt by this attitude”.

“Such a thing should not even be thought of in a country where civilization and free thought has flourished,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Namık Tan.

Olli Rehn, the EU commissioner for enlargement, has already warned that passage of the bill may mean that people could “end up in prison in an EU member state” for expressing their views.

October 13, 2006
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News




All-out protest against France
Opposition, NGOs stand up against ‘genocide’ bill

A nationwide protest raged on yesterday against France, whose parliament adopted a controversial bill making it a crime to deny that Armenians were subjected to genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.

Different segments of society, from opposition parties to nongovernmental organizations, stood up against the passage of the bill. Leaders of the opposition parties issued written statements accusing France of rewriting history and ignoring freedom of expression.

Turkey's leading business groups, TÜSİAD and TOBB, also strongly condemned the French lawmakers' move to adopt the bill, which contradicts the spirit of Europeanness and democracy.

Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy Agah Kafkas, meanwhile, announced his resignation from the French caucus in the Turkish Parliament in protest of the adoption of the “genocide” bill.

October 13, 2006
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News




The EU 'stick' makes its 'carrot' less appealing
What I see happening in France, the Netherlands, Austria and, to a certain extent, Germany is the haste with which they are trying to slow down the quickening pace of Turkey's accession negotiations.

What I see happening in France, the Netherlands (which removed the names of Dutch candidates of Turkish origin from its electoral list due to their denial of the genocide allegations), Austria and, to a certain extent, Germany is the haste with which they are trying to slow down the quickening pace of Turkey's accession negotiations.

Independent of the validity and merits of the Cypriot and Armenian concerns, which flared up all of a sudden once again, certain groups opposed to Turkish accession have decided to deploy all the instruments and pretexts at their disposal. In France, the additional factor is the coming presidential election in which we reckon the not-so-numerous but influential Armenian diaspora votes would greatly matter. I believe that even if these issues become a thing of the past, others will follow.

A constructive engagement with Turkey in a spirit of partnership has worked wonders over the past few years, paving the way for extraordinary reforms, politically and economically. It has helped foreign and security policy approaches to converge. It has dissuaded the military from being proactive in politics and significantly improved the human rights record.

Now with the adoption of a "hostile," "poisonous," "Turkey-bashing" attitude on a number of fronts, I am afraid that the EU is losing the attraction of its "carrot," namely, eventual membership in the EU. As the "stick" seems to be the preferred instrument of "taming" Turkey, there is no question that this will harden the Turkish resolve to shy away from the "fictional" accession at the end of an "open-ended" process. Hard-liners are gaining ground again due to the ample ammunition provided by our European friends.

True or not, these developments will carve the image of Europe as a future "Disneyland" with a fast aging population, worn-out competitiveness in the world league, rigid regulations impairing creativity and productivity, a false sense of superiority over the rest of the world in the minds of the young generation. The call for Turkey to join hands with its regional neighbors and a rising Asia will be heard more often than hitherto. Whether it is in the interest of Turkey and the EU is another matter for discussion.

The adoption of this highly controversial bill is likely to create deeper implications than merely causing the traditional Turkish-French economic and political ties to deteriorate, as the proposed legislation has raised skepticism even among EU members and institutions over European values and the commitment of France.

For example, Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn called on French parliamentarians to "take responsibility" and to "take into account the possible outcome of the bill." He added that the bill in question was a problem of France and French lawmakers but stressed that it would have a serious impact on Turkish-EU relations instead of reviving dialogue between the two sides.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recently dismissed a tradeoff proposal offered by Nicolas Sarkozy under which he pledged to oppose the bill in return for Turkey opening its borders with Armenia, scrapping laws that forbid statements in favor of allegations that there was genocide and establishing a joint commission to study the issue. He argued that France was not in a position to preach to Turkey while its Parliament is preparing to adopt a bill punishing denial of the alleged genocide and free expression of opinion on a historically controversial matter.

There are also many in Turkey who are asking French parliamentarians to look in the mirror and face their own past. The French bill to criminalize denial of the alleged genocide will undoubtedly both weaken Turkish trust in the French commitment to European values and cause significant damage to political and economic relations with Paris. This will also enhance the hands of the growing tide of anti-EU nationalist groups in Turkey.

One objective it would not serve at all is to foster greater understanding between Turks and Armenians or achieve reconciliation over the tragic events of the early 20th century, which cost hundreds of thousands of innocent lives, Armenian, Kurdish, Turkish and Azeri alike.

To the contrary, if adopted, this bill would block debates over the Armenian genocide allegations in Turkey, a move that would harm Turkish steps in the area of freedom of expression and elsewhere as well as the ongoing bilateral efforts (which the diaspora hates hearing out of fear of losing its control in this matter) to heal old wounds.

As a friend of France and a believer in a strong Turkish-Armenian relationship (by virtue of geography, history and common affinities), I feel saddened to observe the uncertain direction we are heading for, which could at the end of the day reinforce those extremists in every country advocating a clash of civilizations.

October 13, 2006
Mehmet ÖĞÜTCÜ
PARIS - TDN Guest Writer




French Parliament moves ahead with making denial of 'genocide' a crime
French parliamentarians on Thursday approved a bill making it a crime to question the Armenian genocide claims, following a heated debate, but a silent vote, on the bill.

Deputies in the French Parliament voted 106-19 for the bill, which aims at introducing prison terms up to one year and fines up to 45,000 euros to those who question the controversial events of 1915. There was a low turn-out of deputies from the ruling UMP, which is known for its opposition to the approval of the bill.

The bill, which was introduced by the opposition Socialist Party (PS), must still be passed by the Senate and be signed by President Jacques Chirac to become law. However, analysts say that the ruling UMP government won't immediately bring the bill to the Senate floor. Analysts also added that although bringing the bill to the Senate could be postponed by the ruling party, there is no period of prescription for the bill which will drop it from the agenda.

The Armenian bill was approved without including amendment requests from UMP Deputy Patrik Deveciyan who suggested that studies by scholars and historians on the Armenian genocide claims shouldn't become subject to the law.

Colonna expresses govt's opposition
Speaking to Parliament ahead of the key vote on behalf of the government, European Affairs Minister Catherine Colonna, who wad once the spokeswoman of President Jacques Chirac, expressed the French government's opposition to the bill.

The French government expressed its opposition to the bill in May and has not changed its position since then, she said. "There are three reasons for this. First of all, in 2001 France recognized the Armenian 'genocide' in 1915. This was pointed out by the French president in Yerevan several weeks ago. We do not think a new one is necessary," Colonna said.

Citing the opposition of Turkish intellectuals to the bill, Colonna said that the present law risks creating adverse effects. "We have a strong friendship and alliance with Turkey, a tie that dates back centuries. Although we would like our Turkish friends to come to terms with their past, this demand should go parallel to friendship. Turkey has taken very courageous steps and its work should be allowed to continue. Let us be clear, many intellectuals in the country, who have themselves faced charges on the issue of the genocide, have called for this law not to be adopted. Are we better placed than they are to judge? This law risks destroying the fragile steps."

And, as the last point, she stressed that history should be written by historians, not by politicians, saying, "I repeat what has been said on this floor: History cannot be written through laws."

Besides Colonna, only two other deputies from the ruling UMP, Pierre Lequiller and Michel Piron, opposed the bill during their speeches.

The New Anatolian / Paris
13 October 2006




Deveciyan: Turkey has no lesson to teach us about repression of opinions
The UMP's Deveciyan, during his speech, both criticized the Turkish government and the European European Enlargement commissioner, saying that Turkey has no lesson to teach them
about repression of opinions.

Claiming that there is no freedom of expression in Turkey, Deveciyan stated that those who use the term "genocide" in Turkey are imprisoned under Article 301 of the new Turkish Penal Code (TCK).

He and other supporters of the bill taking the floor from the ruling and opposition parties used a protest by Turks in Lyon against the inauguration of an Armenian "genocide" monument as a justification for the need to approve the bill.

"Turkey has begun to export its policy of denial," said Deveciyan, claiming that the protests in Lyon were organized by the Turkish government. Deveciyan went on to claim that together with the decision of the Parliament, they don't want to write history but they are continuing to fulfill the needs of the law enacted in 2001, through which the French Parliament recognized the Armenian genocide claims.

Armenia accuses Turkey of massacring Armenians during World War I, when Armenia was under the Ottoman Empire. Turkey says Armenians were killed together with Turks in civil unrest during the collapse of the empire and in war conditions.

A similar bill was shelved in the spring amid pressure from Ankara. It was represented by the opposition Socialists.

Turkey supporters abruptly left the Parliament building after the vote without speaking to reporters. Outside, a few dozen protesters of Armenian descent celebrated.

Chirac, during a visit to Armenia last month, said the bill "is more of a polemic than of legal reality" but he also urged Turkey to recognize "the genocide of Armenians" in order to join the European Union. "Each country grows by acknowledging its dramas and errors of the past," Chirac said.




More than a train crash
What should we read into the Armenian bill facing the French Parliament this week? Should we react strongly, boycotting French products and even having our Parliament pass a counter-bill recognizing the French excesses in Algeria as "genocide"? Or alternatively, if it were withdrawn, should we celebrate our victory over France?

True, the bill is against the basic premises of freedom of expression. A historian or a lawyer who concluded, as the result of his or her research, that what happened in 1915-16 does not amount to genocide would have to be imprisoned and fined heavily. France is quick to leave the matter of Algerian massacres to a committee of historians and lawyers to deal with, but the French Parliament takes up the Armenian claims of genocide. It is a clear case of double standard and a hostile policy towards Turkey, one that would, if insisted upon, wreck the relationship between Ankara and Paris.

The problem, however, goes deeper. Before the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party initiated its pro-European Union policies with over-enthusiasm and vigor, only the French Parliament had adopted a bill recognizing Armenian genocide claims. Over the last few years, as the AKP pressed for full membership in the face of a totally unwilling Europe, many countries' parliaments recognized it. So even if the current bill were withdrawn, the fact remains that France and many others have accepted and recognized the so-called genocide. And if the French Parliament were to pass the new bill today, it is more likely than not that other European countries would follow suit.

Indeed, Armenian genocide bills have made it to almost all EU countries' parliaments over the last few years, from the ones where large or small Armenian communities reside, to ones where there is none at all. The oft-reiterated claims in the past in countries like France, home to a large, thriving Armenian community, that the matter becomes part of domestic politics during election campaign times are no longer convincing. For if this is so, in countries where there are sizeable Turkish-origin people holding EU passports, these bills would never have been even drafted.

The whole thing has a lot to do with the Turkish bid for full membership in the EU. It's clear that the EU members, or at least a number of them, don't want to see Turkey join. For them Turkey is too big and populous; its location, surrounded by difficult Middle Eastern neighbors, is too problematic and its culture too different, a term used to hide apparent racism. But instead of telling the real story, they keep putting one hurdle after another in Turkey's way. They are clearly trying to pester Turkey with demands that are in no way compatible with EU legislation. The expectation is that Ankara would in the end realize that there is no room for Turkey in the European community of nations, and that it would leave the negotiating table of its own choice.

As Denis MacShane, former British minister of Europe, put it rightly in the Financial Times, "Turkey wakes up almost every month to find a new hurdle on its path to Europe," and all this "goes beyond the bluster of bureaucrats in Brussels." On the one hand, we have Jose Manuel Barroso, head of the European Commission, who openly argues that EU enlargement should come to an end after Bulgaria and Romania become members, and on the other we have an elderly French president who visits Armenia and declares that Turkey should recognize an Armenian "genocide."

How do we explain all this? They are certainly not idle remarks that the rest of the EU takes no notice of. If anything, there seems to be a general consensus among very many members of the EU that Turkey's negotiations should be discontinued at whatever cost. But the EU side is shying away from saying this openly, citing all the fundamental problems in the accession of Turkey, and the incumbent government in Turkey, which has invested so dearly in the continuation of the EU process, is in no mood to see reason.

And these opposing attitudes are likely to cause enormous casualties in the relations between Turkey and the EU, whereas sober-minded people on both sides could counsel prudence and point to what is achievable and attainable, that is, a special status for Turkey with some flesh and bones on it. The more Turkey presses its bid for full membership, the more likely the EU is to come up with new demands, a process which is already producing huge amounts of combustible material of an anti-Western character in Turkey, and of an anti-Turkish and anti-Islamic character in Europe. And only "Turkish liberals" unable to see that the consequence will be more than a train crash are hopeful about this process, nobody else.

Hasan Unal
hasanu@bilkent.edu.tr
13 October 2006




Internationalizing French stupidity
The vote in the French Parliament had the expected result. There were 106 in favor and only 16 against penalizing all those who deny an Armenian "genocide." The only comfort we could take, though cynically, is that it cannot be enforced yet. It needs the approval of the French Senate and the signature of President Jacques Chirac, which doesn't seem likely in the face of growing disapproval on the European Union stage.

Nonetheless, the damage is done. Both to already troubled Turkish-European Union relations and to bilateral relations between Turkey and France. Now it's time for all concerned parties to limit the damage.

It is unthinkable to expect Turkey to sit idly by and behave as if nothing has happened. Not only that it is obliged to but that it should. After all, the French move is a counterattack by those Europeans who do not want to see Turkey on the road to EU accession. Therefore Turkish reaction is necessary as it should be considered a part of its struggle for its millennium-old European vocation.

The reaction should be limited to bilateral relations. The first and most reasonable step in this respect would be to reduce diplomatic relations and to demonstrate a lack of will in cooperating exclusively with France. The Turkish contingency in Lebanon should be reluctant to act under the French command of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). The issue should be brought outside the scope of myopic French domestic politics and be introduced into the realm of international politics where the security of the entire Western world is at stake and needs active Turkish contribution.

A few days ago, the former British Minister Minister of State for Europe Denis MacShane wrote in an op-ed piece in The Financial Times, "Europe is doing its level best to tell Turkey it is no longer wanted as part of the European Union. It is a high-risk game with little to gain and a great deal to lose." Turkey should indicate through concrete but reasonable steps what the EU and France would lose when confronted by stupid and unjustified moves.

MacShane, truthfully, underlined, "The Armenian massacres are a dreadful scar in the memory of that proud people, torn apart by the many wars and foreign interventions in the 20th century. But it was the decaying elements of the Ottoman Empire that killed the Armenians, not the modern Turkish Republic. If the EU is to demand apologies for historic misdeeds from its existing members, let alone potential members, then it may as well dissolve itself."

He concluded his op-ed piece with the following observation:

"Turkey's friends need to lead a diplomatic offensive to ensure the EU honors its obligations. Leaving Turkey turning on the spit of European debate -- roasted by condescension, ignorance and hostility -- will transform one of Europe's greatest assets into a source of conflict and tension. For good or ill Europe is now intervening in a region full of problems in Iran, Iraq and Israel-Palestine. Making an enemy of Turkey will make solving any of these problems far more difficult."

Consequently, Europe, and above all France itself that searching for a "small Europe" at the expense of leaving Turkey out, should feel the heat of its ill-intentioned decisions.

To have and to maintain the moral high ground, Turkey should mobilize its friends in Europe and also depend on the effective weight of U.S. diplomacy. It is less than two weeks since the U.S. president declared and emphasized his support for Turkey's accession in the EU that he said "because it is in the interests of the United States of America."

Turkey's greatest chance to formulate an effective diplomacy lies in further democratization. If it gets rid of those notorious penal code articles that penalize acknowledgement of an Armenian "genocide," a remnant of the stupid legislation voted on by the French Parliament, then it will gain real moral high ground. It has also to refrain from nationalist reactions.

The more Turkey is able to demonstrate that it is a responsible and international player, it will succeed in minimizing the damage done by French narrow-mindedness.

Cengiz Candar
ccandar@superonline.com
13 October 2006




Dutch Schools Pressure Turkish Students to Recognize Genocide
After three Turkish candidates were expelled from their political parties in the Netherlands for refusing to accept the Armenian genocide allegations, Dutch universities are pressuring Turkish students to accept the Armenian genocide.

Arman Sag, a student at the Utrecht University department of Turcology and a spokesman for Turkish students in the Netherlands, said they were facing obstacles for rejecting the genocide.

Sag said they had been called neo-Nazis by their teachers, noting: “Our education is being hindered here. There is freedom of thought. I did my research and found that Armenians had not been subject to genocide. This is my opinion and nobody can accuse me of this. We will always support freedom of thought. We condemn anti-Turkish prejudice. Such incidences attempt to invoke enmity against Turks.”

Law student Gamze Arikan called the move an attack on human rights, while Tilburg University student Fatih Kulaksizoglu said: “We condemn antidemocratic policies imposed on us. We will never recognize the Armenian genocide.”

Another Turkish student, Guven Alkilic, expressed that the Turkish community had been deeply disappointed by the dismissal of Turkish candidates from their parties.

“By expelling Turkish candidates, Dutch political parties have not only attacked Turkish society’s freedom of thought and expression but also democracy. This move implies that they favor puppet MPs that will approve whatever they say.”

By Basri Dogan, Amsterdam
October 13, 2006
zaman.com




Brussels Concerned; ‘Decision Foolish & un-European’
Brussels has been deeply troubled by the approval of the French bill making it illegal to deny the alleged Armenian genocide despite warnings from the European Union and the European Parliament (EP).

The EU Commission has declared that the passing of the bill will not be a factor in Turkey’s EU accession negotiation efforts.

Remarking that the bill had not yet become law, the EU Commission emphasized the significance of leaving the matter to be discussed by historians and researchers.

While negative reactions from EP members continue, one of the harshest criticisms came from Joost Lagendijk, chairman of European Union-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Commission, whose description of the bill was “foolish and far from belonging to Europe.”

Andrew Duff, the English member of the EP for East England, told the French assembly, “You have made Voltaire turn in his grave!”

Duff also said the European Court of Human Rights must be ready to oversee the matter in case it became law.

Camiel Eurlings, the Turkey reporter of the EP, noted that France’s decision to cut down on freedom of speech had made things more difficult for Turkey, especially at a time when it was trying to establish freedom of speech and thought.

Eurlings further noted that “Politicians cannot write history; let’s leave this to historians.”

Krisztina Nagy, the spokeswoman for EU Commissioner Olli Rehn, said, "In the case this bill becomes a law, it would prevent the dialogue and debate that are necessary for reconciliation," and highlighted that the recognition of “genocide” is not a Copenhagen criterion.

Asked if the decision would be included in Turkey’s EU accession progress report to be unveiled on Nov. 9, Nagy said that the two subjects aren’t related to one another.

When Zaman asked if France’s decision contradict the European Union, which has been pressing Turkey for freedom of speech, Nagy simply stressed that the matter should be left to historians and researchers.

By Selcuk Gultasli, Brussels
October 13, 2006
zaman.com




Turkish Businessmen Boycott French Companies
The passing of the controversial Armenian genocide denial bill in the French parliament has prompted strong reactions in Turkish business circles.

Several businessmen announced they would suspend business partnerships with French companies.

However, no reaction came from Turkey’s Army Pension Fund (OYAK), which is a partner with French giants in the steel, automotive and insurance industries.

Associations Also Call for Boycott

Omer Bolat, chairman of the Independent Industrialists and Businessmen's Association (MUSIAD), said the law penalizing the denial of the alleged Armenian genocide passed by the French parliament aimed at obstructing Turkey’s accession to the European Union and called for the commercial boycott against France to be a long-term and collective one.

MUSIAD called its members to stop commercial relationships with French companies.

Erhan Ozmen, the chairman of Turkish Young Businessmen Confederation, thinks the passing of the law will have permanent effects on the relationship between the two countries.

However, Ozmen said boycotts and embargos would damage Turkey as much as France, and added that the $5 million French capital in Turkey should not be forgotten.

The Economic Development Foundation also thinks France will correct its “mistake.”

Milsoft, a leading software company in Turkey’s defense industry, decided not to join the Euronaval 2006, an international fair on defense, to be held in Paris in the upcoming weeks.

Two Turkish companies applied for participation in Euronaval, one of the world’s leading naval armament fairs.

However, Yonca-Onuk, a comopany well-known for its Kaan-class fast-patrol boats, is joining the fair.

“We must show a joint reaction against this unlucky and biased decision. Therefore, we decided not to join the fair,” Milsoft Marketing Director Cem Koc said.

Yonca-Onuk’s boss Ekber Onuk does not agree with Koc.

“We have been taking part in this fair for the last four or five years. There will be a gap unless we join it this year. This gap in the defense industry will negatively affect our company and our country. We should be there for the Turkish defense industry,” Onuk said.

Currently in Brussels, Turkish State Minister Ali Babacan said, “As Turkey supports freedom of thought and expression, France’s decision to restrict the freedom of thought is contrary to the European Union’s basic values.”

Babacan added that the decision made by the French parliament did not represent the majority of France. “We will continue with the reform process in the same way. We will take steps to set a good example for our own people, for the rest of the EU member countries and for neighboring states.”

As OYAK keeps silent on the law penalizing the denial of the alleged Armenian genocide, several Turkish businessmen are withdrawing their orders from France.

Agaoglu Insaat, a leading company in the construction industry, cancelled its agreement with the French company Carrefour to open a supermarket in its MyCountry project in Cekmekoy Istanbul.

Businessman Turgay Ciner, owner of Sabah Daily and channel ATV, suspended the order of an airplane from France as a reaction against the genocide bill.

Clup Irem Tour owner Saadettin Ulubay suspended a helicopter order from a French company.

Ulubay said they had concerns about the cancellation of reservation in tours to France during the Ramadan holiday.

Some French companies operating in Turkey include Total, Elf, Carrefour, Danone, Tefal, Michelin, Renault, Peugeot, Citroen, Lacoste, L'Oreal, Lancome, Christian Dior, Avon, Onduline, Lafarge, Chryso, Air France, BIC, Cartier, Sheaffer, Le coq sportif, Alcatel, AXA, Gunes Insurance, Basak Insurance, Basak Emeklilik Societe General Bank, Turkish Economy Bank, Sanofi and Servier.

TUSIAD: Let us Reply with Reforms

TUSIAD called the French bill “a big mistake.”

“A proper reply to be given to France would be to accelerate political reforms to include freedom of expression particularly and proceed toward our goal of full [EU] membership as a country holding memberships talks with the European Union,” the association stated.

TOBB: They won’t be Invited for Bids

Rifat Hisarciklioglu, chairman for the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB), said public administrations in Turkey would not invite French companies to bids after the passing of the bill.

“The French National Parliament made a mistake. Responsibility for this process falls on it,” Hisarciklioglu said. The TOBB chairman thinks France failed in the test of law and conscience and described the developments as a black page in its history.

By Isa Sezen, Istanbul
October 13, 2006
zaman.com




Armenian Bill’s Passage Depends on Government
Although the French parliament has approved a bill making it a crime to deny the mass killings of Armenians in Turkey during World War I, the Senate will also have to ratify it before the bill becomes law.

But for it to become an item on the agenda of the Senate, the bill must be approved by the government, which seems very unlikely as President Jacques Chirac does not look favorably on the bill.

If the present government refuses to endorse the bill, Francois Holland, secretary-general of the opposition Socialist Party, has vowed to make the bill a law in 2007 if they are in power.

Meanwhile, Armenians are pressing for the bill to make it to the Senate before the legislative period ends.

There are three ways a bill that has passed in the French parliament can appear on the agenda of the Senate.

The first is if the government approves and sends it to the Senate.

The second is if the Presidential Board of the Senate calls for a motion.

First Opportunity on Nov.8

The Socialist Party will make a request for the bill to be on the agenda of the Nov.8 meeting of the board.

But since the party in power occupies the majority of the chairs in the Senate Board, the government must also endorse the bill.

The third way to make a bill an agenda item is by demanding an emergency debate.

This demand can only be made by the Commission of Legal Affairs, which is at the receiving end of the bill.

Parallel to the majority arithmetic of the Senate, the government party has the final say in commissions, making it a difficult task for the bill to become an agenda item in the upcoming term.

Armenians Focus on Elections

Patrik Devedjian, an Armenian-origin deputy who spoke to Zaman, said that it was difficult for the bill to become law during the present legislative period and could be postponed until next year.

The French Assembly will finish its work early in February because of the presidential and general elections to be held in the spring.

Alexis Govdjian, president of the Council of Armenian Associations, noted that they would make attempts in the upcoming days to put the bill on the agenda of the Senate before the elections.

Referring to the genocide law passed in 2001, he promised to exert as much effort on this bill.

The bill needs to be endorsed by the Senate without any amendments.

If a motion for a change regarding the text is made, it will be sent back to the parliament.

The president, the final authority, can send the bill to the Constitutional Court or the parliament if necessary.

After the endorsement by the Senate, the president of the parliament, along with 60 senators apart from the president, can submit the bill to the Constitutional Court.

By Ali Ihsan Aydin, Paris
October 13, 2006
zaman.com




‘Government not to Back Boycott of French Goods’
Referring to the adoption of a bill penalizing the denial of the so called Armenian genocide in France, Turkey's Chief EU Negotiator Ali Babacan said on Thursday that the government would not encourage a boycott of French goods; adding that it was up to the Turkish public.

"As the government of Turkey, we are not encouraging something like that. But the decision is up to the people", he remarked in Brussels where he has been as part of his Europe tour.

"It will definitely cause some backlash in the Turkish society", Babacan went on to say, adding that the controversial draft law was not in line with the core values of the EU.

By Cihan News Agency
October 13, 2006
zaman.com




‘France has Ruined Historical Prestige for Sake of Votes’
The French Parliament has shown that it is in pursuit of simple policies and France has ruined all its historical prestige for the sake of votes, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul told reporters on Thursday afternoon.

Turkish government and NGOs have continued to protest the highly controversial French bill on the so-called Armenian genocide, which was passed in the French Parliament on Thursday.

FM Abdullah Gul criticized the adoption of the bill penalizing the denial of the so-called Armenian genocide. "This will be an unforgettable shame on France. From now on, France will never be able to describe itself as a country of freedoms", FM Gul remarked during a press briefing held following his meeting with visiting Afghan Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta.

Gul underlined that the bill struck a heavy blow on Turkish-French relations and seriously damaged the credibility of France as a European Union (EU) member which defends freedom of expression.

"The parliament will meet on Tuesday with a special agenda and no doubt we have measures to take in every field", Gul added, urging that no one should harbor the conviction that Turkey will handle the bill lightly.

Gul also assured that Turkey took this as a national issue. "Certainly our reaction both at the official and public level will be very big," Gul said implying possible boycotts on French products.

Meanwhile, protesters in Ankara, the capital city of Turkey, egged the French Embassy, and in Istanbul demonstrators marched down Istiklal Avenue in Beyoglu district, laying a black wreath at the gates of the French Consulate.

Despite huge reactions and warnings from the Turkish government and public, the French National Assembly, the lower house of the Parliament, on Thursday adopted the much-debated bill, which stipulates up to one year in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros for anyone who denies the so-called Armenian genocide during World War I.

By Cihan News Agency
October 13, 2006
zaman.com




Parliament to Hold Special Session on Tuesday
The Turkish Parliament is set to convene on Tuesday for a special session to discuss the controversial French bill that makes it a crime to deny the so-called Armenian genocide.

This will be the first session of the Turkish parliament following the adoption of the bill on Thursday by the French National Assembly, the lower house of the French Parliament.

Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul will inform the Turkish lawmakers regarding the process of the bill. Opposition party leaders are also expected to deliver speeches about the issue.

A joint declaration of all political parties in the parliament condemning the French Parliament is planned to be issued following the debates. A draft text prepared for such a declaration has already been sent to the parties represented in the parliament.

By Cihan News Agency
October 13, 2006
zaman.com




An Irony of Fate
This is an irony of fate. Orhan Pamuk, who was tried for saying “30,000 Kurds and one million Armenians were killed in these lands,” was awarded the Nobel literature prize on the same day the Armenian genocide bill was passed by the French parliament.

These two points are being linked in every comment about the issue. Pamuk, who gained a considerable number of enemies with his statement, is bound to hear comments that if somebody curses Turkey like he did, that person will also get a prize.

A big “Armenian shadow” will be cast over this prize. In all likelihood, Pamuk himself is not happy with such a coincidence, either.

If all these things had not happened, such as Pamuk saying such big words, the subsequent controversy and the Nobel prize being announced right after the bill penalizing those who deny the purported Armenian genocide, we would now be talking about Pamuk’s words, his literary competence and about the doors this prize would open for Turkish literature.

However, whether desired or not, his words will follow him like a shadow and some will regard the Nobel prize as an award for Pamuk’s words and behaviors that ‘offended’ Turkey and the Turkish people.

Aside from all these discussions, Orhan Pamuk is Turkey’s most well-known novelist.

His “opposing” attitude and “discourse” certainly play a part in his worldwide fame.

As a matter of fact, it is no longer an author’s works that make him famous in today’s world, just as it is not only “literary competence” that influences the Swedish Academy’s decision who receives the Nobel prize.

All these will cause endless conflicts in both literary and political circles.

However, the truth despite all is that Pamuk has been awarded the Nobel Literature Prize in 2006. It is impossible to deny or ignore this.

Political conflicts, even crucial social events, may be forgotten with time but literature has an ability to resist time. Even though the Nobel Prize always causes controversy and it is claimed to be given for political reasons, it is the most respectable literature prize in the world.

None of today’s conflicts will be remembered within a 100 years’ time but Orhan Pamuk, a Turkish novelist’s name will remain in the list of the Nobel literature prize.

If we leave all conflicts, praises and criticisms alone, Pamuk’s Nobel Prize will increase his worldwide fame as well as the interest in the Turkish literature. It can also be said that Pamuk will serve as an impulsive force in Turkish literature’s project of opening up to the outer world.

October 13, 2006
zaman.com




'The Prize will not Change me and my Works'
Holding a press conference in New York yesterday, Pamuk stated the prize was given not only to him but also to the Turkish language, Turkish culture and Turkey and said he was very happy and proud of this.

Reminding the reporters that this was the first time Turkey was awarded a Nobel prize, Pamuk said “I am very happy, at least, for this reason.”

Speaking at the library of Columbia University's Center on Global Thought where he teaches as a guest lecturer, Pamuk said he wrote The Black Book in the small rooms of this university 22 years ago.

“I am happy to receive the news on the prize at the same university,” Pamuk said, adding the award wouldn’t change him or his work.

Stating he found out the news upon a phone call at midnight, Pamuk said, “The Swedish Academy of Sciences chairman called me. He said I was awarded the prize and asked whether I would take it. I said I would take it. Claims that I would decline it are baseless.”

Emrah Ulker, New York




‘Adoption of French bill not to Harm Turkey's EU bid’
Adoption of a French bill, which will penalize anyone who denies the so-called Armenian genocide, will not affect Turkey's European Union (EU) membership, a senior European Union (EU) official said.

The EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero Waldner told on Friday in an interview with Finnish public television YLE that the issue of the Armenian genocide has come up from time to time in France since there is a strong (Armenian) community in the country.

Waldner assured that what happened in France and how they treat candidate countries of EU were completely two different things.

By Cihan News Agency
October 13, 2006
zaman.com




Holland wants puppet deputy
Turks living in Holland organized a marching to support the three candidates who were excluded from the voting list as they did not recognize Armenian genocide. The chairman of Turkish platform spoke harshly about the Dutch politicians.

The count down for the general elections in Holand on November 22 is going on. Turkish citizens living in Holand protested the Christian Democrat Party which removed three Turkish candidates from the elections list as they did not recognize the Armenian genocide. The chairman of Turkish Platform in Lahey, Güven Alkılıç, said that: "removing these three candidates from the list is against democracy, freedom of opinion and expression. By taking such a stand, you demand deputies who would say yes to everything you say without questioning, you demand puppet deputies."

Sabah




'Buried Under The Ashes of a Ruined Empire'
From "Istanbul: Memories and the City," by Orhan Pamuk, translated by Maureen Freely.

Conrad, Nabokov, Naipaul -- these are writers known for having managed to migrate between languages, cultures, countries, continents, even civilizations. Their imaginations were fed by exile, a nourishment drawn not through roots but through rootlessness. My imagination, however, requires that I stay in the same city, on the same street, in the same house, gazing at the same view. Istanbul's fate is my fate. I am attached to this city because it has made me who I am.

Gustave Flaubert, who visited Istanbul 102 years before my birth, was struck by the variety of life in its teeming streets; in one of his letters he predicted that in a century's time it would be the capital of the world. The reverse came true: After the Ottoman Empire collapsed, the world almost forgot that Istanbul existed. The city into which I was born was poorer, shabbier, and more isolated than it had ever been before in its two-thousand-year history. For me it has always been a city of ruins and of end-of-empire melancholy. I've spent my life either battling with this melancholy or (like all Istanbullus) making it my own.

At least once in a lifetime, self-reflection leads us to examine the circumstances of our birth. Why were we born in this particular corner of the world, on this particular date? These families into which we were born, these countries and cities to which the lottery of life has assigned us -- they expect love from us, and in the end we do love them from the bottom of our hearts; but did we perhaps deserve better?

I sometimes think myself unlucky to have been born in an aging and impoverished city buried under the ashes of a ruined empire. But a voice inside me always insists this was really a piece of luck. If it is a matter of wealth, I can certainly count myself fortunate to have been born into an affluent family at a time when the city was at its lowest ebb (though some have ably argued the contrary). Mostly, I am disinclined to complain; I've accepted the city into which I was born in the same way that I've accepted my body (much as I would have preferred to be more handsome and better built) and my gender (even though I still ask myself, naively, whether I might been better off had I been born a woman). This is my fate, and there's no sense arguing with it.
© 2006 The Washington Post Company




EUROPE’S PATRONIZING ATTITUDE TOWARD TURKS CAN PUSH ANKARA CLOSER TO MOSCOW
Turkey’s prospects of becoming a full-blown member of the European Union are again seriously endangered -- this time by a fierce row with France over the “Armenian genocide” bill. According to analysts, the West’s continuous snubbing of the Turks could result in Ankara’s moving strategically closer to Moscow.

On October 12, France’s National Assembly approved a bill making it a crime to deny that the mass slaughter of Armenians in the final years of the Ottoman Empire was genocide. The Socialist-backed legislation, which gained support from right-wing assembly members, stipulates that anyone denying that genocide took place will be jailed for up to five years. (France recognized the killings of Armenians as genocide in 2001, but that bill did not provide for any criminal penalties for denying genocide.)

The Turkish government adamantly denies any accusations of genocide, insisting that hundreds of thousands of Turks and Armenians died in civil strife that was merely a part of the larger World War I conflict.

The French vote caused a wave of indignation in Turkey with thousands of protesters marching in Istanbul and the country’s parliamentary speaker calling the vote a “shameful decision.” There have been calls across the country to retaliate by starting a boycott of French goods.

Although both the French Foreign Ministry and the European Commission distanced themselves from the bill and called it “unhelpful,” most Turks believe they are purposefully discriminated against by the Europeans, who do not want to see Turkey in the EU and thus put ever-new hurdles on Ankara’s European path. The French vote came two weeks after the European Parliament issued a report calling on Turkey to acknowledge the Armenian killings as “genocide.” Last week, French President Jacques Chirac suggested, while visiting Yerevan, that recognition of “genocide” against the Armenians should be a precondition of EU entry. And the leading French presidential hopeful, Nicolas Sarkozy, a long-time opponent of Turkish entry into Europe, raised the stakes further by saying that even if Ankara admitted genocide, that change should not guarantee it EU entry.

The mishandling of the “Turkish question” could prove too costly for Europe’s strategic interests, a number of the Western and Turkish analysts warn.

First, the rebuffs of Ankara’s European ambitions undermine support for the pro-EU forces in Turkey’s domestic politics, as a growing number of the country’s policymakers and experts begin to doubt Europe’s intention to negotiate Turkey’s accession seriously. Some Turkish observers note that with the growing frictions between the West and the Muslim world, the Turkish political discourse has come to be dominated by Islamic considerations. As a result, more Turks tend to view their country and the world around it exclusively through a religious prism -- a trend that leads to the perceived dichotomy between Turkey and the West. According to recent opinion polls, almost half of the Turks think that Turkey does not belong in the EU because it is predominantly Muslim. At the same time, an increasing number of Turks appear to feel stronger affinity with other Muslim peoples in the Middle East -- a development that results in public demands to establish closer ties with neighboring countries such as Syria and Iran. The rise of the ruling Islamist-leaning Justice and Development Party, which rests on resurgent Islam, and the U.S. invasion of Iraq, which is severely condemned by the Turkish public, “created strong feelings of solidarity between Turkey and its Muslim neighbors,” a recent policy paper suggests.

Second, Europe cannot take Ankara’s loyalty for granted because Turkey has strategic alternatives. One such alternative, notes Denis MacShane, Britain’s former Europe minister, in a Financial Times commentary, is that “it can create a Black Sea alliance with Vladimir Putin’s increasingly authoritarian Russia.”

Many Turkish analysts consider the Kremlin’s more assertive policy in the Middle East as a positive development rather than as a potential threat. Ankara sees Moscow, which seeks to take a more independent line in the region and is keen to dispel the image of being Washington’s junior partner, as a useful counterbalance to what the Turks perceive as dangerously destabilizing U.S. policies. Both Russian and Turkish experts note the affinity of Ankara’s and Moscow’s positions regarding Middle East issues. “In the final analysis, Turkey’s views are different from the West and closer to Russia,” one influential Turkish analyst argues.

Similarly, both Ankara and Moscow share a pronounced bias in favor of preserving the status quo in the Black Sea and Caucasus region. The U.S. and EU policies of “spreading democracy” make both Turkey and Russia jittery. Their outlooks on the West’s democratic proselytizing are almost identical: reform and change should come as a result of the countries’ internal dynamics; no external influence should be allowed.

(Turkish Daily News, New Anatolian, October 13; RFE/RL, October 12; Financial Times, October 11)
By Igor Torbakov
October 13, 2006




Denial and bad law
French MPs vote to make it a crime to deny that a genocide took place in Armenia in 1915, provoking anger in Turkey and raising doubts about freedom of speech

“I DON’T like what you say, and I will jail you for saying it”. That inversion of the definition of free speech commonly attributed to Voltaire sounds so unappetising that it is hard to see why anyone should support it. But that is just what is happening. The lower house of the French parliament voted on Thursday October 12th to make it a criminal offence to deny what is commonly called the “Armenian genocide” of 1915.

Many Armenians, especially in the wealthy and well-connected diaspora, feel that until Turkey relaxes its stance on what they call the genocide of 1.5m compatriots, negotiations on its membership of the European Union (EU) should be blocked (Turkey denies a genocide took place). Many in the diaspora, especially in France, also want it to be a crime for anyone to claim that a genocide did not occur. There is a precedent: denial of the Nazi Holocaust is illegal in a dozen European countries. Armenians say recognition for their historical suffering should be protected in the same way. Though many countries’ parliaments have voted to recognise the Armenian genocide, few have gone further.

The French government, mindful of its ties with Turkey, is calling the vote “unnecessary and untimely” and is trying to make sure that it remains symbolic. To become law, the bill needs the backing of both the upper house of parliament and the president. But the vote has already prompted fury in Turkey, where discussion of the issue is seen as a hypocritical Western ploy, manipulated by Turkey’s enemies abroad. Yet the very discussion of what happened in 1915 is fraught with legal difficulties within Turkey. Writers and scholars who raise the matter are prosecuted, and sometimes imprisoned. One of these writers, Orhan Pamuk, who had faced trial in December for talking about the deaths of the Armenians, was awarded the Nobel prize for literature on October 12th.

Many Turks recognise that hundreds of thousands of Armenians died during “relocation” to other parts of the then Ottoman empire in 1915, but they argue that this was not a deliberate policy of mass murder, and that the deaths took place in a context of internal rebellion and inter-communal warfare. One problem is that the archives concerned are not easily accessible. They are written in archaic Ottoman Turkish, using the Arabic script, rather than the Latin alphabet introduced by the Turkish republic’s founder, Kemal Ataturk. Allowing the production of a scholarly and accessible edition of the relevant files would be a big step forward—but for many nationalist Turks even that would be an unwelcome move towards their critics.

Turkish officials doubt this issue will affect negotiations for EU membership (Cyprus is a far more serious concern). But the country is trying to counter-attack in the propaganda war. Turkish deputies want to introduce a law making it a crime to deny that the French committed genocide in Algeria. That seems a big stretch: France conducted a brutal colonial war, but no reputable scholar argues that its aim was the mass extinction or expulsion of an entire ethnic group.

The bigger question is whether laws on Holocaust or genocide denial are a good thing in principle. Most of the countries which forbid it were Nazi-occupied, or Nazi allies, during the second world war. They generally passed the laws in the early years of post-war democracy, typically along with bans on Nazi symbols, songs and regalia. That may have been justifiable when a clean break with the past was vital; it seems less so today.

Many scholars are convinced that making it a crime to deny the Holocaust is a mistake. Fines and jail sentences create martyrs; they do not deter those who hold outlandish views. The proposed law in France, for example, sets a one-year prison term and €45,000 ($56,570) fine, the same punishment as for denying the Nazi genocide. Enforcing that against the thousands of Turks living in France for whom denying the Armenian genocide is part of national identity, would be all but impossible. Passing unenforceable laws looks like gesture politics, rather than good jurisprudence.

Oct 12th 2006
From Economist.com




Events in Arts, Politics Highlight Turkey's Tangled Ties to Europe
As Nobel Goes to Turk, France Takes Up Armenian Genocide


PARIS, Oct. 12 -- The complex relationship between Turkey and Europe played out Thursday in two European capitals, as Turkey's leading novelist was awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize in literature in Stockholm and French lawmakers here passed a bill that would make it a crime to deny that Ottoman Turkey committed genocide against Armenians during and after World War I.

The hotly disputed issue of genocide against the Armenians was bound to explode when Orhan Pamuk -- who has complained that Turkey has refused to admit that as many as 1.5 million Armenians were massacred beginning in 1915 -- became the first Turkish writer to win the Nobel. But the nearly simultaneous vote by France's National Assembly added a political sting that could damage relations between France and Turkey and further weaken Turkey's bid for membership in the European Union.

Orhan Pamuk, the first Turkish writer to win the Nobel Prize, enters a news conference at Columbia University in New York. Pamuk has criticized Turkey for refusing to admit to the massacre of as many as 1.5 million Armenians beginning in 1915. (By Spencer Platt -- Getty Images)

The French bill, approved 106 to 19, provides for up to one year in jail and a fine of about $57,600 for anyone who denies that genocide occurred. The measure faces several hurdles before becoming law.

Turkey acknowledges the deaths of tens of thousands of Armenians from 1915 to 1923 but says they occurred in clashes after the Armenians allied themselves with Russian forces invading the collapsing Ottoman Empire. Although independent scholars generally agree that genocide occurred, the Turkish government has long denied it.

Pamuk was charged last year with "public denigrating of Turkish identity" after telling a Swiss newspaper that Turkey was unwilling to confront the darkest chapters of its past. "Thirty thousand Kurds and 1 million Armenians were killed in these lands, and nobody but me dares to talk about it," he said in the interview.

People opposed to E.U. membership for Turkey used Pamuk's ensuing trial to attack the country's human rights record. Charges against him were dropped in January on a technicality.

Although Turkish artists and writers said Pamuk's selection for the Nobel award signaled the emergence of Turkish literature as a genre, several commentators and analysts said that in awarding the prize to Pamuk, the Swedish Academy was clearly motivated by a political agenda to highlight Turkey's human rights record.

"I think there's a political message," said Charles Grant, head of the Center for European Reform in London. "Pamuk is not popular even with the educated, liberal intelligentsia in Turkey, where there is a view that he is out of touch with his Turkish roots. And this is not going to make him any more popular."

But the head of the Swedish Academy, Horace Engdahl, denied political motives. "We are not interested in that," Engdahl told reporters. "He is a controversial person in his own country, but on the other hand, so are almost all of our prizewinners."

In France, which is home to about 500,000 ethnic Armenians, the legislation passed Thursday reflected continuing apprehension over possibly admitting Turkey to the European Union. Concerns that Turkey is too big, too poor and too Muslim to join the 25-nation bloc were largely to blame for the rejection of the proposed E.U. constitution by voters in France and the Netherlands last year.

Turks bristled at the new French legislation, with a group of lawmakers in Ankara retaliating by proposing an "Algerian genocide" law to highlight the killings of Algerians under French colonial rule. That bill was withdrawn, with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan telling lawmakers, "We do not clean filth with filth."

In a statement, Turkey's Foreign Ministry said that Turkish-French relations "have been dealt a heavy blow as a result of the irresponsible behavior of a group of French politicians who are incapable of comprehending the result of their policies."

"I think the French Parliament is absolutely ridiculous to pass a law about Armenian massacres," said Grant, of the Center for European Reform. "So many massacres have been carried out by so many people throughout history that to pass a law about one and not the others . . . is infantile."

The bill must clear the French Senate and be signed by President Jacques Chirac to become law.

Although Chirac said recently that Turkey should acknowledge the mass killing of Armenians as genocide before joining the E.U., he also said the genocide bill was more of a "polemic" than a "legal reality," raising the question of whether he would sign it.

A French Foreign Ministry spokesman said Thursday that the bill "doesn't seem necessary," while France's minister for European affairs, Catherine Colonna, said that the government did not favor the bill because "it is not for the law to write history."

By John Ward Anderson
Washington Post Foreign Service
October 13, 2006




Turkey studying retaliatory measures against France
ANKARA (Reuters) - Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday Turkey was studying retaliatory measures against France following approval of a law making it a crime to deny Armenians suffered genocide at the hands of Ottoman Turks.

"Turkey's foreign trade volume with France is $10 billion (5.4 billion pounds) and this is equal to 1.5 percent of France's whole foreign trade volume. We're going to make the proper calculations and then take necessary steps," Erdogan said in a speech.

He did not elaborate, but said the centre-right government would take measures within Turkey and abroad.

But the ruling AK Party, facing a rise in nationalism ahead of next year's parliamentary elections, must tread a careful line not to damage its success at bringing political and economic stability to the Muslim country seeking EU membership.

France's lower house of parliament voted for the bill on Thursday, despite warnings from French firms that it would create repercussions for their business in Turkey, a fast-growing market which imported 4.7 billion euros' worth of French goods in 2005.

"There are no real threats in current trade, though perhaps (there could be) with some big contracts," a French Foreign Ministry spokesman told reporters at a regular briefing in Paris.

The bill still needs approval from the upper house, the Senate, and President Jacques Chirac to take effect.

Turkey denies claims that Armenians suffered genocide in Turkey during World War One, arguing that large numbers of both Muslim Turks and Christian Armenians died in a partisan conflict that accompanied the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

BOYCOTT CALLS
Hundreds of French firms such as Renault and Carrefour have large investments in Turkey, employing thousands of Turkish workers. This week Turkish consumer groups and some trade unions called for boycotts of French products.

The Turkish Consumers Union called on its members to begin boycotting French products, starting on Friday with energy group Total.

"The boycott will continue increasingly until the law on the so-called Armenian genocide is annulled," the union's chairman Bulent Deniz said in a press release.

But economists questioned the effectiveness of a boycott on France as Turkey accounts for only 1.3 percent of France's exports.

Past Turkish calls for boycotts against other countries had an effect only for a short time.

Big Turkish business have largely opposed a boycott and Economy Minister Ali Babacan said on Thursday the government would not encourage it either.

The controversy over an alleged genocide goes to the heart of modern Turkey which is struggling to push through EU-inspired reform which often clash with its own history and customs.

Many Turks also see the genocide vote as a way for the European Union to keep Muslim Turkey out of the 25-member club.

"In my view the new law is likely to be counterproductive," EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said in Helsinki.

"We don't achieve real dialogue and real conciliation through ultimatums. It will have a negative impact on Turkey coming to terms with its past," Rehn said.

(Additional reporting by Brian Rohan in Paris and Tarmo Virki in Helsinki)

By Paul de Bendern
(c) Reuters 2006. All rights reserved.




Turkish anger at French genocide law
Turkey has responded angrily to the approval of a new French law making it a crime to deny of the Armenian genocide by Turkish soldiers in WWI a crime.

Thursday’s vote in the French parliament was relayed by several Turkish TV channels, and provoked a wave of anti-French sentiment, including calls for sanctions.

Prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the decision “a lapse of reason,” while one foreign ministry official told Le Figaro that “Franco-Turkish relations have been damaged by these false and irresponsible claims by French politicians who do not see the consequences of their actions”.

And the irony of the situation was not lost on the Turks. “At a time when Turkey is under pressure over freedom of expression, the adoption of this text is decidedly two-faced,” the official said.

The paper adds that the financial cost of the move could also be considerable, with €2bn military contracts and a €4bn contract to build three nuclear power stations under threat.

The French government, which has distanced itself from the proposal put forward by the centre-left opposition, will now face the difficult task of keeping diplomatic channels open with Ankara.

Europe minister Catherine Colonna told Libération that the law “risked having the opposite effect to that desired” since Turkey’s willingness to accept its role in the genocide was still relatively fresh, and could easily be damaged.

The move has also isolated France on the European stage. Libération cites UK Liberal MEP Andrew Duff, head of the delegation for Turkey, as saying that “Voltaire must be spinning in his grave”.

Meanwhile, one of the most outspoken critics of Ankara, the author Orhan Pamuk, was awarded the Nobel prize for literature yesterday.

Pamuk was put on trial last year for denigrating Turkey in one of his novels, and has himself been a critic of the Turkish attitude to the genocide.




Turkish press gets harsh with France
Ankara - Turkish press on Thursday harshly criticised France ahead of a vote on a bill on the World War I massacres of Armenians, with one newspaper ridiculing the draft as "stupid".

In a mockery of the famous motto of the French revolution, the mass-circulation Hurriyet ran the following headline in French:

"Liberty, equality and stupidity".
"France... is voting on a stupid draft law which dynamites the foundation of freedom," it said.

The French national assembly could vote on Thursday on the bill, which provides for a year in prison for denying that Armenians were the victims of genocide between 1915 and 1917 under the Ottoman Empire, Turkey's predecessor.

If the bill passes through the assembly, it will have to be approved by the Senate and the president before it becomes law in what is expected to be a lengthy process.

Ankara has warned that bilateral ties will suffer a serious blow and French companies will be barred from economic projects if the bill is adopted.

Turkish officials largely see the draft law as a gesture to France's Armenian community before legislative elections next year.

"Vote of shame," said the left-leaning Cumhuriyet newspaper, appealing on legislators in France, "the home of freedom of expression", not to fall for "small electoral calculations".

"Day of fate with France," said the liberal Radikal newspaper, underlining that Ankara would keep its ties with France to a strict minimum if the bill was adopted.

A commentator for the daily questioned whether the draft law was designed to put Turkey off membership talks with the European Union that began last year.

"If the law is adopted, Turkey and the Turkish nation will be blackened, in the eyes of the international community, with the humiliating crime of genocide," he said.

"Then governments will have the opportunity to use the bill to put pressure on Turkey, especially on EU-related matters."

A commentator for the liberal Milliyet newspaper cautioned the Turkish government to stick to a path of pro-EU reforms and modernisation projects rather than allowing itself to be thrown off course by the possible adoption of the French bill.

"If Turkey turns its back on the EU, it will undoubtedly fall into a deep pit of instability," he warned. - Sapa-AFP

October 12 2006




French vote on Armenian genocide barely passes
PARIS — Infuriating Turkey, a thin turnout of French legislators approved a bill Thursday that would make it a crime to deny that mass killings of Armenians in Turkey during the First World War era amounted to genocide.

In Ankara, angry Turks threw eggs at the French Embassy amid growing calls to boycott French goods, although the bill could face an impossible struggle to become law — or even make it to the upper house for further discussion.

“No one should harbour the conviction that Turkey will take this lightly,” said Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul.

The bill passed 106-19, but the majority of the 557 legislators in France's lower house did not take part in the vote.

President Jacques Chirac's government opposed the bill, although it did not use its majority in the lower house to vote it down. Instead, most ruling party legislators did not vote on the text that was brought by the opposition Socialist Party.

Mr. Chirac's government is thought to be unlikely to forward the bill for passage by the Senate.

The French president did not comment on the vote Thursday, although he previously has said that the bill “is more of a polemic than legal reality.”

His former spokeswoman, Catherine Colonna, now France's minister for European affairs, told parliament Thursday that the government did not look favourably on the bill.

“It is not for the law to write history,” she said shortly before the vote.

The Armenia genocide issue has become intertwined with ongoing debate in France and across Europe about whether to admit mostly Muslim Turkey into the European Union. France is home to hundreds of thousands of people whose families came from Armenia.

On Thursday, Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk won the Nobel literature prize for his works dealing with the symbols of clashing cultures.

Mr. Pamuk was charged last year for telling a Swiss newspaper in February 2005 that Turkey was unwilling to deal with two of the most painful episodes in recent Turkish history: the massacre of Armenians and recent guerrilla fighting in Turkey's overwhelmingly Kurdish southeast. The charge was later dropped.

Mr. Chirac says he favours Turkey's membership in the EU. But on a visit to Armenia last month, he also urged Turkey to recognize “the genocide of Armenians” in order to join the European body.

“Each country grows by acknowledging its dramas and errors of the past,” Mr. Chirac said.

Gul, the Turkish foreign minister, said the bill dealt a serious blow to Turkish-French relations and damaged the credibility of France as an EU member, which defends freedom of expression.

“From now on, France will never describe itself as the homeland of freedoms,” Mr. Gul said.

France has already recognized the killings of up to 1.5 million Armenians from 1915 to 1919 as genocide; under Thursday's bill, those who contest it was genocide would risk up to a year in prison and fines of up to $63,600.

A law passed in 1990 makes it a crime to deny the Holocaust.

Armenia accuses Turkey of massacring Armenians during the First World War, when Armenia was under the Ottoman Empire. Turkey says Armenians were killed in civil unrest during the collapse of the empire.

Outside the French parliament building, a few dozen protesters of Armenian descent celebrated.

“The memory of the victims is finally totally respected,” said Alexis Govciyan, head of a group of Armenian organizations in France.

The vote on the bill in Paris dominated front pages of most Turkish newspapers, with some reporting that thousands of Turks have promised to go to France and deny genocide in hopes of getting arrested if the bill passes. Two TV networks in Turkey broadcast the parliamentary floor debate live.

EMMANUEL GEORGES-PICOT
Associated Press




Brussels and Ankara condemn French law on Armenia genocide
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The European Commission has condemned a French parliament vote in support of a law criminalising denial that Armenians suffered genocide by the Ottoman Turks, saying the move is likely to hinder open dialogue on Armenia in would-be EU member state Turkey.

"Should this law indeed enter into force, it would prohibit the debate and the dialogue which is necessary for reconciliation," said a commission spokeswoman after Paris' National Assembly vote on
Thursday (12 October) afternoon.

"It is not up to the law to write history, but in order to write history, historians need to be able to conduct an open debate," she added.

Armenia says Ottoman Turks in 1915 killed around 1.5 million of its citizens, something Turkey has always strongly denied.

Discussion of the issue in Turkey has been all but non-existent, with people pursuing the topic falling foul of article 301 of the country's penal code which punishes "insulting Turkishness."

Recognising the killings as genocide is not a criterion Turkey has to fulfil in order to become a member of the EU, but Brussels has been strongly pushing Ankara to consider the issue in an open manner on freedom of speech grounds – a strong principle of the EU.

Speaking ahead of today's vote in France, enlargement commissioner Ollie Rehn had said "This [law] would put in danger the efforts of all those in Turkey – intellectuals, historians, academics, authors – who truly want to develop an open and serious debate without taboos and for the sake of freedom of expression."

The socialist-drafted law was passed by 106 votes to 19 in the lower house and found favour on both sides of the poltical divide with 49 centre-right MPs backing the bill although President Chirac's conservative government is against it.

The legislation - which must still go through France's upper house before it comes into force - follows on the heels of a 2001 National Assembly resolution which recognised the massacre of Armenians as genocide, but the new bill proposes making Armenia genocide denial punishable by one year in prison and a fine of €45,000.

Centuries of goodwill damaged
Turkey has attacked the move, with a foreign ministry statement fired off after the vote saying "Turkish-French relations, which have been meticulously developed over the centuries, took a severe blow today through the irresponsible initiatives of some short-sighted French politicians, based on unfounded allegations."

In the run up to the vote, Ankara had also fuelled speculation it may react with trade moves such as cancelling French contracts, with French firms exporting €5 billion a year of goods to the country.

Some MEPs also hit out at the French decision, with UK liberal Andrew Duff saying "how can the EU expect Turkey to develop its laws and practice on freedom of speech when France, one of [the EU] founding members, is going in the opposite direction?"

A statement by the greens in the European Parliament said "The bill [will] further strengthen the hand of those working to undermine the reform process in Turkey and be a major setback to efforts in Turkey and the EU to promote democratisation."

Turkey 'should not lecture on free speech'
For their part, the French deputies who pushed the bill through have been equally vigorous in its defence.

"This legal proposal is immense progress for the Armenia cause and more generally for the cause of humanity," said communist member of parliament Frederic Dutoit, according to Le Monde.

"Turkey is not in a position to give us a lesson on the repression of public opinion because it is [prime minister] Erdogan's government itself which adopted the 301 law which punishes affirmation of genocide by prison," French deputy Patrick Devedjian stated.

12.10.2006 | By Honor Mahony




French bill to hit trade ties with Turkey
Ankara : France risks losing an important economic partner in Turkey and being left out of major projects ranging from the defence sector to energy if it adopts a controversial bill on the World War I-era massacres of Armenians.

The French national assembly is scheduled to vote today on the bill, which provides one year in prison and a 45,000-euro fine for denying that Armenians were the victims of genocide between 1915 and 1917 under the Ottoman Empire, Turkey's predecessor.

If the bill passes through the assembly, it will have to be approved by the Senate and the President before it becomes law in what is largely expected to be a lenghty process.

Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul has already warned that French companies should expect to be barred from major tenders and several civic groups have threatend to boycott French goods if the bill is approved.

This would be a repetition of what happened in 2001, when France officialy recognised the Armenian massacress as genocide, but French businessmen here feel the repercussions of the new bill could be more severe.

"In 2001, Turkey went though a huge economic crisis and the boycott of French goods was forgotten. But I do not think it will be the same this time round," Raphael Esposito, director of the French-Turkish Chamber of Commerce, said. "The wound will be deeper and will not heal as quickly."

Analysts say Turkey cannot cancel projects already awarded to French companies, but could easily bar them from future tenders.

One project France is interested in is the planned construction of the country's first nuclear power plant, which calls for an initial investment of $4bn

10/12/2006
Source ::: AFP




Armenia genocide bill may worsen France-Turkey relations
PARIS: Lawmakers in France approved a bill Thursday introducing fines and prison sentences to those who deny that the killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks during and after World War 1 amounted to genocide.

Deputies in the National Assembly, France's lower house of Parliament, voted 106-19 favoring the bill, which recognizes the killings of about 1.5 million Armenians from 1915 to 1919 as genocide and imposes a fine of 45,000 euros and a year in prison on those denying it.

Senators from the upper house will now consider the bill, which upon passage, will go before president Jacque Chirac. The bill was introduced by the opposition Socialists.

The country had passed a law in 2001 classifying the Armenian killings as genocide. The proposed legislation intends to make it a crime to deny that genocide.

Armenia contends that Turkey had massacred Armenians during World War I, when Armenia was under the Ottoman Empire. Turkey maintains the Armenians were killed in civil unrest as the empire collapsed.


The vote prompted reactions in Turkey, which is now trying to join European Union. Its chief negotiator in European Union membership talks Ali Babacan said Thursday the French bill flew in the face of freedom of expression. He said it is violating one of the core principles of the European Union.

The Turkish government had approved the launch of a study by scientists and historians into the genocide theory and Babacan said Ankara would accept the conclusion of the study.

A ruling party lawmaker in France, Patrick Devedjian, said the government of Turkish prime minister Recep Erdogan, who has sharply criticized the bill, had adopted a law that punishes the admission of a genocide with time in prison in Turkey.

Turkey's foreign ministry said the relations between the two countries, developed over centuries, have been dealt a blow with the bill. It termed the bill as irresponsible false claims of French politicians, who do not see the political consequences of their actions.

In Brussels, the European Commission said the passage of the bill will hamper reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia.

EU officials had warned French legislators not to go ahead with their proposal, arguing it could throw already sensitive EU entry talks with Turkey into crisis.

There could be an immediate repercussion. European aircraft maker EADS's Eurocopter unit has been trying to sell military helicopters worth hundreds of millions of euros to Turkey. Observers in Turkey now say the chances of Eurocopter winning the deal are virtually nil.

Turkey could also bar French companies from bidding for state-owned assets, including nuclear power stations

12 Oct 2006| Author : Pat Fryer




EU concern at French genocide vote
BRUSSELS, Belgium (Reuters) -- The European Union said French parliament approval on Thursday of a bill making it a crime to deny Armenians suffered genocide by Ottoman Turks could harm efforts to end decades of dispute over the killings.

Ankara said the French lower house vote was a severe blow to French-Turkish ties and its Economics Minister Ali Babacan, the man leading EU entry talks with Brussels, said he could not rule out consequences for French firms.

A European Commission spokeswoman noted the bill still needed upper house approval and said EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn had repeatedly warned in recent days it would damage efforts in Turkey and Armenia to resolve the dispute.

"Should this law enter into force ... it would prohibit dialogue which is necessary for reconciliation on the issue," spokeswoman Krisztina Nagy told a regular news conference.

Asked whether the bill could add a stumbling block to difficult accession talks with Ankara opened just over a year ago, she noted recognition of the 1915 killings as a genocide was not a precondition for accession.

"It is not up to law to write history. Historians need to have debate," she said.

In Ankara, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement that French-Turkish relations had been dealt a severe blow by "irresponsible false claims of French politicians who do not see the political consequences of their actions".

The ministry did not say whether Turkey would take any retaliatory measures against France but Babacan, in Brussels for the latest round of accession talks, said he could not exclude an impact for French business in Turkey.

"Time will show. But I cannot say it will not have any consequences," Babacan told reporters.

Asked about the threat of a boycott to French goods after the lower house of parliament overwhelmingly backed the bill, he replied: "As the government of Turkey, we are not encouraging something like that. But this is the people's decision."

Babacan said it was ironic that such a move should come from a founder member of the EU and champion of liberty, which has constantly stressed in its dealings with Ankara the need for Turkey to ensure freedom of expression.

"What happened in France today we believe is not in line with the core values of the European Union," he said.

Turkey opened accession talks last October. They are expected to last for at least a decade but have already hit problems over Ankara's refusal to open its ports to traffic from EU member Cyprus.

Copyright 2006 Reuters. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

overnment has distanced itself from the draft law, which has also been condemned by academics in France and Turkey as a dangerous attempt to legislate history. The law would punish denial with a maximum one-year prison term and a fine of up to €45,000 (£30,000).

France’s existing law banning denial of the Nazi Holocaust is different, the critics say, because it is aimed against anti-Semitism.

With 400,000 French citizens of Armenian descent, and with elections seven months away, many MPs from the ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), are expected to refrain from opposing it.

October 12, 2006




The projects where French companies can be most adversely affected following the decision to be made by the French
The law draft on criminalizing the rejection of the so-called Armenian genocide, to be discussed in the France Parliament on October 12 jeopardizes the shares that French companies, some of which had made their way to the shortlist, can get from the investments in Turkey.

Investment, procurement and defense tenders
The projects where French companies can be most adversely affected following the decision to be made by the French Parliament include tenders concerning transportation, energy, defense and procurement.
To begin with, French companies are known to prepare to bid for the construction of the nuclear plant planned to be built in Sinop with an investment of some 5 billion dollars.

French companies also appear on the shortlist at the tender concerning the purchasing of the vehicles to be used in İstanbul subway systems, aka “Marmaray”, with an estimated worth of 2 billion dollars. An important portion of the vehicles to be used in the subway lines to be built by İstanbul, İzmir, Adana, Konya, Kayseri and other metropolitan municipalities are also made by French companies.

While they have contributed to significant procurement tenders of the Turkish Armed Forces and cooperated particularly with TAI and the Defense Industry Undersecretariat in the past, it is considered inevitable that the French companies lose their advantaged positions in the case that the draft bill passes.
The French Eurocopter company is known to have prospects in the tender for the purchasing of 52 helicopters and to have entered the short list determined by the Defense Industry Undersecretariat.

3rd bridge and 2nd tunnel projects
The chances of the French companies in possible future tenders for the 3rd Bosphorus Bridge and the 2nd underwater tunnel projects are also hazarded by the recent developments.
There is also the risk that the bids by French companies in the tenders for equipment, signalization electrification and telecommunication projects to be used in the light and heavy rail lines on several routes in İstanbul will not be taken into consideration.

EU playing high-risk game on Turkey
Europe risks alienating Turkey if it continues to add spurious new entry conditions to Ankara’s EU entry, according to the UK’s former Europe minister, Denis Macshane.

Writing in the Financial Times, Macshane says issues such as France’s insistence on Ankara recognising the Armenian genocide are endangering’s Turkish democracy and could lead to the country turning towards the east.

“Turkey wakes up almost every month to find a new hurdle on its path to Europe,” said Macshane.

“If the EU is to demand apologies for historic misdeeds from its existing members, then it may as well dissolve itself.”

EkoTürk News Agency / Ankara
11 October 2006




Turkey unites to oppose French plans for Armenian law
Istanbul - On a visit to Ankara at the beginning of the year, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy highlighted the interest shown by French business in investing in Turkey, particularly in the huge project to construct a nuclear power station at Sinop on the Black Sea.

Now, instead of lucrative contracts, those same companies face a boycott of their products, and political relations between the two countries have plumbed a low not seen since that of five years ago.

Then France passed a law in which the murder of thousands of Armenians in the declining days of the Ottoman Empire was characterized as 'genocide.'

The reason for Turkish anger this time is that France may take a further step with a proposed law that would make it a criminal offence to deny the genocide that took place 90 years ago.

That anger is being expressed right across Turkish politics, by business leaders and by consumer associations, ahead of consideration of the bill by the French National Assembly on Thursday.

Ankara has made clear it will not stand idle. The Turkish government sees the French move as yet another attempt to sabotage talks about Turkish accession to the European Union that are in any case bogged down.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called in French business leaders over the weekend and demanded that these top representatives of French companies like Renault and Peugeot, Lafarge, Carrefour and Danone to use their influence at home.

The Foreign Ministry warned on Monday that if the draft law is accepted, this would be seen as a 'hostile decision' that would have consequences for economic links between the two countries.

France could expect to be excluded from large-scale projects in Turkey. And calls for a boycott of French products and even for French visitors to apply for a visa were being raised.

Turkey is particularly outraged and embittered at what it sees as double standards in the European Union.

Turkey has to endure harsh criticism that there are limits there on freedom of expression, while precisely this is what is now being restricted in France.

With the proposed law France, which has 'since the revolution of 1789 been in the vanguard of human rights,' is now returning to 'the Middle Ages,' in the words of Rifat Hisarciklioglu, president of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey.

And even Turkish intellectuals, who have been brought before the courts in Turkey because of their opinions on the Armenian question, have come out against the French draft bill.

Hrant Dink, publisher of the Turkish-Armenian weekly newspaper Agos, said that if the proposal was passed, he would travel to France with the express purpose of 'denying the genocide,' even though he is convinced of the opposite and is in fact facing prosecution in Turkey for this reason.

The French initiative displayed the same 'mentality' as that shown by those in Turkey who strongly reject the allegation that genocide took place, Dink said.

By Ingo Bierschwale Oct 10, 2006
© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur




Boycotting Is No Solution; We Need A Lobby
SABAH- Recent developments show us how difficult it is to separate the economy from political developments. The tension with France may lead to a boycott of French products in Turkey. Turkish-French trade relations are now being discussed. There are longstanding trade ties between the two countries. French firms are making more investments in Turkey than those of any other country. Turkey is right in reacting against France taking these unjust steps. The reason behind this is France is using Turkey as domestic political fodder. The easiest way to win votes in the coming presidential elections in France is to adopt an anti-Turkey policy. The same thing happened in Germany. But after the elections, German Chancellor Angelika Merkel didn’t erect obstacles to Turkey’s EU membership bid. It is possible that the same will happen in France.

But an increase in anti-Turkey views could bring great damage. I’m sure French officials have calculated the costs to French firms in Turkey. They should be prepared for Turkish officials who reconsider bids on energy and military equipment. Boycotting French products could bring something in the short run, but could be damaging in the long run. Political efforts and lobbying would be more effective. Turkey is right in its claims, but it would get better results if it would counter this bill with lobbyists and political efforts.

10/10/2006
BY AYDIN AYAYDIN




FRENCH SOCIALISTS CALL THE POLICE TO BAN ANTI ARMENIAN BILL DEMONSTRATIONS IN LYON
PARIS - The French Socialist who played a crucial role in banning the Turkish approach regarding the Armenian issue in France, called the state authorities to prevent the civil demonstrations in Lyon.

Rene Rouquet argued that the French State has the right to ban such demonstrations. The Turkish people and some French protest the Armenian bill which makes crime rejecting the Armenian claims.

Dr. Nilgun Gulcan, Turkish EU expert, said "the French socialists are really strange socialists. Theye are against freedom of speech and demonstrations. If they oppose the elections tomorrow, it will not make me surprised".

Journal of Turkish Weekly, Turkey
Oct 12 2006




"History Requires Conscience Not Law"
Journalists Mahcupyan, Dink and Zarakolu blast French "Genocide Bill" as a product of "repressive mentalities" similar to the ones in Turkey: "This bill is ethically illegal and Armenian history needs to be treated with conscience, not laws"

11/10/2006 BİA (Istanbul) - Journalists Etyen Mahcupyan, Hrant Dink and Ragip Zarakolu have issued a joint statement in which they have said the "Draft law to Punish the Denial of the Armenian Genocide" to be tabled by the French parliament on Thursday" is the consequence of a repressive mentality and outside the bounds of "a democratic mind", such is the article 301 and other legislation in Turkey.

The statement said the law that's being proposed in France was, in principle and ethically "illegal" and was as diseased as the reflex reactions Turkey are developing in a nationalist viewpoint.

"In a period such as this where the communities are in such a great effort to undertand each other, reciprocal political tactics are treason to the forming of a more peaceful and just mutual world" the statement said. "We invite those involved to show common sense".

The three intellectuals, two of them leading names in the Armenian-Turkish community, said that the West had in the past carried a great responsibility "in exhausting the relationship between Armenia and Turkey" and stressed that the duty of these countries now was to re-initiate relations between the two peoples, find ways of solution and to support these by compensating for past mistakes.

Rights Being Violated
The statement of the intellectuals coincided with a letter sent this week by the Human Rights Association (IHD) and Turkey's Human Rights Foundation (TIHV) to the International Human Rights Federation (FIDH) based in France.

Signed by IHD Chairman Yusuf Alatas and TIHV Chairman Yavuz Onen, the letter expressed concern that the Armenian Genocide bill was a severe violation to the freedom of expression and that if the draft was passed, there were fears it would lead to rights violations in enforcement.

The IHD and TIHV letters said the draft was setting a world-wide precedent to lifting the freedom of expressing opinions and that it threatened the freedom of expression both in France and in Turkey.

"It cannot be accepted in the view of human rights for an event that has taken place in Turkey in the past to be exploited in France for political purposes or electoral concerns" the letter said,

It recognized that there were things to be done in Turkey both in the official and civilian fields due to the "tragic incidents that the Armenian people have lived through in the past" and asked FIDH to actively work to stop the draft and to share these views with the French Parliament.
(EO/KO/TK/II/YE)

BIA News Center




CGD Calls IFJ to React Against French Bill
Contemporary Journalists Association Chair Abakay calls on FIJ Secretary General White to act against a bill criminalizing the denial of "Armenian Genocide" before the French Parliament votes on it on October 12: "Do not extend your hands to be shackled"

10/10/2006 Erol ONDEROGLU BİA (Ankara) - Turkey's Contemporary Journalists Association (CDG) chairman Ahmet Abakay has appealed for the International Federation of Journalists (FIJ) to act against a draft law criminalizing the denial of the "Armenian Genocide" which will be debated in the French Parliament on October 12.

If the law is passed, persons who deny the "Armenian Genocide" proposed to be taken place between 1915 and 1918 in Anatolia marking the end of the Ottomon Empire are to be sentenced to a year in prison and fined 45,000 Euro in France.

Addressing a letter to IFJ Secretary General Aidan White, CGD chairman Abakay called on the international organization which has about 500.000 members in 100 countries to "raise voice against the draft bill that places the freedom of expression in a bottleneck. As our framework organization, do not extent your hands to this shackle".

Recalling that since it was established the CDG has without concessions defended democracy, human rights, the freedom of press and expression, Abakay asked the Brussels-based IFJ to "display a clear and open attitude" against the initiative in France.

"This development is a bad example and double standards which cannot be defended either for France, which is accepted as a symbol of freedoms, or Europe" the letter said. "Both France and Europe as well as the contemporary world should be rid of this shame. Even worse is that the freedom and right of expression is being made an appetizer for internal politics, for the French elections".

301 victims against the draft
A number of Turkish journalists and writers who were prosecuted in Turkey for "denigrating Turkishness" under the controversial Penal Code article 301 due to their direct or indirect references to an "Armenian Genocide" have also reacted to the French draft charging that it violated the freedom of expression.

In an exclusive report in the Turkish Radikal newspaper, Elif Safak, Baskin Oran, Murat Belge, Ibrahim Kaboglu and Fatih Tas as well as Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink, all prosecuted under 301, united against the French "Armenian Genocide" draft and agreed that France was "delivering a blow to the freedom of expression with this law". (EO/II/YE)

BIA News Center




Why French MPs passed Armenian genocide bill
A dictionary will tell you that genocide is the organised killing of a people to end their collective existence.

Because of its scope, it requires central planning and a machinery to implement it.

Genocide was clearly Adolf Hitler's aim - it was also what the Hutus of Rwanda desired in 1994.

There are many Turks who will not deny hundreds of thousands of Armenians were killed in 1915 during a resettlement programme to other parts of the Ottoman Empire.

But people died, they say, in inter-communal warfare - it was not the organised killing of a people to end their collective existence. It was not genocide.

There are many others around the world who beg to differ but some here in France want to enshrine their view in law.

The lower house of parliament has approved a bill making it a crime to deny Armenians suffered genocide. No other country has tried this, so why are the French doing so now?

"Everything is politics" they say and for critics of the French initiative that is exactly what the controversy is about - politics.

Wooing voters The bill was proposed by the minority Socialists in the French Parliament.

There is a presidential election next year and cynics say pushing for a law criminalising denial of an Armenian genocide plays well with Armenians here who vote.

Jack Lang, a Socialist MP, believes he knows what is going on and has broken ranks.

"I believe the Socialist party has adopted an electoralist point of view. It is not sincere. It is only to get the electoral support of the Armenian community."

Cynics say there are others whom those who put forward the bill want to impress: the majority of French people who do not want Turkey joining the European Union.

Indeed many French politicians agree a mainly Muslim country has no place in the EU and this may be driving the anti-Turkish bill.

Cross-party support But is cynicism over the motives behind the bill fair?

For many French politicians denying the Armenian genocide is like denying the Holocaust and it was not just Socialists who supported the bill.

They were joined by a number of centre-right politicians too.

Herve Mariton of the ruling UMP party said:

"The genocide is a fact. It is an absolute disgrace for the 20th Century, it is an absolute disgrace for humanity, it has to be stated as such."

The government of President Jacques Chirac is in a difficult position.

He has suggested Turkish recognition of the Armenian genocide should be a pre-condition of entry into the EU, but he has distanced his government from the bill.

Principle
Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin says it is a bad idea and insists France wants strong ties with Turkey.

French businesses fear trade will suffer. Exports to Turkey were worth 4.66bn euros last year.

That is why ultimately the bill will never become law.

It has to go to the Senate for a vote and with the government's majority in the upper house, it is highly unlikely to pass.

Gesture politics then and a cry from the heart by MPs who believe it was genocide, or is all this politicking?

And does it make sense to criminalise Armenian genocide denial anyway?

French jails would be overcrowded with Turks, proud of their history.

Those in favour of the bill emphatically say yes, the horrors of the past must not be forgotten or denied.

The new bill is not about politics, they say, but principle.

12 October 2006
By Clive Myrie
BBC News, Paris






TURKEY'S ARMENIANS SEE NO GOOD IN FRENCH GENOCIDE BILL
Turkey's Armenians have raised their voice against a French bill that makes it a jailable offense to deny their ancestors were the victim of genocide under Ottoman rule, wary it will antagonize Turks and further strain an already tense debate on the issue.

The draft law, to be debated and voted in the French parliament Thursday, calls for one year in prison and a hefty 45,000-euro (57,000 dollar) fine for anyone who denies that the World War I massacres constituted genocide.

Among the first to condemn the bill was journalist Hrant Dink, who is among a handful of taboo-breaking intellectuals in Turkey who have openly argued that the massacres were genocide, drawing nationalist ire and landing himself in court.

"This is idiocy," the Turkish-Armenian Dink said in remarks to the liberal daily Radikal. "It only shows that those who restrict freedom of expression in Turkey and those who try to restrict it in France are of the same mentality."

Dink, editor of the Turkish-Armenian bilingual weekly Agos, received a six-month suspended sentence last year for "insulting Turkishness" in an article about the 1915-1917 massacres.

He is scheduled to go on trial again under the same provision, this time for saying the killings were genocide.

Dink said he was ready to defend freedom of expression even if it means running the risk of imprisonment in France.

"I am standing trial in Turkey for saying it was genocide. If this bill is adopted, I will go to France and, in spite of my conviction, I will say it was not genocide," he said in a television interview.

"The two countries can then compete to see who throws me in jail first."

Another Armenian journalist, Etyen Mahcupyan, said Turks see the proposed law as an imposition on them to accept the genocide and feared the French move could scupper a fledgling, timid debate in Turkey to question its past.

"Initiatives like the one in the French parliament are awkward," he told AFP. "They push the Turks closer to the state and make them more vulnerable to manipulation."

Discussing the massacres was a near-taboo in Turkey until recently and an open debate on the issue -- one of the most controversial in Turkish history -- still sends nationalist sentiment into frenzy.

Mahcupyan, a columnist for the conservative daily Zaman, called on European countries to back efforts at improving democracy in Turkey, which, he said, is the only way to ensure free debate to challenge Ankara's official line on the killings.

The Armenian Patriarchate had said the same thing in May, when the bill was first submitted but ran out of parliamentary time before a vote could be held.

"All initiatives creating obstacles to freedom of expression will jeopardize the process of dialogue between Turks and Armenians and will reinforce nationalist tendencies on both sides," it said.

Ara Kocunyan, editor of the small Armenian-language daily Jamanak, criticized what he called the feeling of "self-victimization" with which the Armenian diaspora in the West is pursuing its campaign to have the massacres internationally recognized as genocide.

He urged instead increased efforts to combat the dire economic situation in Armenia, to which Turkey has contributed by sealing its border.

"If we stick to the current priorities, I fear those weeping today for a father killed 90 years ago will find themselves weeping for little Armenia in 50 years' time," Kocunyan said.

Armenians claim up to 1.5 million of their kin were slaughtered in orchestrated killings between 1915 and 1917.

Turkey categorically rejects the genocide label, saying 300,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks died in civil strife when Armenians took up arms for independence in eastern Anatolia and sided with invading Russian troops as the Ottoman Empire fell apart.

by Nicolas Cheviron
Agence France Presse -- English
October 10, 2006




FRENCH GOVT SAYS ARMENIAN GENOCIDE BILL 'NOT NECESSARY'
The French government said Tuesday it believed a bill enshrining the World War I massacre of Armenians as genocide by Turkey was "not necessary", following stiff anger from Ankara.

The bill, drafted by the opposition Socialist Party and to be voted on Thursday, "does not implicate the government", foreign ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei told reporters.

"In our view, it is not necessary," he said.

President Jacques Chirac's ruling conservative party has distanced itself from the bill which, if passed, would punish anybody who denied the Armenian "genocide" with up to a year in prison and a 45,000-euro (56,400-dollar) fine.

France in 2001 already adopted a law calling the massacres a genocide.

The bill has created an uproar in Turkey, which argues that while 300,000 Armenians died in 1915, at least as many Turks did too in civil strife that occurred during the collapse of its Ottoman Empire.

Chirac has championed Turkey's ambitions to join the European Union, though domestic opposition has prompted him to soften his stance somewhat.

On a recent trip to Armenia, he said Turkey should recognise the Armenian killings as a genocide before being allowed to join the EU.

Agence France Presse -- English
PARIS, Oct 10 2006




TURKEY'S ARMENIANS DISTRUST FRENCH GENOCIDE BILL
Turkey's Armenians have raised their voice against a French bill that makes it a jailable offense to deny their ancestors were the victim of genocide under Ottoman rule.

They fear it will antagonize the Turkish majority and further strain an already tense debate.

The draft law, to be debated and voted in the French parliament Thursday, calls for one year in prison and a hefty 45,000-euro (57,000 dollar) fine for anyone who denies that the World War I massacres constituted genocide.

Among the first to condemn the bill was journalist Hrant Dink, who is among a handful of taboo-breaking intellectuals in Turkey who have openly argued that the massacres were genocide, drawing nationalist ire and landing himself in court.

"This is idiocy," the Turkish-Armenian Dink said in remarks to the liberal daily Radikal. "It only shows that those who restrict freedom of expression in Turkey and those who try to restrict it in France are of the same mentality."

Dink, editor of the Turkish-Armenian bilingual weekly Agos, received a six-month suspended sentence last year for "insulting Turkishness" in an article about the 1915-1917 massacres.

He is scheduled to go on trial again under the same provision, this time for saying the killings were genocide.

Dink said he was ready to defend freedom of expression even if it means running the risk of imprisonment in France.

"I am standing trial in Turkey for saying it was genocide. If this bill is adopted, I will go to France and, in spite of my conviction, I will say it was not genocide," he said in a television interview.

"The two countries can then compete to see who throws me in jail first."

Another Armenian journalist, Etyen Mahcupyan, said Turks see the proposed law as an imposition on them to accept the genocide and feared the French move could scupper a fledgling, timid debate in Turkey to question its past.

"Initiatives like the one in the French parliament are awkward," he told AFP. "They push the Turks closer to the state and make them more vulnerable to manipulation."

Discussing the massacres was a near-taboo in Turkey until recently and an open debate on the issue -- one of the most controversial in Turkish history -- still sends nationalist sentiment into frenzy.

Mahcupyan, a columnist for the conservative daily Zaman, called on European countries to back efforts to improve democracy in Turkey, which he said was the only way to ensure free debate and challenge Ankara's official line.

The Armenian Patriarchate said the French bill only created obstacles to frank dialogue between Armenians and Turks.

"All initiatives creating obstacles to freedom of expression endanger the process of dialogue between the Turkish and Armenian societies, and reinforce nationalist and racist tendancies on both sides," the head of the Armenian Church said in a statement.

Ara Kocunyan, editor of the small Armenian-language daily Jamanak, criticized what he called the feeling of "self-victimization" with which the Armenian diaspora in the West is pursuing its campaign to have the massacres internationally recognized as genocide.

He urged instead increased efforts to combat the dire economic situation in Armenia, to which Turkey has contributed by sealing its border.

"If we stick to the current priorities, I fear those weeping today for a father killed 90 years ago will find themselves weeping for little Armenia in 50 years' time," Kocunyan said.

Armenians claim up to 1.5 million of their kin were slaughtered in orchestrated killings between 1915 and 1917.

Turkey categorically rejects the genocide label, saying 300,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks died in civil strife when Armenians took up arms for independence in eastern Anatolia and sided with invading Russian troops as the Ottoman Empire fell apart.


by Nicolas Cheviron
Agence France Presse -- English
October 10, 2006




Armenian diaspora bound by killings
>From the Armenian perspective, the passing of a law in France forbidding denial of what Armenians consider to have been genocide is recognition of a great historical disaster.

There are politically and financially influential Armenian communities in several countries, most importantly the US, Canada and France. They have driven efforts to force recognition of the massacres in 1915 as genocide.

With Armenians so dispersed around the globe, the genocide theme has evolved into a central aspect of their national and self-identity.

But in Armenia itself, perspectives on the mass killings are sometimes quite different from the angry and highly politicised debate abroad.


Seminal event

One of the first things foreign visitors to Armenia are taken to see is the genocide memorial.

The towering concrete structure stands on a hill overlooking the country's capital, Yerevan.

It houses a small, sombre museum and is generally a low-key affair -except on one of Armenia's public holidays, genocide memorial day, held in late April every year.

Then a significant part of Armenia's population - just three-million or so strong - visit it to lay flowers.

At other times, the killings are part of a shared history, but one obscured by daily life.

Armenia is very poor, and its people have much more immediate concerns to be worried about.

That is not so among the Armenian diaspora. Revealingly, most of the best-known reflections of the killings, in music and literature, were produced outside Armenia.

In France, and especially the US, Armenians have excelled in science and commerce, and have a vocal presence in politics and the judiciary.

This leads Turkey and its allies to speak of an "Armenian lobby", which they say exerts disproportionate influence.

But among the diaspora, the mass killings in 1915 are the seminal event of modern Armenian history, something that binds together what is one of the world's most dispersed peoples.

Indeed, many diaspora Armenians passionately believe that the killings define latter-day Armenian identity.

And it is the diaspora, rather than Armenia itself, that drives the effort to have those killings recognised internationally as genocide.

12 October 2006
By Steven Eke
Regional affairs analyst, BBC News




French in Turkey 'genocide' row
PARIS (Reuters) - Ignoring Turkish protests, the French lower house of parliament overwhelmingly approved a bill on Thursday making it a crime to deny Armenians suffered genocide in 1915 at the hands of the Ottoman Turks.

French businesses fear a Turkish backlash because of the legislation, which has highlighted broader anxieties about Turkish efforts to secure European Union membership.

The bill still needs the approval of both the upper house Senate and the French president to become law, but Turkey has already warned that Thursday's vote would damage ties between the two NATO allies.

Turkey denies accusations of a genocide of some 1.5 million Armenians during the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire in World War One, arguing that Armenian deaths were a part of general partisan fighting in which both sides suffered.

However, France's Armenian community, which is up to 500,000-strong and one of the largest in Europe, had pushed hard for the bill and found cross-party support in parliament.

Thursday's motion was carried by 106 votes to 19.

The legislation establishes a one-year prison term and 45,000 euro ($56,570) fine for anyone denying the genocide -- exactly the same sanctions as those imposed for denying the Nazi genocide of Jews during World War Two.

The French government did not support the motion, saying it was up to historians and not parliament to judge the past, but the ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) gave its lawmakers a free hand in the vote, ensuring it would pass.

"Does a genocide committed in the World War One have less value than a genocide committed in World War Two. Obviously not," UMP deputy Philippe Pomezec said during the debate.

EU FEARS However, some Turks think French politicians have more on their minds than 20th century history and suspect they are using the bill to further complicate Ankara's already uphill struggle to join the European Union.

The majority of French people are opposed to Turkey joining the 25-nation bloc and fears over its potential membership was given as one of the reasons why France voted last year to reject the EU constitution.

"(This vote) can only worsen prospects for EU accession and will move the Turkish population even further away from pro-EU sentiment," said Lars Christensen with Danske Bank in Denmark.

"We have long been optimistic that Turkey will become an EU member, but we're moving in the wrong direction, which will really affect markets," he added.

Both outgoing President Chirac and Socialist presidential frontrunner Segolene Royal say Turkey must acknowledge the genocide before joining the EU, while conservative frontrunner Nicolas Sarkozy is opposed to its EU entry under any conditions.

But government ministers fear that the Armenia vote will have an immediate impact on trade with Turkey, with French exports to Turkey worth 4.66billion euros ($5.85 billion) in 2005.

"Liberty, Equality, Stupidity," Turkish daily Hurriyet said in a headline on Thursday, reflecting widespread Turkish anger and irritation over the vote.

Copyright 2006 Reuters.
Reuters
October 12, 2006
By Crispian Balmer




Armenia vote splits Turkish press
Newspapers in Turkey differ over how to respond to Thursday's vote in the French parliament on a bill that would make it a crime to deny that Turks committed genocide against Armenians during World War I.

Some commentators believe the vote signals opposition to Turkey joining the European Union, and one writer calls France "a disgrace to the civilised world".

Other dailies appeal for a level-headed approach so that Turkey does not "humiliate" itself, and argue that Ankara still has many friends in Europe.

CENGIZ CANDAR IN BUGUN
The draft law is actually a clear sign that "the anti-Turkey rebellion in the EU" has begun. That's why we cannot and must not see today's vote and its results exclusively in terms of relations between Turkey and France. This contains dimensions that can turn into a Turkey-EU issue, and the opposition against Turkey in the EU has begun to present an ugly face.

HASAN CEMAL IN MILLIYET
In Europe there are not only those who want to keep Turkey outside of the EU. There are also those who defend Turkey's EU membership in terms of the contribution it will make to the political, economic and strategic interests of Europe. That is why staying on track and continuing the journey to Europe is certainly to Turkey's benefit.

EMIN COLASAN IN HURRIYET
As long as we keep begging the Europeans on the way towards the EU, many more genocide tales, and many other issues and embarrassing obstacles will be set before us. Those who do not see this are either liars attempting to deceive the nation or the ignorant ready to sell their country to the EU.

MEHMET ALI BIRAND IN POSTA
Let us not provoke those Turkish people who cannot control their reactions. Let us tell France to "stop" but do that within civilised limits. Let us not humiliate ourselves nor incite xenophobia in Turkey.

OKTAY EKSI IN HURRIYET
We stress that France is a disgrace to the civilised world. However, it is a precondition for Turkey, which tells others that "what you are doing is shameful in terms of freedom of expression" first of all to get rid of its own sources of shame.

ILHAN SELCUK IN CUMHURIYET
France is not alone in this move. The West has changed towards Turkey! If France punishes those who say that "there was no Armenian genocide" it will be a shameful historical document and permit us to perceive the new realities of the world.

SAHIN ALPAY IN ZAMAN
Ankara is getting ready to retaliate against France if it turns the denial of the "Armenian Genocide" into a crime. Even if we assume that the EU politicians and elites are not so stupid as to take steps that will push Turkey away from Europe, it seems inevitable that Turkey-EU relations will go through a tense period in the future.




TURKISH MPS DROP PROPOSAL TO HIT BACK AT FRANCE WITH ALGERIA LAW
Turkish legislators Wednesday dropped proposals to brand as genocide the killings of Algerians under French colonial rule.

The drafts had been submitted in retaliation to a French bill that, if accepted, would provide jail terms for those who deny that Turks committed genocide against Armenians during World War I.

"We should not fall in France's position. We should avoid the same mistake of writing history with parliamentary decisions," Mehmet Dulger, a senior lawmaker from the ruling Justice and Development Party, said during the debate at the parliament's justice commission.

Ibrahim Ozdogan from the opposition center-right Motherland Party, and the author of one of the three drafts the commission examined, argued that European countries should rethink the massacres of their own colonial past.

"The murderer has come to take the judge's seat," he said.

After a three-hour debate, commission members voted to refer the proposals to a sub-committee for further discussion, a move that effectively freezes the proposals.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had urged legislators Tuesday to refrain from any retaliatory action, saying, "we do not clean filth with filth."

The French draft, to be debated and voted at the National Assembly in Paris on Thursday, foresees one year in prison and a 45,000-euro (57,000-dollar) fine for denying that Armenians were victims of genocide during World War I.

Infuriated by the move, Ankara has warned that if the bill is adopted, bilateral ties will suffer and French companies will be barred from major economic projects in Turkey.

Two of the drafts examined Wednesday call for the recognition of the killings of Algerians under French colonial rule as genocide and provide jail terms for those who deny it.

The third draft called for the imprisonment of those who assert Armenians were victims of genocide under the Ottoman Empire.

The justice commission is the first instance where bills are debated before being sent to a vote at the general assembly.

Armenians claim up to 1.5 million of their kin were slaughtered in orchestrated killings between 1915 and 1917.

Turkey rejects the genocide label, arguing that 300,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks died in civil strife when Armenians took up arms for independence in eastern Anatolia and sided with invading Russian troops as the Ottoman Empire was falling apart.

Agence France Presse -- English
October 11, 2006




ISN'T THE DRAFT THE OFFICIAL POSITION OF FRANCE?
France benefit from the adoption of the law criminalizing the negation of the Armenian Genocide, announced French Ambassador to Azerbaijan Bernard du Chaffaut. He underlined that the draft has been brought to the Parliament by the oppositional Socialist Party.

Bernard du Chaffaut also mentioned that even if the draft is adopted in the National Assembly, it will not mean that it will come into force at once. For that the Senate must confirm it; and even if the Senate does so, it still will not be the official position of France to the issue, agency "Trend" informs.

The French diplomat mentioned that the adoption of the draft cannot have negative influence on the French-Turkish relations and the relations of France with other Moslem countries. The Ambassador claimed that the attitude of France will not affect the membership of Turkey in the EU and that the President of France is for Turkey's membership.

A1+
11 October, 2006




'FRENCH BILL IS IDIOCY' - AGOS EDITOR-IN-CHIEF HRANT DINK SAID TO REUTERS
In an interview with the Reuters, Hrant Dink, editor-in-chief of Agos newspaper again labeled the French bill penalizing denial of the Armenian Genocide "idiocy". "You are citizens and your state uses this (genocide issue) as a trump for the other party. The other party is trying to make an attempt out of this and judge other people. This is what I call idiocy. We are not obliged to be a pawn for these irrational behaviors of the states toward one another. In order to object to this kind of diplomatic nonsense, I will go to France, oppose that law and commit the crime set by that law if necessary. I want this irrational mentality to compete against one another to put me in prison," Dink was quotes as saying by Turkish Zaman daily.

By Hakob Chakrian
AZG Armenian Daily
12/10/2006




FRENCH AMBASSADOR: "I DO NOT THINK FRENCH PARLIAMENT TO ADOPT THE BILL ON ARMENIAN GENOCIDE"
France extraordinary and plenipotentiary ambassador to Azerbaijan Bernard Amaudric du Chaffaut held a press conference on discussion of false Armenian genocide in France parliament.

He said he does not believe that the parliament will accept the bill.

"This bill was suggested by Socialist Party. If the National Assembly adopts the bill it will be presented to the Senate. The Senate may adopt ore refuse it. The president cannot override veto to the decision of the Senate. If National Assembly does not adopt the bill the problem will end. Turkey and France Foreign Ministers talked over the phone today. They discussed bilateral relations," he said.

The Ambassador also said that there exists a law for punishing those who deny Armenian genocide in France, but it was not applied to anybody.

He also touched upon France Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy's statement on the problem, APA reports.

"Sarkozy said this not as the government representative, but as party leader. I do not want to comment on his statement. As concerns Minsk Group French co-chair's activity, I would like to say that the co-chair represents neither the parliament nor the opposition. He tries to solve Nagorno Garabagh conflict," the Ambassador said.

Today, Azerbaijan
Oct 11 2006

"France to Feed Us?" . . Urgent Duty Of Foreign Ministry ...H Dink should make another thing as well!

Illegal Armenian workers   are happy to live in Turkey They are happy to live in Turkey

"Genocide Is Not What We Care About, Our Only Worry Is Bread-Money"

The offer made by Yasar Yakis for retaliation to France, has carried the 70 thousand illegal Armenian workers in Turkey into agenda. These workers who ran away from joblessness are trying to fill their bellies at three kurus say "France should not mess up things, if Turkey throws us out, are they going to give our food?


The sharp edge of the Bill Proposal to be voted at French Parliament tomorrow which considers denial of genocide a crime, has touched the Armenian citizens working illegally in Turkey. Yasar Yakis', (former Minister of Foreign Affairs and head of EU Compliance Commission, and MP from Duzce) suggestion to expel back to their country some 70 thousand illegal Armenian workers, and which has been supported by opposition CHP, has caused anxiety among these Armenians.

Alright, in Turkey, which is a paradise for illegal workers, where does those who came from Armenia live and what kind of life they have? What does the Armenian workers think about the law in France about calling the genocide denial a crime? In order to find answers to all these questions we went to Kumkapi or as lately named Armmenian-kapi and looked through magnifying glass.

Monthly income is $ 200-400
Most of the women who came from Armenia, go to daily house cleaning or baby sitting. They receive some $ 200-300 monthly. Men, compared to women can find jobs with greater difficulty; some work for shoe-repair, some work in repair shops, other working as waiter or tea house. These get some $ 400 monthly. They calculate their salaries in Dollars, because they pay their rent in Dollars. More truly room rents, because Armenians living in Kumkapi in ruined buildings, pay their rent per room. 3-4 families share the sme house. WC, kitchen, bathroom are all shared. Rent of a room starts from $ 100.-

Every day 4 buses come
In Kumkapi, in whatever shop you enter, you find an Armenian worker. Anahit Bulayan who works for a bus transport company says that every day four busses of Armenians arrive. When speaking of genocide, they don't want to reply straightly and they react strongly saying:"France should not be involved… If we are kicked out from Turkey, will it be them to give us food ? We don't care about genocide. Our problem is earn bread-money. So many people run away from Armenia, because there is no job.".

Nelson Madoyan who came from Armenian Spitak village with 500 habitants, four years ago with his wife Nona is only 26 years old. Her daughtetr Maryam, 3 years old, was born is Istanbul. His words that "there are many families with children from Armenia living here, signals that a new generation of Turkish born Armenians are coming up. "When we left Armenia, we had no money at all. Here I found a job, started to work. I don't care about genocide etc. These words fill no bellies. My problem is my bread money. I learned Turkish, I do not want to go from here. What would I be doing in Armenia, anyway"?

(Photograph of another women being interviewed) University graduate house maid
Narian Ambaryan's Turkish adventure started in 2000. Narin said to our friend Bulent Gunal "I am a teacher of music and university graduate, but now I go to house cleaning. My husband repairs shoes. We get some $ 400-500 per month. With this money we had our daughter Juliet educated. She graduated as a lawyer. Because she could not find a job in Armenia, she too came here. My son will come when he finishes his military service. I watch the Turkish TV series "Bitter life" and "Burnt cocoon" and cry. When mentioning "genocide": her face too gets, her face too gets sober. She says, "we are but little humans, if we were to think of all these, cwould we have come to Turkey? We are much alike Turks. Our food, our conversations are alike".

Note of translator: Those who read some history will certainly see that until revolutionist Dashnak-Hunchak inspirations and gangs came from outside, Armenians of Turkey lived most peacefully and richly together.

Unfortunately it was the "mostly innocent" Armenians of Turkey who had to pay for wrong doings of outsiders. I am personally against in again punishing the destitute, simply because we cannot handle the outside trouble makers and profiteers… It is like kicking out the quiet cat, because dog bites you on street!

"VATAN" Oct.11, 2006 - "AGENDA" News by reporter Bulent Gunal



Urgent Duty Of Foreign Ministry
While researching through the WEB sites of Zorian Institute, you will notice that whatever biased books exist, they are all available at this institute's several branches, that they are spread throughout bookstores and even sent to house by mail.

Only in the section named "Genocide and Human Rights" (Holdwater changed the name to "Some Human Rights") you come to understand that even the director Vahakn Dadrian has unnumbered books which are used in Universities and European Parliaments for lecturing.

In Turkey too, now we have many books. Books of Yusuf Halacoglu, Gunduz Aktan, Bilal Simsir, Kamuran Gurun, book provided by ATO, the book that describes that the BLUE BOOK is fictitious, and other documents and declaration of Britain that "there is no genocide" and information, should be sent to USA and Europe.

New ambassadors should be educated with conferences so that when this subject is brought up, they can be able to explain the realities with documents.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is obligated to undertake this duty seriously and urgently. Some Civilian Organizations have done the best they could, but when the opposing side is enraged and continues without any interruptions, these are by no means sufficient. It is the duty of the Foreign Affairs Ministry to provide the truthful books to the bookstores and parliamentarians.

I repeat again the address I had given: www.ermenisorunu.gen.tr/english/Index.htm . And it is our duty to carry the responsibilities of being citizens!

Hrant Dink should make another thing as well!
Hirant Dink has criticized the voting of the Proposed Bill for Genocide in France, Until now, they were appearing in French TVs criticizing Turkey: we finally heard a criticism for France and this is good.

In reality' "distortion of history" has no relation with freedom of opinion and expression, given the fact that it would greatly effect the future of a country, and tarnish her past extensively.

No one has the right to make fictitious speeches out of their own head, saying that "I heard this from my grand-pa and grand-ma". There are documents. Accordingly, specialist historians and diplomats
seat, lay documents, study them and take a decision thereafter..

Since Hirant Dink says that in case this bill passes he will go to France and shout "there is no genocide", then, if arrested, he should also say:"if you are decent, you should seat at the table."

For whatever reason, almost like the Armenians who are very capable to make the World believe about their being right (!), Europeans as well, do not come near at all, to the right solution. And for whatever reasons Hirant Dink and friends do not pay importance to this.

Ruhat Mengi column
"VATAN" Oct.11, 2006

Note of the translator: Books in English are very few indeed. Some of referred books are in Turkish and need to be translated in several languages. While the consistent writings and outstanding efforts of Ms Ruhat Mengi is greatly appreciated, I beg to be excused to note that "like most other knowledgeable persons, she too did not got deep and extensive enough! We are lucky to have a scholar like Holdwater "provided those seriously interested read his too many extremely bright and evidencing TAT bulletins". Further varied articles, can be daily/additionally traced in the WEB site of" Turkish Armenians ( http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com )

Turkish-Armenian Journalist Calls French Bill a 'Trick'


Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink called the bill that would penalize anyone who denies the Armenian genocide in France a “trick” of those who oppose Turkey’s accession to the European Union.

Tried for ‘denigrating Turkishness through the media,’ Dink said “I will go to France, oppose that law and commit that crime if necessary.”

The Agos newspaper editor-in-chief termed the bill as “idiocy” in an interview with Reuters.

“You are citizens and your state uses this as a trump for the other party. The other party is trying to make an attempt out of this and judge other people. This is what I call idiocy. We are not obliged to be a pawn for these irrational behaviors of the states toward one another,” Dink said.

Asserting that the bill in France and his being tried in Turkey for recognizing the genocide originated from the same mentality, Dink added: “In order to object to this kind of diplomatic nonsense, I will go to France, oppose that law and commit the crime set by that law if necessary. I want this irrational mentality to compete against one another to put me in prison.”

Mesrob Mutafyan, patriarch of the Armenian church in Turkey, also opposed the bill.

Noting that any and all attempts to prevent freedom of expression, whatever the reason, would harm dialogue between Turkish and Armenian societies, Mutafyan said, “This will reinforce chauvinist elements in both parties.”

By Foreign News Desk
October 11, 2006
zaman.com



Fear of Losing $20 Billion Bid Strikes French Companies
By Economy News Desk

Commercial ties between France and Turkey are being severely threatened by the looming Armenian genocide bill in the French parliament.

The announcement of Turkish non-governmental organizations that they are to boycott French products has worried French companies tied to Ankara for military and infrastructural investments.

If the genocide bill does pass, it will be unlikely that French companies can take part in approximately $20 billion of investment projects.

The volume of trade between Turkey and France is about $10 billion. According to 2005 reports, French exports to Turkey are $5.9 billion while its import remains at $3.8 billion.

The nearly 300 French companies operating in Turkey employ 40,000 people. Turkey is the fifth-largest customer of France outside the European Union.

France could be hit hard in transportation, energy, defense and supply projects. An example is the Nuclear power plant to be built in Sinop, worth approximately $5 billion, an investment in which the French are known to have been interested. American, Canadian, British and German companies have shown similar interested in the project.

French companies also appear on the short list of prospective companies for the $2 billion contract for vehicles for the Istanbul Metro System. A significant number of vehicles to be used on subway lines in Istanbul, Izmir, Konya, and Kayseri, along with other metropolitan municipalities, are made by French companies.

It seems inevitable that French companies, which have cooperated with the undersecretariat of the defense industry and in particular with TAI (Turkish Aircraft Industries), and who are making great contributions to the supply demands of the Turkish Armed Forces, will be troubled by hurt relations if the bill becomes law.

It is known that the Eurocopter Company of France, which has bid for the undersecretariat of the defense industry for 52 helicopters, is in a good position and on the short list made by the undersecretariat.

It is also not a secret that some French companies are closely interested in important supply projects, like unmanned aircrafts and submarine rescue ships that are in the investment program of the undersecretariat.

Large Turkish Projects with French Interest
* $2 billion worth of vehicles to be used on Istanbul subway lines.
* Nuclear power plant to be launched in Sinop with a $5 billion investment.
* Vehicles for metropolitan subway lines.
* Defense Ministry bid for 52 helicopters.
* Unmanned aircrafts and submarine rescue ships.
* Proposal for a third bridge on the Bosphorus and a second metro passageway.
* Suspension bridge for Izmit Bay.
* Telecommunication and signaling projects, and vehicles and devices to be used in heavy and light metro constructions.
* Suburban trains, the railway project between Kars and Tbilisi; and state railway electric fast train lines

October 11, 2006
zaman.com




Finnish Assembly President Support Turkey over French Bill

The Party of European Socialists (PES) has said that it feels uneasy about the bill envisaging punishment for a denial of the Armenian genocide.

Finnish Assembly President Paavo Lipponen, also the president of the advisory board of the PES Turkey Group, said, “the so-called Armenian genocide will never be a criterion for Turkey’s membership to the EU.”

He used “the so-called Armenian genocide” phrase during his entire speech and worried about the consequences of the bill’s passage.

Lipponen noted that he would take the matter up with François Hollande, the secretary general of France’s Socialist Party, a member of PES.

Asking Turkey to open its Armenian border, he went on to say that Turkey should be reconciled with its past. Supporting Turkey’s full membership and opposing a privileged partnership, he also praised the Justice and Development Party (AKP) as a “real reformist party.”

“There are many more things to be undertaken in the direction of economic and social growth; however, this party has contributed a great deal to the development of Turkish society,” he remarked.

Without naming it, he also criticized the Turkish opposition People’s Republic Party (CHP) by saying, “I hope all the parties in the Turkish parliament adopt a positive approach in terms of supporting the government for the continuation of the reforms.”

He also expressed his concern about the rise of Turkish nationalism, adding that “issues related to the EU are being exploited.”

By Suleyman Kurt, Ankara
October 11, 2006
zaman.com





Angry with Homeland, French Historian Applies for Turkish Citizenship
Famous French historian Jean-Michel Thibaux has applied for Turkish citizenship saying that his country is blackmailing Turkey.

The historian’s attempt to become a Turkish citizen has been discovered by Mehmet Dulger, president of the Commission of Foreign Affairs at the Turkish Grand National Assembly.

The letter Thibaux penned was given to Mehmet Dulger by a friend named Atakan. Dulger disclosed this to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday.

Dulger said the prime minister wanted the matter to be immediately forwarded to the Ministry of Interior for the application’s immediate assessment.

In his e-mail to his friend Atakan, Thibaux blamed France for blackmailing Turkey. He claims that he is revolting against France’s ‘cheap’ policy.

“When they attempted to force Turkey into the recognition of the genocide six years ago, I had taken upon myself the task of defending Turkey. Chirac still says that ‘if it wants to enter the EU, Turkey should act in this direction.’ I would like to tell my Turkish friends that there is a blackmailing situation here and just as six years ago; the unexplained reason why they are following this cheap policy is only to obtain the vote of the people of Armenian origin living in France, and I’m rising up against this!”


‘Turks Can Teach Us Many Things’
Accordingly, Turkey has now got the right to ask that the genocide perpetrated during the French Revolution in 1789 be recognized, Thibaux said.

“Hundreds of thousands of French people were killed during those bloody years. People were decapitated by the guillotine in the name of freedom, equality and fraternity. In this respect, we can blame America for displacing and slaughtering millions of American Indians, and Spain for destroying the indigenous civilizations in Central and South America.”

The French historian continued: “Sons cannot be blamed for what their fathers have done. It’s high time we stopped pointing at Turks with our index finger. They are in a position to give us lessons on many things. I love Turkey and I’m one of the few people among European intellectuals who defend it. If the Turkish government approves my application and accepts me, Turkey will be my homeland.”

By Fatih Atik, Ankara
October 11, 2006
zaman.com




French Ruling Party to Abstain from Armenian Bill Vote
The French ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) has condemned Socialist Party (PS) for a bill that was tabled by PS, declaring that the UMP would absent itself from the vote.

French Foreign Ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei stated that the bill, which penalizes those who deny the alleged Armenian genocide during World War I, was unnecessary according to their point of view.

The UMP, however, agreed to support draft resolution of Patrick Devedjian, Deputy Minister of Interior, on the controversial Armenian bill. Devedjian had proposed that historians should be exempted from punishment.

The draft bill, which was originally brought before the French parliament in May, is to be debated again on Thursday.

By Cihan News Agency
October 11, 2006
zaman.com




Decision Day in Paris
The Paris Court of Appeals will deliver their verdict today in the case opened by Armenians against Aydin Sezgin, the Turkish Consul General in Paris, for rejecting the alleged Armenian genocide on the consulate’s Internet site.

Sezgin’s lawyers asked for the dismissal of the case by reason of Sezgin’s diplomatic immunity provided by the Vienna Convention.

A Paris court had previously found Sezgin not guilty of the charges, a ruling that was immediately appealed by Armenians.

Sezgin is expected to win the case once again.

October 11, 2006
zaman.com




Armenia Threatens Severe Fines for Genocide Unbelievers
As the French Parliament is preparing to vote on a bill to penalize the rejection of the purported Armenian genocide Thursday, the Armenian Parliament passed a similar bill this week.

The parliament made a series of amendments to the Armenian Penal Code, Armenia’s Yerkir News Agency said.

“Penalizing the genocide” is also among the amendments.

Terming the 1915 incidents as genocide, Yerevan set the penalty for those who “deny the genocide” as a minimum fine of 100 to 300 times the minimum wage in Armenia or a prison sentence up to four years.

Authorities state this is the first such law in Armenia.

Pointing out it is not a crime in Turkey to say “I recognize the Armenian genocide” yet similar cases were opened for “insulting Turkishness,” authorities said no Armenian historian would be able to reject the “genocide” if they should join the joint history commission proposed by Ankara.

By Suleyman Kurt, Ankara
October 11, 2006
zaman.com





Surprise Postponement of 'Genocide' Case Against Sezgin
A computer malfunction caused the Paris Court of Appeals to postpone the hearing of Aydin Sezgin, Turkish consulate to Paris, in the case opened against him for allegedly denying the so-called genocide on the consulate’s website.

Aydin Sezgin’s lawyers had demanded the dismissal of the case on the grounds of Sezgin’s diplomatic immunity based on the Vienna Convention. Attorneys representing Armenian organizations had claimed that Nazim Hikmet was expatriated when he recognized the so-called Armenian Genocide.

The Paris 17th District Court, where the case was first seen, ruled in 2004 that Sezgin could not be tried due to his diplomatic immunity. Armenians later took the case to Supreme Court of Appeals. Sources say that the Armenians are attempting to keep pressure in favor of the bill that calls for penalizing those who deny the so-called Armenian Genocide by keeping the case on agenda.

At the final hearing on Sept. 6, French prosecutors demanded that the case be rejected on the grounds of diplomatic immunity of Sezgin.

"We lost the case"
Advocate of Organization for Defense of Armenian Cause (CDCA), Serge Tavitian, noted that Turkish intellectuals have made efforts recently for recognition of the so-called genocide, and claimed that Nazim Hikmet was expatriated when he recognized the so-called Armenian Genocide in 1959. When Zaman from where he based this information, Tavitian replied: “I would not make this up. I read it in an article in Le Monde. But I do not remember the columnist and the date.”

After the hearing, in an exchange of opinion on the case’s progress, lawyers for the CDCA commented that they have already lost the case.

October 11, 2006
zaman.com




France Was In No Position To Lecture Turkey, Erdogan Said
ANKARA - The draft legislation by the French parliament that would make in a criminal offence to deny the so-called Armenian genocide was undemocratic and would harm relations between Turkey and France if approved, according to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In a telephone conversation last week, Erdogan spoke to Nicolas Sarkozy, the French Interior & Regional Development Minister and one of the supporters of the legislation, which is to be voted on in the French parliament Thursday.

According to sources close to the Prime Ministers office, Erdogan said that such a resolution would not tally with democracy and freedoms and that was unacceptable. He also rejected a proposal put forward by the French Minister that only historians should join the commission to be set up to investigate allegations of so-called genocide, Turkey should annul Article 301 of the Penal Code and Turkey should open its borders with Armenia.

Turkey has proposed that a committee be established to investigate allegations of massacred of Armenians during the First World War, though this has been turned down by Armenia.

Erdogan is reported to have said that Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, which covers the crime of insulting Turkish identity, has no link to the issue at hand and that Turkey had been open and transparent about the allegations.

He also said that France was not in a position to make allegations about genocide or to pass a law ruling that the denial of genocide allegations was a crime “France is not in a condition to say a word to Turkey. It should first look at itself,” Erdogan was quoted as saying.

11 October 2006
http://www.ntvmsnbc.com




Turkish Pm Erdogan On Genocide In Algeria: We Will Not Make The Same Mistake
By Tuluhan BAHAR (JTW)

ANKARA - Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan in the meeting of his party, called for taking a line against France and reminded the period of time between the start of Algeria Independence War and the cease-fire. Upon the suggestions of acknowledging the Algerian Genocide committed by France in Turkish Parliament after France's attempt to recognise the Armenian claims as truth and punishing those who reject to accept, Turkish PM Erdogan said "we will not respond them by making the same mistake."

However most of the Turkish parliamenterians support the draft bill on Algerian genocide committed by France.

The Parliament's Justice Commission will debate this week proposals that foresee penalties for any denial of the killings of Algerians under French colonial rule (Algerian Genocide), after France's renewed attempts to pass a similar bill calling for five years in jail to anyone who rejects the claimed 'genocide' of Armenians under the Ottoman rule almost a century ago.

Members of the parliamentary commission will discuss the proposals today, a day before the French bill is debated at the National Assembly in Paris.

The Turkish proposals were put forward by independent deputy Mahmut Kocak, opposition Motherland Party (ANAVATAN) deputies Reyhan Balandi and Ibrahim Ozdogan.

Koksal Toptan, head of the Justice Commission, told the Turkish Anatolia news agency that Turkey always attributed high importance to its relations with France and kept its ties with that country at high level.

“But it seems that France does not seem to be influenced by Turkey's [constructive] stance,” he said and claimed that the French attitude would damage Turkish-French ties, as well as Turkish-Armenian ties.

Toptan said it was out of the question for Turkey to accept the French initiative, while the European Union was demanding Turkey to advance freedom of expression and ignored Turkish calls to discuss the genocide allegations at a joint commission of historians.

In remarks published in Turkish daily Sabah over the weekend, Toptan said he had initially ignored the proposals in question that were submitted in May -- apparently in reaction to the debate in France.

“I just swept them under the carpet,” he reportedly said.

But following renewed attempts in France to pass the bill on the claimed Armenian 'genocide', Toptan said he had ordered that the proposals be put on the commission's agenda for Wednesday.

“If the French parliament is acting like that, we must give a response ... in the name of our pride,” he said.

Asked by Anatolia whether the proposals would be approved, Toptan said it depended on the assessment of the commission.

According to Fatma Yilmaz from USAK, "most of the Turkish parliamenterians and Turkish people support the draft bill on Algerian Genocide committed by France". "There is no doubt the Turks believe in that France massacred more than 1,5 million Algerians" she added. However Dr. Sedat Laciner, director of the Ankara-based Turkish think tank USAK, told the JTW "Turkey should not follow the French way":

"I personally believe that the French massacres in Algeria cannot be compared with the Armenian and Turkish tragedies of 1915. More than 1,5 million unarmed Algerians were slaughtered by the French armies. However this is matter of historians and political sientists, not the MPs. If the Armenians were right, they should have applied the courts, not the French Parliament. The French parliament could be the last place that can question the Turkish history. And Turkish Parliament should not make the same mistake by following the French".

11 October 2006
www.turkishweekly.net




Algerians Welcome Turkey's Draft Bill
By Ali Ihsan Aydin

PARIS - Algeria welcomed a draft bill submitted to the Turkish Parliament for recognition of the French killings in Algeria as “genocide”.

Algerian Parliament Foreign Relations Commission Head Reguieg Bentabet thanked the Turkish deputies who brought the issue to the government’s agenda.

Bentabet stated he discussed the issue with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his visit to Algeria in June, and voiced his full agreement for the move.

Speaking to Zaman, Turkish daily, Bentabet pointed out that France is unwilling to “recognize the genocide conducted in Algeria.”

Noting that France is now attempting to evaluate Turkey’s history, Bentabet called this a “double standard.”

Asserting that they want France to recognize its mass killings as genocide, the Algerian politician said Paris is silent at the moment, but Algeria will keep insisting for recognition of the genocide.

Bentabet noted that the long-awaited friendship agreement between the two countries has yet to be signed.

French daily, La Tribune published an article on the issue and commented “The Turkish Parliament will defend Algeria’s history and benefits.”

* Draft to be Discussed by Justice Commission

The Turkish Parliamentary Justice Commission will discuss the draft bill on Tuesday to adopt May 8 as a commemoration day for France’s genocide in Algeria.

In the event the bill passes, May 8 will be declared commemoration day for the Algerian genocide, and those rejecting the genocide will be sentenced to up to five years imprisonment and fined 100,000 Turkish Lira.

In the bill, the genocide against the Algerian people is defined as France’s “inhuman actions against Algerians in the cities of Setif, Guelma and Kherrata on 8 May 1945.”

Three different bills on the issue were submitted to the Parliament in May.

Commission Head Koksal Toptan said they could no longer ignore the bills that have been pending for five months after France’s recent attempts.

11 October 2006
www.turkishweekly.net




Genocide Bill Takes France Back To Middle Ages
Reactions are gradually mounting against French legislation that would outlaw denials that the World War I-era killings of Armenians amounted to a genocide.

Noting that France has been the pioneer of freedom of expression since 1789, Turkey Associations and Stock Markets Union (TOBB) President Rifat Hisarciklioglu commented that any attempts to prevent debates about the alleged genocide would turn France back to the Middle Ages. The so-called Armenian Genocide Bill brought to the agenda in May is pointless, Hisarciklioglu said.

He repeated the proposal that the genocide be debated and dealt with on a scientific platform after the archives in Turkey and Armenia were thoroughly analyzed and he added Armenia distances itself from the issue.

Ankara Industrialists Association (ASO) President Zafer Caglayan warned France not to endanger commercial relations, and called on Turkish citizens not to burn French goods in the streets.

“You mention justice, human rights and freedom of expression, yet on the other side you say, ‘If you mention it, I will charge you.’ Then, I will arrive in France to be accused and say that there is no Armenian genocide, which is a fallacy.”

Caglayan stated he would approach France on the subject by citing trade figures that France will deprive of .

There are lots of ventures attracting French businessmen, especially in the defense industry, aviation, energy and dam tenders in Turkey, he emphasized. He added that French businessmen should take notice that they would fail to win privatization tenders and make any investment in the future.

Meanwhile, Turk-Is Syndicate President Salih Kilic sent a letter to Secretary-General of the European Trade Union Confederation, John Monks.

Reacting to the bill, Kilic recalled that 300,000 Armenians live in France and the presidential elections will be held in 2007.

In his letter, Kilic wrote: “It is unacceptable that a country is insulted for the sake of political interests. The ones criticizing the 301st article of Turkish Penal Code in Turkey ignore one of the Europe’s main principles, ‘freedom of expression’, which is an explicit double standard.”

11 October 2006
By Ercan Baysal, Kayseri
www.zaman.com




French Vote On
With the French Parliament preparing for an October 12 vote on the so-called "Armenian genocide denial bill," EU officials have sprung to action. Olli Rehn, the EU Commissioner for Expansion, has issued stern warnings to the French Parliament on the eve of their vote for a bill which would, if passed, make public denial of Armenian genocide claims a crime.

In a written statement this week, Rehn called on French parliamentarians to "take responsibility," and noted that a law against denying the genocide would "rather than expand dialogue between Turkey and the EU, only affect this dialogue negatively."

Among points Rehn underscored in his written statements were also that a French vote in favor of making the genocide bill a law would "damage steps taken toward freedom of thought and expression in Turkey." Said Rehn on this front "We want a bit more freedom of thought in Turkey, but France, with its own laws, is limiting this freedom in France."

EU's Barroso joins in warning
Rehn was joined in his warnings to France by EU Commission Head Jose Barroso, who told press members in Brussels yesterday that he thought new criteria and conditions should not be brought out to be put in front of Turkey.

11 October 2006
www.hurriyet.com.tr




Mesrob II: Initiatives To Boost Mutual Understanding Needed
ISTANBUL - "There should be initiatives to boost mutual understanding and dialogue," Armenian Patriarch in Turkey Mesrob II said in regard to French bill which aims to criminalize denial of so-called Armenian genocide that will be voted in the French parliament (on October 12th).

Releasing a statement, Mesrob II underlined that all countries, especially Turkey and Armenia, should make necessary arrangements to discuss and examine the matter (so-called Armenian genocide).

Indicating that all efforts hampering freedom of expression would harm the process of dialogue between Turkish and Armenian communities, Mesrob II stressed: "initiatives to boost mutual understanding, dialogue and empathy should be undertaken without wasting time."

11 October 2006
www.turkishpress.com




The Armenian Issue In The Netherlands: The Remove Of The Three Turkish-Originated Mps From The Candidacy List (NERMIN AYDEMIR)
The Armenian issue is nowadays quite popular in Europe. The French brought a legislation regarding banning all the counter arguments against the so-called Armenian genocide. If it is passed, rejecting the so-called genocide, will be penalized either by casting into prison or by substantial money punishments. Discussions go on in the Netherlands after the three Turkish originated MP candidates (Erdin Sacan-labour party, Ayhan Tonca and Osman Elmaci from Christian democratic party) have been removed from the candidate list just because of not accepting the existence of so-called Armenian genocide. A similar thing had happened to Derya Bulduk, who was a candidate from the FDF (Democratic front of the Francophones) in Belgium.

The two mainstream parties claim that the Netherlands accepted the so-called Armenian genocide and base their[1] decisions on the recommendatory decision on 21 December 2004, recognizing the existence of the so called genocide.

According to the General Assembly decision of the UN in 1948, genocide is defined as; killing members of a group, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about physical destruction in whole or in part, imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group, and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

The chair of ISRO, Sedat Laciner (Laciner, 2005) defines genocide as the worst crime a human being can ever do, which I completely agree with. Nevertheless, the ugliness of the case does not give the right to accuse anyone with this crime and taking it for granted without substantiating such arguments on valid evidences. Being against genocide is one thing, and using genocide for some political ends is another thing. Sometimes we put critical thinking completely aside and defend democratic values and norms so blindly that this adherence can become a deficit to democracy itself.

We have evidences of the Holocaust and see it as among the worst, maybe the worst case in humanity. But do we really have such proofs regarding the Armenian issue? What if, the Armenians were not tortured?!

Thousands of people die in Sudan right now, Israel killed thousands of other just two months before. People died in Rwanda, former Yugoslavia and many other places for just being a member of a particular group. Why do we turn a blind eye to all these and are so much insistent on restricting an unproven case?

The Turkish side has opened all its archives. And are very much eager to form common committees for searching the issue. Turkish PM Erdogan has underlined the willingness of searching this topic in many occasions. Despite all these, keeping away from all scientific enquiries and imposing such a heavy accusation leads to many suspicions.

The Armenian state does not recognize the Lausanne treaty, on which the Turkish Republic is grounded. In other words, Armenia does not accept the current borders of Turkey. The Armenian state names the North East part of Turkey as the West Armenia and makes claims on these territories in its constitution. Robert Kocaryan, the PM of Armenia, states that these territorial gains can be done in peaceful manners (Ibid).

Are all these done for the sake of democracy or is the democratic sensitiveness used for further aims?! It is highly confusing; why do not we talk about what the Dutch did in Indonesia and Surinam, French did in Algeria, Spain did in South America if we are so eager to account for our faults in past ?

Apart from these, the migration policy of the Ottoman Empire is very irrelevant to the genocide claims. Ottomans failed in providing healthy conditions during this depart but why should a send all the members of an ethnicity away if it really aims a genocide? The Nazi rule did not send the Jews away, but brought the Jewish to its concentration camps from all around the world.

The Netherlands
A very critical approach is on rise in the Netherlands in particular and Europe in general. Although it is not very acceptable to discriminate openly, discrimination becomes legalized when it is made by reference to “democratic values”. For instance, if someone criticizes Moroccans in some way under the general classification of Moroccans, s/he will probably be strictly criticized. Nevertheless, when Fortuyn said that gays were under threat due to the Moroccan gangs he was very much backed. Similarly, opposing Islam itself will be not so much welcomed. But people get credit if they manage to hinder such points of view under the democratic doctrine. Specifically, the argument of the repression of women under the Islamic doctrine is in many times welcomed without a slightest degree of critical thinking. The same thing is valid for the expel of the Turkish originated candidates. The party leaders are really appreciated as the guardians of democratic principles!!!

With regard to the decisions of the CDA and the PvdA; has a party have the right to ask its members to share a common vision on this topic? Party members have more or less similar positions and it is quite natural to demand from these people to share a common vision. For instance, there is no point in defending capitalism in a highly communist party. Nevertheless, we need different opinions in democratic systems, also within the party.

The party position can not legitimize removing candidates from a party list just because they have a point of view on a particular topic; which is not a central in the party doctrine, open to debate, and apparently not against the party doctrine. In the EP report, Turkey is criticized due to the 301th article, which limits the freedom of expression. It is true, Turkey has to improve its conditions in such aspects just as the other European states have to. However, people can be sent to jail or removed from candidacy lists in the founding member states. This is a shame indeed.

The Armenian lobby is certainly quite effective in the international field. But I personally do not believe the high influence of an Armenian lobby in the Dutch society. The so-called Armenian genocide has become quite trendy (!) in European politics. Nevertheless some interior political aspects take place, as well. People still talk the rise of Pim Fortuyn in 2002. Even the most liberal parties have shifted to an anti immigration perspective afterwards.

The Dutch Christian Appeal and labour party make some miscalculations at this point. According to the official givens, 300 thousand Turkish people live in this country, and many have the Dutch citizenship. A substantial number of Turkish originated people has the right to vote in this country. Expelling Turkish candidates will evidently not give way to support by the Turkish society in this country. It is not a very well advised stance to annoy such a big proportion just before the elections.

No doubt however, the Turkish minority in Europe is very less interested in politics and away from defending their interests in discussions. The Turkish MPs carry great importance for both their ethnicities and their residual countries at this point. These people need to be represented on the parliamentary level as well as many other aspects of life. Integration of these people and a peaceful co-existence in this country cannot only be provided by sociological researches, no matter how successful they are. We need successful Dutch-Turkish people in politics, academic field, business, sport, arts, etc.

At this point, it is worth bringing into attention that while cars were put into fire in France and several other neighbor countries, the Netherlands was quite still. This was not a coincidence. All in all, the minority groups in the Dutch society are much better integrated to the major society in many aspects. However, we do not have a guarantee that this will be the case forever. The removed MP candidates do not only carry significance for the Turkish minority, but are also very much important to the Netherlands. The Dutch government has gold in its hands indeed. We cannot continue living within boundaries and within just one culture in an era of globalization. Countries need bilinguals in the contemporary world.

Concluding Remarks:
The Dutch society made important progression after the uneasy days regarding the tension between minority and majority. The Dutch establishment and society are among the most tolerable people with their multicultural doctrine. Therefore, it is highly disappointing that all these occur in this country. The decision of those parties are rather ill-given in the stressful atmosphere of elections than representing the Dutch opinion in general. The Netherlands is geographically little, but there are many other indexes of measuring how big a country is. A country, sending its soldiers to Uruzgan, one of the most dangerous places in Afghanistan, apparently has some significant ambitions in the international arena. The Netherlands can take many initiatives in line with its worldwide positive reputation rather than just copying what the trends without searching the reality.

11 October 2006
www.turkishweekly.net




Patronising Turkey is a dangerous game for Europe
Europe is doing its level best to tell Turkey it is no longer wanted as part of the European Union. It is a high-risk game with little to gain and a great deal to lose. How much longer will this sec-ular, democratic, Muslim country look westwards to a European future, instead of turning east?

Take the proclamation by Jacques Chirac, president of France, on a recent visit to Armenia. Indulging his hosts and delighting the politically active Armenian diaspora in France, Mr Chirac said Turkey should recognise the massacre of hundreds of thousands of Armenians in the turmoil of the first world war as "genocide". In doing so, he unilaterally created a new condition of EU membership for Turkey. This is rather like Tony Blair popping up in Madagascar or Algeria and telling France to apologise for the postwar massacres undertaken by French soldiers as they put down uprisings.

The Armenian massacres are a dreadful scar in the memory of that proud people, torn apart by the many wars and foreign interventions of the 20th century. But it was the decaying elements of the Ottoman Empire that killed the Armenians, not the modern Turkish Republic. If the EU is to demand apologies for historic misdeeds from its existing members, let alone potential members, then it may as well dissolve itself.

After Mr Chirac's statement, Olli Rehn, EU enlargement commissioner, reiterated that recognition of a genocide is not an official precondition of membership. It was a welcome correction. But how do you explain away the European Commission president, José Manuel Barroso, saying that the era of EU enlargement is over?

This problem goes beyond the bluster of bureaucrats in Brussels or an elderly French president on his way out of office. In April 2004, European foreign ministers solemnly agreed to open trade links with northern Cyprus. They have broken that promise. I took part in that negotiation, and I find it shameful that powerful European states are unable to enforce their own decisions.

Turkey wakes up almost every month to find a new hurdle on its path to Europe. The mishandling of "the Turkish question" would seem laugh-able were it not so important. The implicit repudiation of its European ambitions is already fuelling support for radical groups in Turkish domestic politics who argue that Europe is reneging on its pledge to negotiate seriously. This matters because Turkey is pivotal to Britain and other European states realising their interests overseas. Today, scores of thousands of Europe's best soldiers are fighting the anti-democratic forces of jihadist terror networks from the shores of Lebanon to the frontier mountains of Pakistan. If Europe wants to promote democracy in the region, Turkey is an indispensable ally.

Turkey, of course, does much to drive its friends in the west quite mad. The trials of writers and journalists are an insult to any notion of democracy. The occupation of northern Cyprus and refusal to normalise relations with Nicosia is intolerable - but is likely to last forever if Europe continues to patronise the Turks. However, the enormous progress in rule of law, freedom of intellectual activity and the defence of the secular state against illiberal religious fundamentalism remains an important advance in the struggle to defend democracy.

Europe cannot rely on its loyalty because Turkey has alternatives. It can create a Black Sea alliance with Vladimir Putin's increasingly authoritarian Russia. It could even forge a coalition with a nuclear-armed Iran; the neighbours have rarely threatened each other in the past. There are energy-rich republics to Turkey's east that share its language and culture. Islamists in Turkey have long advocated a rapprochement with Pakistan to create a crescent of influence and power linking a series of Islamic states governed by strong semi-military regimes. An independent Turkey, free of ties to the EU, could also clash with European foreign policy goals by aggressively pursuing its interests in the Mediterranean or the Middle East.

Turkey's friends need to lead a diplomatic offensive to ensure the EU honours its obligations. Leaving Turkey turning on the spit of European debate - roasted by condescension, ignorance and hostility - will transform one of Europe's greatest assets into a source of conflict and tension. For good or ill Europe is now intervening in a region full of problems in Iran, Iraq and Israel-Palestine. Making an enemy of Turkey will make solving any of these problems far more difficult.

By Denis Macshane
October 11 2006
Financial Times
The writer is Labour MP for Rotherham. He was Europe minister between 2002 and 2005




Erdogan appeals to EU to stop France

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday called on the European Union to stop the French Parliament from making what he called a "great mistake."

Speaking at a parliamentary group meeting yesterday, the prime minister issued hard warnings to France, whose Parliament will vote later this week on a law that would punish denials of the Armenian "genocide" made within the country's borders.

"A wrong step on Thursday would change many things for France and not for Turkey," said Erdogan.
But, partly encouraged by recent remarks by European Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn, he said that European Union could do something to prevent it.

"The French initiative to turn a historical lie into a law is in great defiance of the EU's fundamental values. The most valuable asset of the Copenhagen criteria is freedom of thought and expression. So when a scholar says, 'This is contrary to scholarly and historical fact' and this is considered a crime, then where is the freedom of expression? Moreover, how can France be part of a problem between Turkey and Armenia?" Erdogan asked.

He said that international politics cannot be conducted while ignoring scientific and historical documents.
He recalled that Turkey had offered Armenia an examination of the issue through a commission composed of historians, political scientists and archaeologists, but got no response whatsoever.

Erdogan also said that France should take a look at what happened in Algeria between 1954 and 1962.

Asserting that political stability has come to Turkey during the last four years, Erdogan said that the country has made great progress in opening itself to the world as far as foreign politics are concerned.

"Since when does France think that it is its duty to take a role in the difference of opinion between Turkey and Armenia? The world is no longer an imperialist system," he said.

Social stability
What needs to be done now is to provide social stability in Turkey, Erdogan said, passing on to domestic issues after the Armenian "genocide" question with France.

"Turkey has long been in need of social restoration; we have to make a leap forward. We have to maintain the common denominators that bring us together. We have to move away from debate that might wear down our social solidarity," he said.

"We have to stop our republican values from becoming a factor of social discord," he added.

TNA Parliament Bureau
11 October 2006
www.thenewanatolian.com




Baykal lashes out at France, advocates 301
Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal yesterday told his party's deputies that he's very dissapointed with the current political trend in France.

It's painful for us to see the children of Rousseau, Montesquieu and Voltaire advocating an idea against freedom of thought, said the CHP leader at yesterday's party group meeting.

"France's move isn't compatible with freedom and being civilized," charged Baykal who then criticized French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy's proposal to withdraw his support of the approval of the Armenian bill in the French Parliament.

Sarkozy added three conditions to withdrawing his support which were conveyed to Ankara during telephone diplomacy with Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan last Tuesday.

Baykal said that Turkey shouldn't take such proposals into consideration.

He then changed the subject to controversial Turkish Penal Code (TCK) Article 301, asking CHP deputies if they understand now why the Europeans want Turkey to annul the article.

"If you respect freedom of thought, you should first cancel that bill," said Baykal, referring to a bill that would make it a crime in France to question an Armenian "genocide."

He also said that several European countries have similar articles. and that there are people who say they are confused about the behavior of a social democrat party like the CHP defending Article 301. He then referred to French socialists being behind the bill in question in France.

The New Anatolian / Ankara
11 October 2006




Intl relations experts urge against hasty action
Amid the war of words over France's Armenian "genocide" bill, several Turkish deputies known for their interest in international relations yesterday warned against massive retaliation towards France or passing a law on an Algerian genocide by France.

Yasar Yakis, the head of the Turkish Parliamentary European Union Harmonization Commission, yesterday changed his hard line and said that Turkey should think twice before taking a step to counter France's move.

Yakis, along with main opposition party's Sukru Elekdag, on Monday proposed expelling some 70,000 illegal Armenian workers if the French Parliament approves a bill on the so-called Armenian genocide.

However Yakis yesterday ruled out both a bill to recognize Algerian genocide and a proposal to expel illegal Armenian workers. "Such a bill would punish Armenians, not France," said Yakis, adding that the proposal came from Elekdag, a former ambassador.

"If there was something to be called genocide in Algeria, not Turkey, Algerians should first enact a law recognizing this," said Yakis opposing the bill. "If an Algerian rejects the existence of genocide in his country, what would Turkey say to the world then?" he asked also urging all segments of the country starting from lawmakers to cool down and think again before reacting.

The bill proposing recognizing of what France did in Algeria as genocide is set to be debated in Parliament's Justice Commission today.

Parliament's Foreign Affairs Commission head Mehmet Dulger underlined that if the bill is passed Turkey will be no different than France.

He offered an economic boycott instead. Also commenting on Monday's hot issue, expelling illegal Armenian workers, he said that it's not possible. "Besides, our concern in mentioning this fact was not to play the Armenian workers card against France. When we told our French counterparts about illegal workers they didn't believe it, they don't know it," he said adding that almost 90 percent of those who will vote on the controversial bill in France don't know about relations between Armenia and Turkey.

Arabaslik: Parliament speaker express regret over French bill

Parliament Speaker Bulent Arinc expressed great regret about the French move, also calling it a heavy blow to the Turkey's determination to become a part of the EU, but said this should not cause Turkey to lose its enthusiasm to join the EU despite all efforts to the contrary.

Right-wing True Path Party (DYP) deputy leader Nuzhet Kandemir, touching on another vital aspect of the issue, warned that Turkey bringing the so-called Armenian genocide claims to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) may end up with grave outcomes against the country.

"Turkey was already late to counterbalance the claims of Armenian diaspora on the issue," he said and added that if the French Parliament passes the bill it would encourage several other countries and that the ECHR would reach a verdict against Turkey.

"The only way to push back the claims is to show determination," he said. "The DYP will support the government if it decides to implement economic and social sanctions against France," he added.

He also touched on the role of the Armenian diaspora, calling the so-called Armenian genocide claims a notion promoted to maintain the Armenian spirit among the Armenians throughout the world.

Another strong reaction against the French bill came from the judiciary yesterday. Istanbul Bar head Kazim Kolcuoglu called upon French lawmakers to think twice about their move, which he said is an attempt to politicize scholarship.

Kolcuoglu also said that the Armenian genocide claims run contrary to historical record and the facts, and that that tragedy cannot be called genocide.

Kolcuoglu said that the France move, if achieved, will eradicate freedom of thought and will be clear proof that France has turned into a totalitarian country.

The New Anatolian / Ankara
11 October 2006




Lipponen: French proposal is unfair
Finland's Parliament Speaker Paavo Lipponen, during his visit to Ankara on Tuesday, urged French lawmakers not to adopt the controversial Armenian bill and thus play into the hands of hardliners in Turkey already seeking to end both the European Union and reform processes.

Lipponen, in an interview with The New Anatolian yesterday, described the French bill that would make it a crime to question the Armenian genocide claims as "unfair." Lipponen said he would contact the French socialist group and urge them not to back the controversial bill that could have serious negative impacts for Turkey and Europe.

Former Finnish Prime Minister Lipponen, who lead efforts during the 1999 Helsinki summit to recognize Turkey as an EU candidate country, was in Ankara as the head of the Party of European Socialists' (PES) High-Level Advisory Group.

Lipponen and other members of the group urged Turkey to speed up the reform process and its implementation and be flexible on the EU's compromise formula on Cyprus during their meetings with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Justice Minister Cemil Cicek. But the group faced criticism from Turkish officials over the French Parliament's recent move which is creating major frustration among the Turkish public for what is perceived as "double standards" on the issues of freedom of expression and the Cyprus problem.

Paavo Lipponen, in an interview with TNA, stressed that Turkey should remain calm despite such incidents and continue to work on reforms and efforts for Cyprus solution, first in the interests of the Turkish people and then to strengthen the hands of those in Europe who support Turkey's EU membership.

"We are concerned about the French Socialist proposal. If it's adopted, it might result in serious consequences," Lipponen said. "It will encourage hardliners in Turkey, those against Turkey's EU membership and reform process."

The Finnish Parliament speaker continued,

"It is not quite fair to ask for the legal recognition of something in a country's law that has nothing to do with dealing with history. Many countries in the EU have not adequately deal with their own pasts; dealing with the past should be done with the purpose of reconciliation, as we have seen in South Africa. Really terrible things happened there; that is the finest example of how things related to the past have to be dealt with."

On EU Term President Finland's proposals aimed at avoiding a crisis between the EU and Turkey due to the Cyprus problem later this month, Lipponen was optimistic. Asked whether he could also play a role in ongoing diplomacy, Lipponen replied,

"Well, this is in the hands of the Finnish Presidency, our government. Now I can only communicate to them what I have learned during this visit. The Turkish side has confirmed its readiness to seriously consider the Finnish proposals."

During a press conference yesterday, Lipponen also commented on recent the debates over secularism in Turkey. The Finnish Parliament speaker underlined that the "secular nature of Turkey" is of fundamental importance for the Europeans, but also stressed that Turkey has to align its civil-military relations with those of the Union during its EU process. Lipponen underlined that the EU doesn't intend to make it difficult for Turkey to maintain its secular principles, but refrained from making more detailed comments on the issue.

Ayhan Simsek - The New Anatolian / Ankara
11 October 2006




A humble call to Europe: Stick the needle in yourself first ...
There is Turkish proverb that goes, "Stick a needle in yourself first to see how much it hurts before you thrust a packing needle into others."

The significance therein has always been my guiding principle, or motto, in life. Accordingly, I candidly try never to forget that every criticism, unless presided by self-criticism, is inevitably unreliable.

Sometimes I sincerely question whether we, the Turks, have become oversensitive and reactionary, whether we are indeed slaves to our excessive concerns. And whether rationality in my country is being increasingly replaced by psychological reflection ...

Perhaps ...

Nevertheless, each time I try to ponder these delicate issues a new man of genius appears in Europe who proves thinking this way is categorically wrong, who forces me to believe that certain European politicians or European Union authorities are neither sincere nor honest. I emphasize "certain" since I know that they don't and cannot represent the whole of Europe. But what about the ordinary Turks? Are they also selective? I regret to say that the mental process of ordinary Turks, by and large, functions in terms of generalizations, as the man on the street in each country does around the globe. In fact, herein lurks the real and rapidly growing danger!

Let me clarify what I mean by referring to two actual episodes:

A short while ago, the Turkish government demanded the exclusion of Greek Cypriot Deputy Marios Matsakis from a European Parliament delegation that was to come to Ankara for meetings with the Turkish ministers of the environment, health, agriculture and energy. After this demand was refused, Turkey declared the visit postponed.

What were Turkey's actual motives in asking for Matsakis' exclusion?

Readers will probably remember Matsakis. He earlier drew protest by stealing a Turkish flag from a border post on the island of Cyprus and insulting the Turkish Parliament and military during his visit to Ankara. His personal reputation in Southern Cyprus is not promising either; he is best known for the charges of antiquities smuggling and blackmail he faces.

This is the sole reason that Turkish diplomatic circles wanted him to be excluded. Fearing another provocation by Matsakis at a time when the Turkish public is already deep in negative perceptions of the EU, the Turkish authorities simply thought that it was not worth the risk.

Let's see, in turn, how the notorious EP chose to approach Ankara's move. Subsequent to this decision, EP Environment Committee Chair Karl-Heinz Florenz described Turkey's reaction as unacceptable, because "a democratic country upholding the rule of law has to be able to deal with difficult guests." He then ironically concluded, "The incident shows that Turkey still has shortcomings and is not ready for Europe."

For heaven's sake! Could someone please tell me what Matsakis' case actually has to do with the notion of rule of law? What is its relevance to Turkey's shortcomings? What European country would tolerate such scandalous behavior as Matsakis'?

Let's proceed to the second example …
The recent morbid humor revolving around the Armenian "genocide" was first initiated in the Netherlands, with the removal of three candidates of Turkish origin from the Dutch elections for rejecting the "genocide." Then came remarks made by French President Jacques Chirac during his visit to Armenia. When asked whether Turkey should eventually recognize the so-called Armenian "genocide" in order to join the EU, Chirac replied, "Honestly, I believe so." He then added, "Each country grows by acknowledging its past dramas and errors."

I could have reminded Chirac of the inconsistency between his remarks concerning what he said last year when referring to his country's actions during its colonial period and his present stance towards Turkey with regard to the Armenian allegations. You may well remember him declaring that "research into historical cases should be left to historians." I also could have resorted to the same populism Europeans, our Dutch friends in particular, have been using for a while now, by saying that their criticism of Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) contradicts what they are doing at home.

But I won't! Instead, I will touch on another French politician's recently reported statement, this time of Armenian origin, which accurately shows how the situation has become another masterpiece of black comedy as well as inconsistency.

A member of the ruling French political party and close friend of Nicholas Sarkozy, Patrick Devecian, ironically suggested that historians should be excluded from the scope of the bill to punish genocide deniers with time in prison. Oh, mama mia! Mr. Devecian seems to forget what history essentially signifies. His strange suggestion precisely exemplifies the extent of the Machiavellian approach our dear Armenian friends and Turkey-skeptic European politicians are resorting to. It's indeed a masterpiece of cunning action! The main task of history is to find out, or at least partially enlighten, the truth. But if you have already invented the truth, why use history? ...

Nearly a year ago, I warned that Turkey's efforts alone to overcome popular suspicions and opposition to its membership in Europe would never be enough, although I didn't deny the critical value of its performance. In fact, the way European elites would choose to present Turkey and its performance to their public was as important as Turkey's own initiatives.

Let's elaborate all together on who, among the European elites, has been more outspoken since then, without considering whether Turkey should, or should not, become a member of the EU. Are they responsible European public leaders? Not at all … It is rather such figures mentioned above who are reported widely in both sides' media. It is they who impact strongly on and more importantly, damage or destroy, the content of the fundamental values the EU is founded on. Sometimes I really can't believe my eyes to see how Europe's historical values are consciously sacrificed for narrow populism or short-sightedness revolving around Turkey's membership bid.

Have you ever pondered, in turn, the consequences of such actions on the man on the street, both in Europe and Turkey? Have you ever thought about the indirect role they might have played in the appearance of a web video showing young members of a populist Danish political party mocking the Prophet Muhammed?

I am indeed heartfeltly satisfied to see that some European figures like Joschka Fischer, Joost Lagendijk and Guenter Verheugen have finally started to expose the double standards shown to Turkey by EU members. I humbly expect them to continue this stance, not for us, the Turks, but rather for the sake of Europe's future and Europeanness! ...

Cem Oguz
ccem@bilkent.edu.tr10 October 2006




It's not an issue of Armenian 'genocide' denial, stupid ...
A collision between the two trains is more imminent than expected. A "train crash," code for describing the deep crisis between Turkey and Europe has been predicted, if it cannot be avoided, for December, following the progress report which is expected to be very critical of Turkey's recent performance on its way to accession in the European Union. The greatest stumbling block has been the Cyprus issue.

Yet France, by introducing legislation on punishing all those denying an Armenian "genocide" with five years in prison, is accelerating that collision. The Armenian issue has overtaken the Cyprus one. If the French Parliament passes the bill in tomorrow’s vote, a collision will be unavoidable.

But, between whom?
After all, EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn has warned the French about the counter-productivity of the move, thus absolving the EU of any responsibility in France's irresponsible and damaging behavior.

The collision will surely take place between Turkey and France. However it is impossible that such a collision won't leave create a backlash in the already troubled Turkish-EU relations. That will add more fuel to the current public Turkish disillusionment over its European prospects since it is not only France but also the Netherlands and some other EU member states as well who are after further alienating Turkey to keep it at a distance from the gates of the EU.

The climate between Turkey and the EU would be poisoned to such an extent that to be able to breathe the fresh air required to have Turkey on board for accession will be very difficult.

Does Turkey have any other alternative, like moving closer to Russia, Iran and its immediate neighborhood, as some in Ankara's bureaucracy have suggested on several occasions?

This is a non-option in terms of realpolitik. However, further alienation of Turkey from the EU could also destabilize Turkey and instability in Turkey would have repercussions on European security, dwarfing the demise of Yugoslavia compared to Turkey's destabilization in a post-9/11 world with the specter of a clash of civilizations.

The political dwarfs in France, be it the Socialists or the Nicholas Sarkozy school of conservatives, have failed to grasp the strategic implications of their petit-politics.

In contrast to neighboring political underweights in France and the Netherlands, former Deputy Chancellor and German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer wrote an op-ed piece entitled "Turkey and Europe; Two Trains About to Collide" in which he underlined, "By intervening in Lebanon, Europeans have made a far-reaching, risk-fraught, and, at the same time, correct decision. The reason is that the future of Europe's security will be determined in the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East. Europe, whether it likes it or not, has taken on a new, strategic role in the region. Should it fail, the price will be high.

"In view of the serious risks that Europe has assumed, in full awareness of the consequences, it is of the utmost importance that a European 'Grand Strategy' for the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East be developed so that Europe can calmly and clearly define its interests. In any serious variation of this grand strategy, Turkey will need to play a central role -- politically, militarily, economically, and culturally.

"Safeguarding Europe's interests today means establishing a strong link -- indeed an unbreakable bond -- with Turkey as a cornerstone of regional security. So it is astonishing that Europe is doing exactly the opposite: firmly closing its eyes to the strategic challenge posed by Turkey.

"Successful modernization and democratization of Turkey -- with a strong civil society, the rule of law, and a modern economy -- will not only be hugely beneficial for the country, but will also export stability and serve as a model for transformation in the Islamic world. Above all, the successful modernization of a large Muslim country will make a decisive contribution to Europe's security."

He concluded, "Some in the EU -- mainly in France, Germany and Austria -- seem smugly pleased by the prospect of a clash on this issue, believing it will force Turkey to give up its drive for membership. But this attitude is irresponsible. The EU is about to commit a grave strategic error by allowing its report this autumn to be guided by the short-sighted domestic policy considerations of some of its important member states.

"Admittedly, Turkey has a long way to go. But to endanger this process here and now, in full awareness of the possible costs, is an act of very costly stupidity on the part of the Europeans -- and stupidity is the worst sin in politics. In European-Turkish relations, two trains are racing headlong toward each other. Neither Turkey nor Europe can afford the all-too-foreseeable crash."

The issue is not merely a French legislative process on the denial of an Armenian "genocide;" it will have strategic ramifications. It has only been a week since U.S. President Bush strongly endorsed Turkey's EU bid and interpreted it as being in "the U.S.' national interests."

The Turkish government, therefore, could play its hand by "internationalizing" its legitimate friction with France.

Cengiz Candar
ccandar@superonline.com
11 October 2006




Does Sarkozy ever feel like 'scum' himself?
There are certain people who make you really fed up and you never want to see them again. I think French Interior Minister or, as he dreams, aspiring future French President Nicholas Sarkozy is one of those for me …

Last time round his remarks on "scum," criticizing protestors of French immigration policy, ended up in 8,000 cars being set on fire on the streets of Paris, and I wonder what the price of his statements on Turkish-French relations will be.

In a way, it's very easy to understand the logic behind his attitude. He's desperately obsessed with being the man of the moment. Added to which, it contributes a great deal to his popularity as a politician. So who cares about the biased act of the French Parliament and government towards Turks? Who cares about why there was a tragedy once faced by both Turks and Armenians? Who cares about distorted historical facts almost a century later?

I was talking to number of people yesterday and among them were some politicians, journalists and even some young people and housewives. They was also a consensus, which can be outlined as follows:
"Why do Turkish governments always have to behave like 'good boys'? Will we be battered by Europeans forever? Do they really believe that Turkey will become a member of the European Union one day? Do we have to pay such a high price, such as forgoing our pride?"

So most of them seemed eager to break off relations with France. Some said Turkey should freeze its political relations, disqualify all French companies from tenders and recall our ambassador from Paris.

They were also agreed on working much harder on history, especially the massacres carried out by the French in Algeria. According to them, municipalities were right in their plans to erect monuments commemorating French massacres from the 20th century.

Of course this will all pass and both sides will consider things more calmly. But what about the wounds that won't go away?


So I can't stop myself from thinking about how dependent the government's policies are on some statesmen's silly acts, even if they're simply "scum" themselves.

Nursun Erel

erel@thenewanatolian.com
11 October 2006




Turkish intellectuals against French bill
Time Magazine, in its 60th anniversary issue, pointed out that Europe is more than a geographical expression, whose physical limits have never had a settled definition. But both politicians and intellectuals have referred to it as shared histories and common values.

For an idealist, not only Europe but also the European Union refers to a group of values that enables its people to rejoice in their rights and freedoms, many of which have found expression in the Charter of Human Rights of the Union, of which Turkey is striving to become a member.

And ask any high school student just what those "contemporary values" are, in Ankara or Paris, and both will cite freedom of expression as one.

If you ask the same two imaginary students whether the Armenian "genocide" by the Ottoman Empire in 1915 took place, both would probably differ in their replies. Yet, should you tell one that the holder of the opposite view would either be fined or jailed for that and ask them to reconcile that with freedom of expression, both the French and Turkish high school students may find themselves at a loss for words.

But politicians in both capitals are finding plenty to say, most of which can hardly be considered a positive contribution to the Armenian issue or freedom of expression.

France, which has opened a Pandora's box through its parliamentary attempts on the Armenian "genocide" bill that dates back a decade, argues that Turkey should come to terms with its history. The words of President Chirac from Armenia, which claim that a nation only becomes greater by admitting its past errors, become a mockery given that only a few years ago, France declared that history should be written by the historians when it came to its own history with Algeria.

On the other hand, one has to admit that it does cause a strange sensation to hear Turkish Justice Minister Cemil Cicek, who has been hostile to an immediate change to infamous Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), speaking of freedom of expression.

Today, just as six months ago when the French Parliament buried the draft law on the denial of Armenian "genocide," much is being said about the draft law and Turkey's possible responses. We know them far too well: Turkey may slap a consumers' boycott on French goods, and French defense companies may kiss defense deals good-bye as well as any part in the construction of a major nuclear power plant. None of these come under Turkey's obligations under the Customs Union.

Political relations between the two countries could also suffer, as they suffered after France ratified the first bill in 2000. It could also lead to endless consequences: What to do when a visiting professor, or minister, or Foreign Ministry undersecretary, denies the Armenian "genocide" took place? What to do when faced by an organized movement, such as the Turkish diaspora mobilizing in Paris, Lyon or Aix-en-Provence and collectively denying the existence of the so-called genocide?

But is the main question is moral rather than political? How would democracy, freedom of expression or even history be served by the Parliament of a third country seeking to write history and trying to silence one view through fines and imprisonment?

What would be sad, in my opinion, is that France, a country which has ties with Armenia and Turkey, would lose any chance it has of playing a constructive role in that dark page of history that haunts the present ties between the two countries, for it has chosen, either unwittingly or out of myopic count of votes, to silence the voice of one side. The amendment to the bill that aims to exempt academics from the law is a means to address that concern, but it falls short.

It would also be sadder to see the draft spill over to Turkish-European Union ties. Olli Rehn, the European Commission's enlargement chief, knew that too well when he asked French deputies to act responsibly.

The only bright spot about the debate is the attitude of Turkish intellectuals, who, without nationalism or conservatism, raised their voices against the bill, which they see as an obstacle to freedom of expression.

Elif Safak, Hrant Dink and Orhan Pamuk been charged at home for statements that allegedly denigrated Turkishness by recognizing the Armenian "genocide." Having suffered under Article 301, they are now taking a clear stance on the French bill.

Perhaps Turks should be very thankful to French democracy. It's united its government and intellectuals around the concept of freedoms.

Now perhaps it is time that French intellectuals, diplomats, deputies and officials decided once and all where they stand on this law that touches the heart of freedom of expression. The question has been brought up, buried and reburied too many times.

Nazlan Ertan
nazlanertan@thenewanatolian.com
10 October 2006




Erdoğan tells Paris to look at its own past for 'genocide'
Turkey sharpened criticism against France over a bill that would criminalize denial of the alleged Armenian genocide, with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan saying it revealed that French reason was in eclipse and telling Paris to look at its colonial past.

Erdoğan, addressing his Justice and Development Party (AKP) lawmakers in Parliament, also pledged that Turkey would fight against the “systematic lie machine” that is pushing for recognition of the alleged genocide and said, “There can be no legal justification for making it a crime to say a lie is a lie.”

But he declined to back efforts for a tit-for-tat policy against France by passing a law in the Turkish Parliament designating French atrocities in Algeria as genocide and criminalizing its denial, saying Turkey will not “clean dirt with dirt.”

Turkish Armenian Patriarch Mesrob Mutafyan also criticized the French bill, saying it would not help improve “dialogue, empathy or mutual understanding.”

Ankara has warned against the consequences in ties with France if the bill is passed. In the event it passes the French parliament, several retaliatory scenarios ranging from a total boycott of French products to excluding French firms from Turkey's public tenders are being considered. Some 277 French companies operating in Turkey are concerned about the developments. In the event of a boycott, the losses of French companies may reach $1 billion. French companies operating in Turkey have sent warning letters to their headquarters in France, drawing attention to possible economic consequences of the passage of the controversial bill.

October 11, 2006
ANKARA - TDN Parliament Bureau




Oct. 12-Oct. 13
The Armenian genocide bill in the French Parliament is a new source of tension in Turkish-EU relations.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's speech at the Justice and Development Party (AKP) parliamentary group meeting yesterday showed just how much the bill in the French Parliament criminalizing “denial of the Armenian genocide” had angered Ankara. Not only Ankara, of course. This bill proposed by the French Socialist Party also drew criticism from politicians in France, from other European Union countries and EU leaders. The EU Commission said it was unacceptable for France to take such a measure at a time when it was, just like Turkish democrats, pushing Turkey to eliminate the obstacles to freedom of expression such as an article that criminalizes “insulting Turkishness.”

France's criminalizing any expression that the Armenians were not victims of genocide in 1915 not only causes a new freedom of expression problem for the Turkish government and creates a new double standard; it also compares this debatable matter with the Jewish Holocaust perpetrated by the Nazis, which is not debated by anyone except maybe the Iranian administration. This bill, by weakening the Holocaust tragedy, entails certain human rights problems, too.

On top of all of this, Union for a Popular Movement Party (UMP) leader and Interior Minister Nicholas Sarkozy, who has his eyes on President Jacques Chirac's post for the elections in 2007, called Erdoğan and told him, “If you change your criminal law and open your border to Armenia, I will prevent the passage of this bill,” implying he wanted to negotiate. This served to further anger those in Ankara who in return made accusations of “unethical behavior.”

How will French leaders accept a bill that can be changed for political goals to brand an entire nation with the despicable crime of genocide?

What kind of a benchmark will this bill set for the European Union, of which France is a leading member?

Isn't the French Parliament, with its government and opposition, playing with fire by binding its future generations in terms of a clash of civilizations?

The French Parliament will place the bill on its agenda for Oct. 12, which is tomorrow. If the bill is approved, the Senate and the president need to assess it too.

On Oct. 13, the screening process between the EU and Turkey will end, a year after the process began.

Turkey's chief negotiator and economy minister Ali Babacan, speaking an hour before the prime minister blasted France, was briefing the audience at the conference Strategic Insight: 2023 hosted by the Eurasian Strategic Research Foundation (ASAM). This conference, which is part of preparations for the 100th anniversary of the republic, began on Monday and will continue throughout the week. The topics that will be discussed include relations with EU, energy, security, trade and many others.

Babacan said thousands of experts were involved in the screening of around 100,000 pages of the EU acquis, noting how short a time it took to complete the process. “If the matter had solely been technical, we would have been able to adopt EU rules within three or four years,” he said. However, political problems, especially Cyprus, in Turkey's relations with the EU are serious obstacles to progress.

Babacan said: “The issue of Turkey's membership is not limited to whether a 28th or 29th member should be admitted into the EU. For years, efforts were made to prevent a clash of civilizations. However, recent developments are encouraging it.”

He listed the cartoon crisis with Denmark and the French bill as issues that could not only affect Turkey's relations with the EU but also could result in efforts to prevent a clash of civilization from ever taking place. In other words, the bill at the French Parliament was a source of tension in Turkey's relations with the EU. According to Babacan: “Turkey is proof that democracy and secularism can exist in a country with a Muslim majority. Turkey's EU membership would be the best possible answer to intolerance.”

Babacan noted the concept of “secularism” twice in his speech yesterday. I can't say I follow all his speeches, but it was the first time I noticed such an emphasis.

When I returned to the bureau, I asked for the text of the entire speech. There was no secularism emphasis in the original one. It seems Babacan felt the need to emphasis this concept that his original speech was lacking.

While the debates concerning the EU, both domestically and internationally, may create some anger, they also serve a positive role. Through debates, we find our common denominators.

October 11, 2006
Murat Yetkin




European Socialists raise concerns over French move
EU Commission warns the controversial bill that makes it a crime to deny Armenians were subjected to ‘genocide’ at the hands of the Ottoman Empire will deal a blow to efforts for dialogue and reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia

Paavo Lipponen, head of the High-Level Advisory Group on Turkey of the Party of European Socialists (PES), yesterday raised concerns over the repercussions if a controversial bill that criminalizes any denial of the alleged genocide of Armenians is voted for in the French National Assembly.

“We're concerned about the consequences if the bill is adopted,” Lipponen, parliament speaker of the current holder of the EU term presidency Finland, told reporters here having wrapped up what he said a fact-finding trip in Turkey.

The PES delegation -- including Emine Bozkurt from the Dutch Labor Party -- had talks with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Parliament Speaker Bülent Arınç and Turkey's chief negotiator for EU talks Ali Babacan.

The French bill proposed by the Socialists calls for one year in prison and a hefty 45,000 euro fine for anyone who denies the so-called Armenian genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Empire in the last century. The bill will be voted on in the French National Assembly on Thursday.

Lipponen said he would contact the secretary-general of the French Socialist Party before the vote in France to express concerns over the controversial bill.

In apparent reference to attempts to lay down recognition by Ankara of the alleged genocide as a precondition for full membership in the EU, Lipponen said, “Recognition by Turkey of the so-called genocide cannot be a criterion or a condition for full membership.”

He said the issue should be resolved in the spirit of reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia, calling on Ankara to normalize its ties with neighboring Armenia.

Touching on a contentious article in Turkey's new penal code -- Article 301 -- under which scores of intellectuals have been put on trial, Lipponen said: “I cannot say there's readiness to scrap it but it's possible it will be changed. It seems clear there is an effort within the government and Parliament to reform the judiciary to have consistent practice.”

Facing increasing pressure from the EU to amend or scrap Article 301, Turkey has accused the bloc of applying double standards, saying that EU's founding member France itself is blocking free speech under the bill it plans to legislate.

“We're looking forward to see some positive actions [on Article 301]… Freedom of speech should be guided,” he added.

In comments on the decades-old Cyprus dispute, a major stumbling block before Ankara's accession process, Lipponen held out hope that all the sides involved would give a chance to a Finnish proposal to resolve the standoff.

The Finnish presidency is trying to craft a diplomatic deal to avert a potential “train crash” in Turkish-EU relations later this year. Turkey is under EU pressure to open up its ports to Greek Cypriot shipping. But Ankara refuses to do so unless sanctions imposed on the northern part of the island are eased.

“It's important that we can make progress built on confidence-building measures. There's interest now to make progress. Let's give chance to peace,” he said.

Lipponen said he sensed a positive atmosphere that the ports issue would be resolved via the confidence-building measures floated by Finland and then the actual Cyprus problem would be tackled by the United Nations.

He also dismissed privileged partnership option offer for Turkey instead of full membership, saying that the goal of negotiations with Ankara was full membership.

FULYA ÖZERKAN
October 11, 2006
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News

EU Commission warns against controversial bill:

The EU Commission warned yesterday that the adoption of the French bill would deal a blow to efforts for dialogue and reconciliation between the two neighboring countries, Turkey and Armenia.

Krisztina Nagy, the commission's spokeswoman, was responding to questions at a regular press conference over the French bill, citing recent remarks made by EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn.

Rehn had warned that the French Parliament could do serious harm to Turkish-EU relations if it voted to make it a crime to deny Armenians were subjected to a “genocide.”

“It's a bill now. Rehn believes that if the bill is voted for, it would harm efforts for dialogue and reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia and at the same time between Turkey and Armenian diaspora in France,” she was quoted as saying.

Nagy also said the bill would prevent the establishment of a joint commission of historians between Turkey and Armenia to study genocide allegations as proposed by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

If Embargo Or Boycott Is Imposed On France, French Companies' Losses May Reach $1 Billion

As the French Parliament is preparing to debate a controversial bill on the alleged Armenian genocide, the Turkish business world is discussing retaliatory scenarios ranging from a total boycott of French goods to excluding French firms from public tenders

Prior to Sept. 12, when the French Parliament will be debating a highly controversial bill on the alleged Armenian genocide, reactions are building up in the Turkish and French business world.

In the event the bill passes the French Parliament, several retaliatory scenarios ranging from a total boycott of French products to excluding French firms from Turkey's public tenders are being highlighted. Meanwhile, 277 French companies operating in Turkey are concerned about the developments.

In the event of a boycott, the loss of French companies may reach $1 billion. French companies operating in Turkey have sent warning letters to their headquarters in France, drawing attention to possible economic consequences.

The Turkish-French Trade Association that has 250 French firms as members has launched a signature campaign over the Internet on Friday. The number of signatures it has collected has already reached 10,000 people including CEOs, personnel from Turkish and French companies, several French officials in Turkey and Turkish-Armenian citizens.

“The consequences of the existing tension in French-Turkish relations will be beyond imagination,” head of the Turkish-French Trade Association executive committee Yves-Marie Laouenan said. He added that the French Confederation of Business Enterprises (MEDEF) that corresponds to Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen's Association (TÜSİAD) in Turkey has already started lobbying among French officials to stop the bill.

“I regret to say that as French businessmen, our efforts to stop this bill are more than the efforts Turkey exerts,” Laouenan said. Turkey fell short of explaining its views and there is an image problem of Turkey regarding the French public, he said.

“Two-hundred-fifty French companies concerned about the developments are lobbying in France. Each and every one of them is contacting politicians one by one and explaining the consequences of what they are about to carry out,” Laouenan told Referans.

He explained that they were concerned about a possible boycott on French goods and losses could reach millions of dollars. He pointed out that this kind of an action might harm Turkey also in the long term.

Helicopter tender may be suspended:
Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodities Exchanges (TOBB) head Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu, who was involved in lobbying activities prior to another previous vote on May 18, is again on his way to Paris to contact businesspeople.

The French Union of Chambers, the Euro Chamber, the Paris Chamber of Commerce and heads of French businessmen's associations are among Hisarcıklıoğlu's list of contacts. He says he will ask French businessmen to pressure their government.

Common sense should prevail in solving this issue, Hisarcıklıoğlu commented. He added, “France is not our addressee in this issue; it is Armenia. Just because 400,000 Armenians live in France, they have no right to create tension between the two countries and jeopardize economic relations.”

In the event the bill is approved in the French Parliament, a boycott of French goods as well as excluding French firms from defense industry aircraft purchases, public tenders on helicopter purchases or nuclear projects are considered to be options.

Despite the risk of non-compliance with European Union acquis communataire (laws and regulations) rules out the possibility of such an open exclusion, it is reported that several methods do exist to exclude French firms from the process.

Some French firms operating in Turkey

Accor services International
Citroen
Carrefour
Dacia
Danone
Groupama
Peugeot
Renault
Lafarge
L'Oreal
Louis Vuitton
Michelin

Turkey – France foreign trade (million $)
Year export import volume
2000 1657.0 3531.8 5188.8
2001 1895.3 2283.9 4179.2
2002 2197.8 3007.2 5115.0
2003 2817.5 4158.0 6975.5
2004 3662.2 6194.2 9856.4
2005 3788.9 5870.7 9659.7

Turkey's largest import items from France
Automotive and related industries
Machinery
Electric machines
Plastic
Iron-steel
Pharmaceutical products
Optical goods
Rubber and rubber products
Chemicals
Aircraft

October 11, 2006
CEYDA ÇAĞLAYAN/İSMAİL YANMAZ
ISTANBUL




Turkey indeed needs a 'social restoration'
An understanding that the extremists -- be they the Islamist zealots or terrorists on the mountains -- are our people as well is itself a halfway solution to many of the problems of this country

What the prime minister said Tuesday regarding the future of Turkish-French relations in view of the looming vote in Paris that might criminalize denial of the so-called Armenian “genocide” in the last years of the Ottoman Empire was, of course, important, but more or less included nothing new from what he or other senior politicians of the country have said so far. However, in the same speech to the deputies of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan used sentences that could be interpreted on the one hand as his declaration to run for president, or, on the other, as the premier giving in to pressure and agreeing that there is a “threat to the founding principles of the republic,” as the military has been complaining for some time, or as remarks by a statesman willing to work to establish a new political consensus in Turkey by cultivating a culture of compromise and conversion of the extreme elements of our society into a centrist political line.

We believe if Erdoğan is sincere in his words and stands behind them in the period ahead, he can open a new era in this country. The opposition parties and other elements with political influence must try to grasp this opportunity rather than exploiting it with ulterior motives.

What did Erdoğan say?
First of all, the prime minister conceded that there are indeed threats aimed at the country, its future, the integrity of the nation and the values of the republic. Of course, the die-hard secularists may come up with a claim that the premier did not name secularism directly in his speech; therefore, he might be just paying a lip service to the concerns of secularists. On the contrary, rather than burying his head in the sand, like many people in this country are unfortunately doing, the premier conceded the existence of “extremist elements” and underlined that these “extremist elements” must be dealt with under the criminal laws of the country.

Indeed, that ought to be the case in any country where the supremacy of law and the principle of separation of powers exist. Rather than launching a witch-hunt or sacrificing democracy this way or the other in order to fight with the extremist elements, the premier was saying that the government was determined to tackle such problems within the limits of the law, through decisions of the independent judiciary.

Furthermore, the premier was stressing that even though they were “extremist elements,” they were still members of this nation and thus must be treated as such.

And for politicians, the premier stressed that it was the shared responsibility of all political parties to work to bring the extremist elements towards the center.

It is not in the interest of anyone to be an opponent of the government and of Erdoğan all the time, irrespective of what they say and do. There might be disbelief or fear of a secret agenda. However, the bottom line must be clear for all of us that what the premier said was indeed correct and is something that this country and people badly require nowadays.

He might be criticized still for not sufficiently elaborating on his suggestion, but did not he after all say that Turkey badly needed a “social restoration,” which has been ignored for so long?

It is imperative for Turkey to undertake some brave social projects and put its house in order in order to best utilize the opportunities it has for the advancement of its EU accession and to play a far more important role both in its region and on a global basis. We have to find ways of establishing a consensus on common denominators.

Erdoğan did not make any reference to a statement by True Path Party (DYP) leader Mehmet Ağar this week in which the opposition leader made a brave move and implied that Turkey must perhaps consider an amnesty for the members of the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) gang. He was not expected to, anyhow, in view of the existing real politik of the country. However, his criticism -- that Turkey had wasted many years by looking inward and quarrelling amongst ourselves and his stressing that now, if we continue in that fashion again, not only will we be prevented from achieving our national goals but that our ability to play a strong role in the international arena will be crippled -- was sufficient acknowledgement that we have to find ways of bringing an end to the existing obsessive behavioral patters we have.

We fully agree with the premier that governments cannot scratch and bleed old wounds but rather should work for their healing.

The understanding that the extremists -- be they the Islamist zealots or terrorists in the mountains -- are our people as well is itself a halfway solution to many of the problems of this country. Now we expect the premier to transform into reality what he has said and take some bold steps towards achieving this “social restoration” that we so badly long for.

October 11, 2006
TDN editorial by Yusuf KANLI




French gov’t disavows the bill
French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy telephoned his Turkish counterpart, Abdullah Gül, on Monday to try to defuse a looming row over a bill before the National Assembly making it a punishable offence to deny the Armenian “genocide.”

Foreign Ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei said Douste-Blazy was at pains to stress that the French government does not back the bill, which was tabled by the opposition Socialist Party (PS).

The minister “noted our attachment to the long-term future of relations between Turkey and France ... and the support brought by France for Turkey's European perspective.”

The bill -- which was originally brought before the French parliament in May -- is to be debated again on Thursday, amid considerable uncertainty over its chances and outraged threats from Ankara over damage to Franco-Turkish trade links.

Though the PS commands less than a third of seats in the Assembly, several members of the ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) are thought to back the measure and the government has promised a free vote.

Around 400,000 people of Armenian origin are estimated to live in France.

October 11, 2006
PARIS - Agence France-Presse




Parliament cools towards Algerian genocide proposals
Mehmet Dülger, head of Parliament's Foreign Affairs Commission, and Yaşar Yakış, head of Parliament's European Union Harmonization Commission, yesterday opposed retaliating against France with a law that penalizes any denial of the killings of Algerians under French colonial rule, after the French plans to legislate a similar law.

The proposals floated by Turkish lawmakers will be debated at Parliament's Justice Commission today, a day before the controversial French bill that penalizes any denial of the so-called Armenian genocide is debated at the National Assembly in Paris.

Dülger, speaking to reporters in Parliament, said he would go the commission today to express his views on the proposals in question.

“If they [the proposals] are approved, we'll have acted in the same way as France does,” he said.

Asked about suggestions that 70,000 illegal Armenian workers in Turkey should be repatriated if the bill was adopted, Dülger said it was difficult to do that.

During our contacts in France to lobby against the French bill, he said, we told French lawmakers that allowing 70,000 illegal Armenians to work in Turkey amounted to Turkish generosity.

“They were surprised. They did not know [that Turkey allows thousands of illegal Armenians to work in the country]. In fact, 90 percent of French lawmakers who will vote the bill have no knowledge about the Turkish-Armenian relations,” he said. Yakış said he did not consider plans to retaliate against France with Algeria “genocide” law to be correct.

“If a genocide was committed in Algeria, then Algerians are expected to make such a demand and legislate a bill. It's not correct that we'll enact such a bill, instead of Algerians,” he said.

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, meanwhile, has repeatedly called on France to admit its part in the massacre of 45,000 Algerians who took to the streets to demand independence as Europe celebrated victory over Nazi Germany in 1945.

Asked about suggestions over the illegal Armenians workers in Turkey, Yakış said: “Everything should be assessed appropriately. We'll be punishing Armenians while retaliating against France.”

Phone conversation between Kocharian and Chirac:
French plans to legislate a bill that foresees penalizes for anyone who denies that Armenians were subjected to genocide during World War I years have caused uneasiness in Armenia.

Speaking to reporters before the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AKP) parliamentary group meeting, Dülger said he had met with the French parliament speaker last Wednesday, who briefed him about the phone conversation between Chirac and Kocharian.

Armenian President Robert Kocharian phoned his French counterpart, Jacques Chirac, last week and said, “We have steps, though they are minor, with Turkey [to normalize our relations]. Do not legislate this bill, which will spoil [those steps], Dülger said.

October 11, 2006
ANKARA - TDN Parliament Bureau




Armenian patriarch criticizes French bill

‘Now the already restricted dialogue between the two communities is in danger of being eliminated completely,' says Mutafyan

While describing a French bill that penalizes denial of an alleged Armenian genocide as “unreasonable,” Turkish Armenian Patriarch Mesrob Mutafyan argued that adoption of the bill would not help improve “dialogue, empathy and mutual understanding.”

“In order to examine, research, and debate this matter, all countries, starting with Turkey and Armenia, must remove barriers rather than erect them,” Mutafyan said in a written statement released on Tuesday.

“Whatever the reason, all initiatives that restrict personal freedom of speech will deal a blow to the dialogue process between the Turkish and Armenian peoples and will strengthen the hand of extreme nationalists and racists found in each of them. Now the already restricted dialogue between the two communities is in danger of being eliminated completely,” he said.

“The aim should always be successful efforts that will contribute to dialogue, empathy, and mutual understanding. Anything that will not serve this aim is unreasonable to us.”

Turkish-Armenian journalists have also raised their voice over the bill, worrying it will antagonize Turks and further strain an already tense debate on the issue. Among the first to condemn the bill was journalist Hrant Dink, who is among a handful of taboo-breaking intellectuals in Turkey who have openly argued that the killings of Anatolian Armenians during World War I were genocide, drawing nationalist ire and landing himself in court.

Dink, in an interview with Reuters, said he felt like a “pawn” in a row between Turkey and France. “We should not be a pawn for the irrational attitude between the two states. I will go to France to protest against this madness and violate the (new) law if I see it necessary. And I will commit the crime to be prosecuted there so that these two irrational mentalities can race to put me into jail,” he said.

Dink, editor of the Turkish-Armenian bilingual weekly Agos, received a six-month suspended sentence last year for insulting the very concept of “Turkishness" in an article about the 1915-1917 killings. He is scheduled to go on trial again under the same provision; this time for saying the killings were genocide.

Another journalist, Etyen Mahçupyan, said Turks see the proposed law as an imposition on them to accept the genocide and feared the French move could scupper a fledgling, timid debate in Turkey to question its past.

“Initiatives like the one in the French parliament are awkward,” he told AFP. “They push the Turks closer to the state and make them more vulnerable to manipulation.”

Discussing the killings was a near taboo in Turkey until recently and an open debate on the issue -- one of the most controversial in Turkish history -- still sends nationalist sentiment into frenzy.

Mahçupyan, a columnist for the conservative daily Zaman, called on European countries to back efforts at improving democracy in Turkey, which, he said, is the only way to ensure free debate to challenge Ankara's official line on the killings.

October 11, 2006
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News




Paris court to announce decision on Armenian complaint

A Paris court is expected today to announce its decision whether a complaint filed by an Armenian group against Turkish Consul General Aydın Sezgin is admissible.

The Armenian group, the Comité de Défense de la Cause Arménienne (CDCA), is accusing the consul general in Paris of spreading “denial propaganda” concerning an alleged Armenian genocide during World War I at the hands of the Ottoman Empire and demanding the removal of part of the consulate general's Web site.

During a hearing at the Paris Court of Appeals last Friday, the prosecutor argued that the complaint filed should be rejected on the grounds of Sezgin's diplomatic immunity.

Sezgin's lawyers also argued that the court should reject the file, saying that the consul general was free to defend Turkey's official thesis concerning the issue in the country where he is officially representing his own country.

Yet lawyers for the Armenian group argued that the consul general should not state his opinions on political issues other than protecting his own citizens' rights, and thus his diplomatic immunity should not be taken into consideration concerning their complaint.

The CDCA based its complaint on a resolution adopted by the European Parliament in 1987 and on a law promulgated in France in 2001 specifically condemning denial of the alleged genocide.

In 2004, France implemented the European e-Commerce directive, which determines the liability of providers for the content of their customers.

While the Turkish government's lawyers argue that the 2001 legislation should be the basis for a decision, the Armenian group argues that the 2004 legislation should prevail, the Anatolia news agency earlier reported.

The 17th Criminal Court of First Instance of Paris in 2004 had overruled the CDCA case against the consulate, giving “diplomatic immunity” as justification.

The Armenian group has also filed a complaint against Wanadoo, a French Internet service provider, in connection with articles concerning the Armenian genocide allegations on the Turkish Consulate General's Web site. Wanadoo's lawyer argued that the case should be rejected.

October 11, 2006
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News




Erdoğan: French reason in eclipse

The prime minister urges Paris to look at its colonial past, instead of passing laws that makes it a crime to ‘say a lie is a lie’

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan lashed out at France yesterday over a bill criminalizing denial of an alleged genocide of Armenians, saying Paris was in an “eclipse of reason” and slamming its colonial past.

Erdoğan, addressing his Justice and Development Party (AKP), urged the European Union to “take a stand against this eclipse of reason” and warned of serious damage in Turkish-French relations if the bill, due to be taken up by French National Assembly on Thursday, is passed.

The bill calls for one year in prison and a 45,000-euro fine for denying allegations that Armenians were victims of genocide during World War I at the hands of the late Ottoman Empire.

Erdoğan pledged that Turkey would fight against the “systematic lie machine” that pushes for recognition of the alleged genocide.

“Let no one doubt that the Turkish Republic and its people are capable of breaking this systematic lie machine and of dispersing these clouds of disinformation,” Erdoğan said. “There can be no legal justification for making it a crime to say a lie is a lie.”

The bill, first proposed in May but subsequently shelved, sparked uproar in Turkey against France, with demonstrators gathering in Ankara and Istanbul to protest the French bill and business associations calling for a boycott against France.

In Ankara, dozens of people demonstrated outside the French Embassy yesterday to protest the bill, raising banners that read, “France stop! A boycott is coming,” and chanting slogans “Genocide is a lie.”

“We expect France to avoid this blunder, this political accident that will harm Turkish-French relations,” Erdoğan said.

He, however, said Turkey would not pursue a tit-for-tat policy by passing a law in Turkish Parliament labeling French atrocities in Algeria as genocide.

The parliamentary justice committee will decide on Wednesday whether to send to Parliament floor a bill that would criminalize the denial of genocide in Algeria, which Paris ruled firmly from 1830 to 1962.

“Some of our friends say ‘France did this, so we should retaliate.' But we are not among those who clean dirt with dirt. We are among those who clean off the dirt with clean water,” Erdoğan said.

The prime minister, however, still told France to look at its past.

“France must look at what happened in Senegal, Tunisia, Djibouti, Guinea, Algeria ... I don't recall that these fanned anger which history covered with ashes,” he said in his speech.

Turkish officials expect the bill will be passed, given the French politicians' desire not to alienate the country's 400,000-strong Armenian community ahead of the presidential elections next year.

The result is expected to be a deterioration in political ties through reduced contacts and a downgrade in the level of officials involved in political contacts with France. French companies are also likely to lose shares in lucrative Turkish tenders, including the one to build Turkey's first nuclear power plant.

When French parliament adopted a bill in a 2001 resolution, recognizing the Armenian allegations of genocide, Ankara excluded French companies from public tenders and cancelled several projects awarded to French firms.

The current bill has caused a furor among lawmakers and ordinary Turks, who question compatibility of the French bill with EU norms praising freedom of speech and criticizing France for pressing Ankara to scrap its laws restrictive of free speech while it introduces such laws against Turkey.

Erdoğan echoed the public criticism, saying the bill would prevent free debate on a historically contested subject and violate freedom of expression, but added that it would not discourage Turkey from pursuing its bid to join the European Union.

Also speaking in Parliament, Deniz Baykal, leader of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), suggested that the European pressure on Turkey to lift Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) was part of efforts to win international recognition for the alleged genocide.

“They do not want changes in Article 301 out of respect for freedom of expression. It wants these changes for another reason,” he said. On the French bill, he said, “It is saddening to see children of Voltaire, Rousseau and Montesquieu doing this.”

October 11, 2006
ANKARA - TDN Parliament Bureau




French gambit

When Valery Giscard d’Estaing, former French president, pointed to Turkey’s religious identity as evidence of its non-Europeanness, he was talking honestly and amplifying what many French thought -- that the Turks culturally and religiously did not belong to the Old Continent. Apparently, what deeply divides the Turks and Europeans has less to do with any membership criteria and more with 'otherness.'

When Valery Giscard d'Estaing, former French president, pointed to Turkey's religious identity as evidence of its non-Europeanness, he was talking honestly and amplifying what many French (and other Europeans) thought -- that the Turks culturally and religiously did not belong to the Old Continent. Apparently, what deeply divides the Turks and Europeans has less to do with any membership criteria and more with “otherness.”

If Paris wanted to maximize the psychological distance between Turkey and Europe it could not have done any better than handing over ammunition to Turkey's anti-Europeanists. The genocide denial bill is not surprising at all when one recalls the French-Cypriot defense deal drafted this summer and should be sealed any day now. Of course, between the French parliament's vote on the genocide denial bill today and the news of an emerging love affair between the French and Greek Cypriot armies there was an emotional Jacques Chirac visiting Yerevan and declaring that genocide recognition must be a criteria for Turkish membership, which he obviously believes -- or hopes -- will never happen.

It was probably not a coincidence that Chauvin was a Frenchman. But the French do not always behave out of simple chauvinism, especially in diplomacy. With three carefully planned moves in a span of a few months only -- and with the best timing -- they (a) pushed Turkey a few extra years away from Europe; (b) added generous quantities of gasoline to the fire that is all sorts of dangerous Turkish -isms (nationalism, Islamism, isolationism and anti-Westernism) which, no doubt, will in return push Europe a few extra years away from Turkey; (c) significantly spoiled transatlantic plans for this part of the world; and (d) won many hearts in France's (and Europe's) anti-Turkish parts, not to mention the joy of refreshing the old comradeship with the Armenians.

There is, of course, the damage they apparently have done to the psychologies of the Justice and Development Party's (AKP) bigwigs. For example, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul has proudly revealed that the government would now reciprocate the Kurdistan Workers Party's (PKK) cease-fire with an ambitious social reform plan for the Southeast. It's all very fine if someone eventually thinks of curing the social and economic maladies of the Southeast. But since when it is the foreign minister's job to announce regional development plans? Or is the Southeast in the foreign minister's portfolio?

Yasar Yakis, the caretaker foreign minister in caretaker Prime Minister Gul's Cabinet, is obviously talking less sense. If the French parliament passes the genocide denial bill, according to Mr. Yakis, Turkey should reciprocate by deporting 70,000 or so illegal Armenian workers.

If these Armenians are in Turkey illegally and the government knows they are -- and by exact numbers -- they should have been deported earlier. If the government decided to breach immigration laws and turned a blind eye to these poor people, why will it “revenge” the visiting Armenians when it is the French who offend? Is it because the police have failed to detect any illegal French immigrants in Turkey? The French gambit has truly distorted psychologies in Turkey.

Corporate damage? Recent history tells us that the Turks are not really serious about commercial boycotting. When the French parliament was to vote on a resolution in 2001 that recognized Armenian genocide, Ankara threatened that a “yes” vote would mean the end of all business with French companies. The French parliament voted “yes.” Result? Turkish imports from France jumped from $2.283 billion in 2001 to $5.887 billion in 2005 (or by 158 percent). If the Turks call this an “end of all business with French companies,” the Frenchmen could not be happier with more “ends” like this.

In May of this year this columnist wrote: “The present-day efforts to block the French draft bill that criminalizes Armenian genocide denial are in fact an 'expression of digestion' of the law that recognized genocide five years earlier. Linearly guessing by what happened between Turkey and France since 2001 one may predict that the denial bill, too, will be ‘digested' by 2011 and, by then, possibly the Turks will be trying to block an even more bitter French bill on the same issue.

Turkey these days looks like a football team, now 1-0 down, but will cheer as if it won a trophy if it escaped the second goal.”

At that time, Turkey escaped the second goal. All the same, whichever way the most honorable Frenchmen vote today, the course of the game will not change. If not today, some other time -- as long as the “otherness” is there. The Turkish defense looks very insecure.

October 11, 2006
Burak Bekdil




Paris Hears Warning from EU Commission


France heard its second admonition in two days from Olli Rehn, the EU commissioner for enlargement, urging the government to think over the issue of “genocide.”

Debate in Turkey over the Armenian genocide will halt in the event the French draft bill gets parliamentary concession, and the European Union will lose ground in its struggle for more freedom of expression, Rehn said.

At a book launch on Tuesday in Brussels for his latest work published by the European Policy Center (ECP), Rehn issued a second warning to officials in Paris prior to a vital vote.

He said that he doubted that the French draft bill would backfire, in an interview with Zaman.

With parliamentary recognition of the draft bill in France, chances for discussion of the Armenian genocide in Turkey would diminish, said Rehn, adding it would be a tougher task in Turkey to ask for a clearer and more transparent examination of the so-called Armenian genocide, and efforts to find a common ground between Armenia and Turkey would be dealt a severe blow.

In a statement made two days ago in Brussels, Rehn categorized the French proposal as damaging the European Union’s march toward a larger freedom of expression.

Sources with close links to Rehn defined his stance as radically opposing the French legislative handling of debates over “genocide.”

Rehn’s repeated emphasis on the sensitivity of the “genocide” to both Turks and Armenians was followed by his suggestion that it should be referred to a joint committee of historians.

Rehn called on the European Union to encourage clearer and more transparent handling of discussions between Armenia and Turkey.

It was noteworthy to hear Rehn backing up Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in his suggestion to set up a joint committee of historians.

The European Union Commission has used the term “tragic events” in its annual progress reports to describe the situation in 1915.

Taking the European Parliament’s acknowledgement of the Armenian genocide as their example, Armenian lobbies are directing sharp criticism at the Commission for its refusal to term the 1915 events as “genocide.”

By Selcuk Gultasli, Brussels
October 11, 2006
zaman.com




No Immediate Implementation of French Armenian Bill

A bill that would penalize those refusing the so-called Armenian genocide in France will be discussed Thursday in the French Parliament.

The bill, a major project of the Armenian Diaspora, is expected to easily pass the parliamentary vote due to France’s approaching presidential elections.

The majority of deputies from the ruling UMP (Union for a Popular Movement) who do not support the bill will abstain from voting to prevent a possible backlash from Armenian voters.

A likely scenario is that the 30-40 deputies who backed the bill in 2001 will join the voting session.

Before Thursday’s critical assembly, the consensus in Paris is that most of the French MPs want the bill to pass to appease the Armenians, but they do not approve its implementation.

The draft bill submitted by the main opposition Socialist Party (PS) calls for up to five years in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros for anyone who denies the purported Armenian genocide.

Not content with the French law in 2001 that stated France openly “recognized the 1915 Armenian genocide,” Armenians have been pressuring French politicians since then for a new law to penalize those rebuffing the so-called genocide.

Deputies from both ruling and opposition parties in close ties with Armenians had prepared four bills in recent years.

However, these bills stalled at the parliamentary bureau.

In May 2006, the Socialists used their right for the first time to determine the agenda, allocated to political parties in proportion to the number of deputies, and submitted the bill prepared by Deputy Didier Migaud to the parliament.

The bill did not pass as Parliamentary Speaker Jean-Louis Debre, who opposes “politicians writing down history” interrupted the session twice, dropping the bill from the parliamentary agenda.

French historians, speaking out against passing a bill on a historical issue and issuing a notice, made some attempts in parliament to prevent the bill from passing.

The Socialists, however, following pressure from the Armenians, used their right to determine a special agenda for a second time and brought the draft to the parliament again.

Blocked in May, the bill is predicted to pass quite easily this time.

The Socialists want to send a political message to the nearly 400,000 Armenians in France at the threshold of elections.

Most of the ruling UMP deputies not supporting the bill will not join in tomorrow’s vote.

The UMP Parliamentary Group Chairmanship did not issue a group decision regarding the bill, leaving the deputies free to vote as they see fit.

A majority vote in the general assembly is required for the bill to pass.

There were nearly 30 deputies at the general assembly during the genocide recognition vote 2001.

The UMP has 364 seats and the PS 150 seats in the 577-seat French Assembly.

The bill may still be rejected by the senate or vetoed by French President Jacques Chirac

If the bill is passed in the parliament Thursday, it must also be passed in the senate for full approval.

Pointing out that the bill may wait its turn at the senate dependant on the order of agenda set by the government, parliamentary officials recall the opposing attitude of the government and say the bill may remain pending for a long time.

The bill must be passed in the senate in the same form as in the assembly, and in the event that minor amendments are made in the text it will be resent to the assembly, a process that risks being lengthy.

If bill is passed in the senate, it must be signed by the president for its implementation.

Chirac may send the draft back to the parliament for a second examination.

Though there are various views on the bill’s conformity with the constitution, no party would likely refer the bill to the Constitutional Council.

By Ali Ihsan Aydin
October 11, 2006
zaman.com




Turkish Prime Minister Criticizes France

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan reacted harshly to France, whose parliament is about to debate a draft bill penalizing anyone who denies that the events of 1915 amounted to a genocide.

Erdogan characterized France’s position as a “mental lapse” and added: “Any wrong step taken on Oct. 12 on the draft bill will not change anything for Turkey; however, this will change many things for France.”

While addressing Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputies, Erdogan mainly talked about the French parliament’s draft bill and reminded the deputies of the genocides France had committed in the past.

Erdogan leveled criticism, talking about historical events that took place outside of France as a matter of its internal politics.

“The European Union has to respond to France’s unacceptable attitudes. France’s struggle to pass a law about a historical fiction is a great challenge to the EU’s basic principles,” said Erdogan.

Erdogan said that the Copenhagen Criteria’s main principal was freedom of speech. He added that punishing a politician or scientist for declaring that an Armenian Genocide claim contradicts with historical facts would not be considered consistent with freedom of speech.

“How can France explain this to the world? Moreover, how can France dare to take action for an issue between two neighbor countries? From where do you get this right? The world is not a campus of colonies anymore,” he said

“There is no logical legal explanation for punishing a declaration that a lie is a lie. Everybody should be well aware of the fact that the Turkish Republic and Turkish people have the power to counter this ‘systematic lie machine’ and end the disinformation.”

Erdogan objected to the proposal to recognize an Algeria Genocide in the Turkish Parliament to retaliate against France’s stance. “We should not act as they do. We are not like those who react to bad behavior with worse; we react to bad manners with good ones.”

“We definitely expect that this wrong decision, this terrible political malfunction, which will harm bilateral relations of two big countries like Turkey and France, will not be accepted in Paris. Logic cannot be sacrificed for propaganda.”

Erdogan criticized France’s past disasters and added: “If they have the courage to talk about their past fairly they should look at what they did in Nigeria, Senegal, Tunisia, Algeria, Mauritania, Guinea, Chad, Djibouti, Rwanda and Benin throughout 20th Century. They should consider what happened in Algeria between Nov. 1, 1954 and March 19, 1962.”

Erdogan said there were no such words as the Inquisition, the Dark Ages, colonialism or race wars in Turkish history.

“Don’t you think it is returning to the darkness of the Middle Ages by punishing people who say that a genocide claim is untrue? It’s like persecuting Galileo and Copernicus for saying that the Earth is round. If France does not want to return to the darkness of the Middle Ages they should definitely cancel this draft bill.”

By Fatih Atik, Ankara
October 11, 2006
zaman.com




Sarkozy's Political Adviser Criticizes Armenian Bill

François Fillon, political adviser to Internal Minister Nicholas Sarkozy, opposes the Armenian bill due before the French National Assembly on Thursday.

Fillon, Sarkozy’s right hand man, said that the Armenian bill, which would make it a crime to deny that Turkey perpetrated a genocide against Armenians, was “a real mistake” and he called on French parliamentarians to say “no” during tomorrow’s session.

In a statement to the French news channel LCI, Fillon admitted that the French should stop enacting laws about historical issues. Fillon also added that the Armenian issue had nothing to do with Turkey’s EU membership process and he criticized those claiming that this should be made a precondition.

One of the architects of the 2001 law recognizing the Armenian genocide, socialist Jack Lang, the former minister of culture, has reiterated that he is against the new bill. Speaking to the French daily newspaper Liberation, Lang said that this new Armenian bill would be against freedom of expression and unconstitutional.

By Ali Ihsan Aydin, Paris
October 11, 2006
zaman.com




Chirac&French Government Against Armenian Bill
The French government and the ruling party have differing views on the Armenian bill. Both the French president and the French government evidently oppose the Armenian bill in the French National Assembly.

Chirac repeated his opposition even in his speeches in Armenia, where he mostly dwelled on the issue. However, Internal Affairs Minister Nicholas Sarkozy and his right hand man Patrick Deveciyan support the Armenian bill. By supporting the bill, Sarkozy may be trying to undermining Chirac’s camp, his main opponent in the upcoming presidential elections.

Foreign Minister Douste Blazy made a strong speech last May speaking out against the bill.

October 11, 2006
zaman.com




France Divided over Genocide Bill

The French parliament will vote Thursday morning on a bill submitted by the Socialist Party that calls for penalizing those who deny that events in 1915 amounted to an Armenian genocide.

The French press is commenting that the proposal has split the parliament.

The bill stipulates that a denial of the so-called genocide can carry up to one year in jail and an additional fine up to 45,000 euros.

Patrik Deveciyan, MP of the ruling Union for a Popular Movement party (UMP), submitted an amendment proposal to “exempt the studies of historians and scientists on this issue from the scope of the bill.”

There are four other amendment proposals which are related to technical issues rather than the content.

There are MPs from both Socialist Party and UMP who object to the bill and newspapers emphasize that these parliamentarians will not attend the general assembly as they want to avoid backlash from Armenian-origin voters.

In its written declarations for the last two days, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs has declared that it is against the bill.

The bill, which was submitted by the Socialist Party, was first discussed at the general assembly in May. Parliament Chairman Jean-Louis Debre, who was against the bill, had closed the session before voting with the justification that “there was no time left.”

Senate approval is also needed for the bill to become law, which is expected to pass after Thursday’s vote.

Political observers believe that the government, which is against the bill, will buy time before it is brought to senate agenda.

After senate approval, presidential ratification is needed for the bill to become a law.

The French parliament had officially recognized the Armenian genocide with an act in 2001, straining Turkish-Franco relations.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006
zaman.com




'Genocide' Bars the European Turkish Community
I previously wrote that the Armenian issue had gone beyond being an ‘Armenian issue’ and that however many enemies the Turks have, all of them have embraced the ‘genocide’ thesis. Among those embracing ‘genocide’ are the Christian Democrats and Socialists who are expecting to better their standing.

In order to prevent probable Turkish membership in the European Union, the Christian Democrats have turned genocide, which the Turks will never accept in any way, into a useful vehicle. What lies behind Turkish discomfort rising in Europe is Dutch Christian Democrat Camiel Eurlings’ addition of Syrian Orthodox and Greek Pontus ‘genocides’ to the Armenian genocide in his report on Turkey’s progress for EU accession.

The European Parliament’s report (which made us perpetrators of two more genocides) passed with the large support of the Christian Democrats who said unsurprisingly, “Turkish civilization can’t be a bridge among civilizations; at most it can be a door to terrorism.” Its passage was a sign of Europe’s concern about the rising Turkish influence in the “aging continent.”

‘Genocide,’ which the Socialists formerly referred to euphemistically as “confronting the past,” is now being used to bar the way of Turkish political candidates. While Holland’s Workers Party leader Wouter Bos should be happy about the success of Turks, he raised questions about whether candidates with foreign roots could be competent in their work.

OK, let’s excuse the right-wing. But how is it that the Socialists, while expecting advance after advance from Turkey regarding “confronting history and using our memories,” can’t think of taking account of themselves in relation to their own shameful period of exploitation?

It’s because “using our memory” is an excuse; the real aim is to bar the way of Turks! At this moment approximately five million Turks live in EU lands. With Bulgaria’s membership on Jan. 1, 2007, roughly 750,000 will be added to this number.

The number of Turks living in EU lands will be more than the total populations of 11 member countries. In many EU countries individuals of Turkish origin are finally taking up important positions, becoming ministers and influencing politics.

In addition to being Turkish, they have other small faults like being Muslim and not accepting ‘genocide.’ If political parties in Holland hadn’t hunted down Turkish candidates, at least 11 Turks would have had a chance to enter the Dutch parliament.

They pushed Turks from the lists with ‘genocide’ and with the losses of Nebahat Albayrak and Coskun Coruz, set the stage for the future. An opportunity arose for these two candidates of Turkish origin, even if their number was small, to become an example for European Turks. Happy with the activities of the ‘genocide hunters’ in Holland, the ferocious Armenian lobby is holding up Holland as an example to Belgium.

I’m not going to talk big and say, “Turkey needs to wake up and struggle.” Turkey has no intention of waking up; it is absorbed with secularism. Whatever happens will affect the European Turkish community, not those who want to establish a secular dictatorship in Turkey!

SELCUK GULTASLI 10.11.2006
Brussels
e-mail:s.gultasli@zaman.com.tr




France's Genocide Bill Could Bring Human Rights Lawsuit
Sources close to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) claimed that if the French bill on the Armenian genocide passes, France could be convicted.

Sources speaking to Zaman state that if the genocide bill passes, it will be rejected by the court in Strasbourg. If Strasbourg receives a petition on this subject, France will ‘most probably’ lose.

If a Turkish citizen is sentenced to jail in France on the charge of denying the genocide and if the verdict is approved by the French Supreme Court of Appeals, he or she has the right to appeal to Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights, which protects the freedom of speech.

In the case of France’s probable future conviction by the EHCR due to the bill in question, it will have to change the law according to the verdict. According to the processes and procedures of the court, if France lost a single trial it would set a precedent for thousands of similar cases.

For this reason, the European Council Committee of Ministers, which is in charge of overseeing verdicts given by the EHCR, has the power to impose sanctions on France, force a changing or abolition of the law in question or even expel France from its membership.

The EHCR defines denying the Nazi genocide as a crime, which was recognized by the Nuremberg Courts as a crime against humanity. However, at this stage it seems quite improbable for the EHCR to recognize the Armenian claims as a crime of denying genocide because no authorized court has so far given any verdict accepting the claims as genocide.

An authority of the European Council remarked: “The EHCR does not see the denial of the Jewish genocide within the boundaries of freedom of thought. Yet, the Armenian problem is definitely a far more disputed issue than the Jewish Genocide. There is not an exemplary verdict by any international court on this subject. Given the previous interpretations by the court, this law on a unanimously undecided subject will most probably be rejected by the EHCR.”

Another option for Ankara is to open an international law suit. But if Turkey chooses to sue France before the EHCR as a state, to force it to abolish the law, it will lose the case and then stand to lose a great deal politically from this course of action.

By Emre Demir, Strasbourg
October 11, 2006
zaman.com




From the columns

These are summaries of selected opinions offered by Turkish columnists from different newspapers on October 10, 2006

Great humanity has a vision and a mission: Sabah's Mehmet Barlas yesterday expressed his opinion on France. The French are rude and insolent to anyone who does not speak French. If one looks at nationalities this way, all Americans are spoilt, Germans are rude, Greeks are lazy, Swedes are cold and Italians never take anything seriously. To simplify things all the more, Europe can be dismissed as a continent that has vowed to break up and colonize other continents. It is home to people who still think in terms of the Crusades. Barlas says “some Europeans” view the Turks, the Chinese, the Arabs and the Hindus exactly the same way. He says, “Good thing not everyone sees nations and countries according to these stereotypes.” Barlas gives a long list of historic characters from France and Germany who defy all the above-mentioned stereotypes. He says the idea that “all French fit a particular mold” just by looking at the deeds of a couple of opportunist politicians trying to grab Armenian votes would be an over simplification. Instead, the rational move would be to work together with those in France who understand the importance of Turkish-French ties. Barlas underlines the concept of “great humanity,” which he defines as the humanity of people who know to use binoculars in addition to microscopes, and who combine their vision with their missions. Barlas concludes by saying that all nations have members of this type of humanity, and emphasizing the importance of these people for a better society.

Multidimensional and strategic initiatives:Güler Kömürcü of Akşam suggested yesterday evaluating recent developments in France -- namely the possible adoption of a controversial bill criminalizing denying claims of Armenian genocide at the hands of Ottoman Turks -- through a multidimensional and strategic approach. France has elections next year, and French politicians are after Armenian votes. To counter that, the Turkish Foreign Ministry, civil society organizations, Turkish communities residing in France and Turkish businessmen are not producing adequate policies. Kömürcü calls on all segments of society to stand up against its unfair treatment by the French.

Disgrace or intellectual terrorism!:Milliyet's Hasan Cemal yesterday slammed the Netherlands' move to ban those denying Armenian genocide claims from politics and France's step that might introduce jail terms for denying Armenian claims. Both are a total disgrace, and no regime calling itself a democracy can allow such dictatorship. This is “intellectual terrorism” of the scale only Hitler or Stalin could live up to. These tendencies will only bring back racism, blind nationalism and increase hatred toward Islam. In conclusion, he recalls Turkey's attitude towards those who defend genocide claims is also an ignominy and expresses his longing for a future when history will really become a school of freedom.

October 11, 2006
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News




Turkish Press Yesterday

Lesson for Sarkozy in three answers:
Sabah yesterday reported the harsh reaction of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, who listed three conditions for the French Parliament to not pass a bill criminalizing denial of Armenian genocide claims.

Sabah said Erdoğan dismissed a trade-off proposal offered by Sarkozy under which he pledged to oppose the bill in return for Turkey opening its borders with Armenia, scrapping laws that forbid statements in favor of allegations that there was genocide and the establishment of a joint commission to study the issue.

Erdoğan told Sarkozy that France was not in a position to ask Turkey to change legislation in the name of freedom of expression while its Parliament is preparing to debate a bill punishing denial of the alleged genocide.

“This contradicts European values,” Justice Minister Cemil Çiçek said after a Cabinet meeting. He criticized the bill, which comes at a time when the European Union is pressing Turkey to improve freedom of expression, and warned that both European values promoting freedom of expression and Turkish-French ties will be damaged if it is passed.

This time the European Union, too, is in opposition:
Yeni Şafak yesterday said the European Union has harshly reacted to France's preparations ot pass a bill punishing individuals who deny the alleged genocide of Armenians at the hands of Ottoman Turks.

The paper reported that Brussels has warned France to act responsibly, while Finland, which currently holds the EU's term presidency, said that passing the bill would be wrong.

European Union Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn expressed concern over possible adoption the bill and warned France of the repercussions if the legislation is passed at the National Assembly this week. Rehn called on French parliamentarians to “take responsibility” and to “take into account the possible outcome of the bill.”

“Our goal is the assessment of the problem through serious discussions. I believe French parliamentarians will act responsibly,” he was quoted as saying by the Anatolia news agency.

The EU commissioner said the bill in question was the problem of France and French lawmakers but stressed that it would have a serious impact on Turkish-EU relations instead of reviving dialogue between the two sides.

Rehn warned that the adoption of the bill would block debate over the Armenian genocide allegations in Turkey, a move that will harm Turkish reforms in the area of freedom of expression.

Turkish officials questioned Rehn, who was in Turkey last week on the occasion of the first anniversary of accession talks, over the French move, complaining that the EU attitude was hurting Turkey's aspirations to join the 25-nation bloc. Joost Lagendijk, head of the Turkish-EU Joint Parliamentary Commission, also criticized recent developments in both France and the Netherlands, which removed the names of Dutch candidates of Turkish origin from its electoral list due to their denial of the genocide allegations.

National boycott against France:
Bugün yesterday reported on Ankara's retaliation plan if France adopts a highly controversial bill criminalizing denial of Armenian claims of genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Turks.

The Turkish Parliament is considering passing a law acknowledging the killings of Algerians under French colonial rule -- from 1830 to 1962 -- as genocide and the introduction of jail terms of up to three years for those who deny it. Another bill under consideration is for imprisonment of those who assert the Armenians were victims of genocide under Ottoman rule. The government is discussing measures to make France regret a decision to pass the bill, if it does so on Oct. 12.

“The massacre committed in Algeria is an issue known throughout the world. I don't see it will be a problem to bring it onto the agenda of Parliament,” Justice and Development Party (AKP) parliamentary group deputy leader Eyüp Fatsa said. Fatsa also added that French plans to criminalize denial of the alleged genocide were unacceptable and contradictory to European Union criteria and reiterated the government's call for the establishment of a joint commission of historians to debate the allegations.

In addition, the government is set to exclude the French from military tenders and nuclear plant construction deals worth billions of dollars.

We've gone crazy:
Posta yesterday reported on statistics of psychiatric illness in Turkey. According to the report, currently 15 million people in Turkey are thought to have some sort of a mental disorder. In other words, one out of every five Turks is psychologically unstable. According to experts, 7 million of these people have the potential to commit crimes and should be undergoing treatment.

Professor Arif Verimli of Yeditepe University complained that the ability of Turkish hospitals to treat long-term psychiatric illness was limited to 9,000 patients.

Verimli also said housewives constituted a major risk group for psychiatric illnesses. According to statistics, 35 percent of housewives suffer from depression. Fifteen percent of depression cases end with suicide if left untreated.

October 11, 2006
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News


Reviewing relations with France


Ankara toughened its stance towards Paris on Monday, saying it will be left with no option but reviewing relations with France, due to a draft bill that would make it a crime to question the Armenian genocide claims.

Turkish officials told reporters yesterday that despite strong efforts to convince French lawmakers that the disputed bill will have negative impacts on bilateral relations, Turkey's European Union process as well as the reconciliation efforts with Armenia, today it seems highly likely that the bill pass the lower house of French Parliament on Thursday.

Stressing that France has entered into an election period, the officials said some of the lawmakers are under pressure from the Armenian lobby and that some others will be in their constituency area and will even not attend the meeting. Officials said that under these conditions, the bill will probably pass from the lower house, even without discussion.

"Turkey will view such a decision by French Parliament as a hostile action," a high-level official from the Foreign Ministry told reporters yesterday. "Despite France being a country that the young Turkish Republic adopted as a model, it will lose all its privilege and influence in Turkey," the official said.

Foreign Ministry officials acknowledged that Turkish people are also benefiting from French companies investing in Turkey, but underlined that if the bill is adopted by the French Parliament it will be impossible to accept the participation of any further French companies in strategic projects like nuclear plants or those in the defense field.

The economic worth of tenders that French firms are looking to participate in is approximately 14 billion euros. There are also some 4 billion euros in military tenders.
Foreign Ministry officials also listed several other possible steps by Turkey to express its unease, in the fields of political, economic and defense ties, but ruled out the option of calling back the Turkish ambassador to Paris, at least for the time being.

If French Parliament's lower house adopts the disputed bill, the process for approval of the law will continue with a vote in the Senate and finally the president's signature. According to Turkish officials, even if the controversial law is adopted, it is highly likely to be challenged by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), on the basis of violating the principle of "freedom of expression."

However Turkish officials have expressed great regret that the French move would fuel among the Turkish public a perception of European double standards and also strengthen the country's anti-Western political trend.

A group of Turkish deputies intensified their efforts on Monday to win the support of party groups for a bill that aims at official recognition of the Algerian "genocide" committed by France, and makings its denial a crime. Parliament sources told The New Anatolian that the draft bill is highly likely to be discussed by the Justice Commission on Wednesday.

However, Foreign Ministry officials adopted a critical approach towards the move. An official told the press that as there is controversy with France it is not wise to include a third party. Underlining that even Algerians do not support such an initiative, the official also said Turkey was insisting that the French move is a big mistake, and a similar one by a group of Turkish deputies would only undermine Turkey's position.

The New Anatolian / Ankara
10 October 2006




Turkish intellectuals against French bill
Time Magazine, in its 60th anniversary issue, pointed out that Europe is more than a geographical expression, whose physical limits have never had a settled definition. But both politicians and intellectuals have referred to it as shared histories and common values.

For an idealist, not only Europe but also the European Union refers to a group of values that enables its people to rejoice in their rights and freedoms, many of which have found expression in the Charter of Human Rights of the Union, of which Turkey is striving to become a member.

And ask any high school student just what those "contemporary values" are, in Ankara or Paris, and both will cite freedom of expression as one.

If you ask the same two imaginary students whether the Armenian "genocide" by the Ottoman Empire in 1915 took place, both would probably differ in their replies. Yet, should you tell one that the holder of the opposite view would either be fined or jailed for that and ask them to reconcile that with freedom of expression, both the French and Turkish high school students may find themselves at a loss for words.

But politicians in both capitals are finding plenty to say, most of which can hardly be considered a positive contribution to the Armenian issue or freedom of expression.

France, which has opened a Pandora's box through its parliamentary attempts on the Armenian "genocide" bill that dates back a decade, argues that Turkey should come to terms with its history. The words of President Chirac from Armenia, which claim that a nation only becomes greater by admitting its past errors, become a mockery given that only a few years ago, France declared that history should be written by the historians when it came to its own history with Algeria.

On the other hand, one has to admit that it does cause a strange sensation to hear Turkish Justice Minister Cemil Cicek, who has been hostile to an immediate change to infamous Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), speaking of freedom of expression.

Today, just as six months ago when the French Parliament buried the draft law on the denial of Armenian "genocide," much is being said about the draft law and Turkey's possible responses. We know them far too well: Turkey may slap a consumers' boycott on French goods, and French defense companies may kiss defense deals good-bye as well as any part in the construction of a major nuclear power plant. None of these come under Turkey's obligations under the Customs Union.

Political relations between the two countries could also suffer, as they suffered after France ratified the first bill in 2000. It could also lead to endless consequences: What to do when a visiting professor, or minister, or Foreign Ministry undersecretary, denies the Armenian "genocide" took place? What to do when faced by an organized movement, such as the Turkish diaspora mobilizing in Paris, Lyon or Aix-en-Provence and collectively denying the existence of the so-called genocide?

But is the main question is moral rather than political? How would democracy, freedom of expression or even history be served by the Parliament of a third country seeking to write history and trying to silence one view through fines and imprisonment?

What would be sad, in my opinion, is that France, a country which has ties with Armenia and Turkey, would lose any chance it has of playing a constructive role in that dark page of history that haunts the present ties between the two countries, for it has chosen, either unwittingly or out of myopic count of votes, to silence the voice of one side. The amendment to the bill that aims to exempt academics from the law is a means to address that concern, but it falls short.

It would also be sadder to see the draft spill over to Turkish-European Union ties. Olli Rehn, the European Commission's enlargement chief, knew that too well when he asked French deputies to act responsibly.

The only bright spot about the debate is the attitude of Turkish intellectuals, who, without nationalism or conservatism, raised their voices against the bill, which they see as an obstacle to freedom of expression.

Elif Safak, Hrant Dink and Orhan Pamuk been charged at home for statements that allegedly denigrated Turkishness by recognizing the Armenian "genocide." Having suffered under Article 301, they are now taking a clear stance on the French bill.

Perhaps Turks should be very thankful to French democracy. It's united its government and intellectuals around the concept of freedoms.

Now perhaps it is time that French intellectuals, diplomats, deputies and officials decided once and all where they stand on this law that touches the heart of freedom of expression. The question has been brought up, buried and reburied too many times.

Nazlan Ertan
nazlanertan@thenewanatolian.com
10 October 2006




Erdoğan slams Sarkozy's conditions
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan blasted conditions French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy laid down in return for voting down a controversial bill penalizing any denial of the alleged genocide of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.

Presidential hopeful Sarkozy said on France-Inter radio that he had spoken with Erdoğan on the telephone twice with regard to the French bill, which will be debated at the National Assembly on Thursday, and told him that they could oppose the bill if Turkey opens its border gate with neighboring Armenia, scrap Article 301, which the European Union says is restrictive of freedom of expression, from its penal code, and establish a joint commission between Turkey and Armenia to study the genocide allegations.

In response to Sarkozy's conditions, Erdoğan said it was the Turkish side which proposed the establishment of a joint commission for academic debates on genocide allegations and made clear that Turkey's good intentions were not welcomed by Armenia, which rejected the proposal.

On Article 301, Erdoğan said the French suggestion on that issue had nothing to do with the issue, stressing that France was not in a position to demand something from Turkey.

“First of all France should take a look at itself,” Erdoğan said.

Facing pressure from the EU to amend or scrap Article 301 under which scores of Turkish intellectuals have been put on trial, Turkey has accused the bloc of applying double standards, saying that France itself is blocking free speech under the bill that it plans to legislate.

On opening the border gate, Erdoğan said Armenia should first act with good will toward Turkey's approach.

The border gate between Turkey and Armenia has been closed for more than a decade. Turkey closed the gate and severed its diplomatic relations with Armenia after Armenian troops occupied Azeri territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Ankara now says normalization of ties depends on Armenian withdrawal from Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as on progress in resolution of a series of bilateral disagreements, including Armenia stopping to support Armenian diaspora efforts to get international recognition for the alleged genocide.

October 10, 2006
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News




Parliament weighs retaliation against France
Members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) are still discussing whether it is correct to retaliate against France with a law that penalizes any denial of the killings of Algerians under French colonial rule, after France's renewed attempts to pass a similar law.

Parliament's Justice Commission will debate proposals on Algerian "genocide" on Wednesday, a day before the French bill is debated at the National Assembly in Paris.

CHP deputies consider it incorrect to debate the proposals at the commission, arguing that they will have acted just like France, if they do so, while the AKP is still undecided.

AKP officials do not give a clear answer to questions whether they will extend support to the proposals but it seems they will clarify their stance after French debates at the National Assembly over the controversial bill that criminalizes any denial of the alleged Armenian genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Empire in the last century.

The bill to criminalize the denial of genocide allegations was first tabled in May but the debate ran out of parliamentary time before a vote could be held.

The Turkish proposals were put forward by independent deputy Mahmut Koçak, opposition Motherland Party (ANAVATAN) deputies Reyhan Balandı and İbrahim Özdoğan and AKP deputy Mahmut Göksu. Three of the proposals call for the recognition of the killings of Algerians under French colonial rule -- from 1830 to 1962 -- as genocide and the introduction of jail terms up to three years for those who deny it. The fourth calls for the imprisonment of those who assert the Armenians were victims of genocide under Ottoman rule.

“The massacre committed in Algeria is an issue known throughout the world. I don't see it will be a problem to bring it onto the agenda of Parliament,” AKP parliamentary group deputy leader Eyüp Fatsa said. Fatsa also added that French plans to criminalize denial of the alleged genocide were unacceptable and contradictory to European Union criteria and reiterated the government's call for the establishment of a joint commission of historians to debate the allegations.

CHP deputy leader Onur Öymen criticized the French bill, calling on the government to take measures before the bill is voted on, on Thursday and urged the public and nongovernmental organizations to protest it.

Öymen was briefing reporters together with CHP Istanbul deputy Şükrü Elekdağ with regard to their recent trip to Paris where they lobbied against the French bill.

Öymen said the French lawmakers he met were against the law and accused Armenia of opening the way for debates at the National Assembly. “Little Armenia wants to take huge Turkey prisoner in the area of politics.”

In comments on Turkish plans to retaliate against France with an Algeria “genocide” law, Elekdağ said it would be a mistake to debate proposals at the parliamentary commission. “If Parliament legislates such a bill, this would mean we'll have acted the same way as the countries that we criticize.”

ANAVATAN deputies, however, argued that the Turkish proposals should be brought onto Parliament's agenda.

October 10, 2006
ANKARA - TDN Parliament Bureau




French ties brace for chill
Political ties are set for deterioration, with officials saying the level of contacts is likely to be downgraded. France may also see its companies excluded from lucrative Turkish tenders

Turkish-French ties are heading for a chilly period over a bill in France criminalizing denial of an alleged genocide of Armenians, with political and business relations likely to receive the most serious blow.

Passage of the bill, set to be taken up by the French National Assembly on Thursday, may also have a spillover impact on Turkey's European Union ties, with an official saying that such an “arbitrary” move on a historically contested issue would also raise questions on the “European values” and the level of commitment to them in practice.

“This will lead one to question what the European values are all about,” said an official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The bill, submitted by the French Socialist Party and apparently backed by many governing conservatives as well, provides for up to one year in jail and a 45,000-euro fine for anyone who disputes charges that the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire were subject to genocide at the beginning of the last century.

Ankara has little hope that the bill would fail, like it did in May, given the heated election atmosphere in France and politicians' hopes to win Armenian votes. Even President Jacques Chirac, who usually remained cautious on the contested allegations, has recently made statements during a visit to Armenia, openly endorsing the so-called genocide.

The French plans to pass the bill have caused uproar and sparked calls for a boycott of French goods in retaliation. In Parliament, several proposals have been presented by lawmakers to recognize French atrocities in Algeria as genocide.

Keeping anger in check, Ankara is willing to go for a restrained, though by no means mild, reaction and is reserved towards boycott calls and legislation on “genocide in Algeria.”

“The French move is restrictive of freedom of expression. If we pass a law on Algeria, we would have done the same,” the official said. As for the French bill, said the official, passing a bill to punish those who disagree with Armenian allegations is, in the first place, against the universal norm of freedom of expression, strongly promoted by the EU.

“This calls into question the very notion of the Europeanness of France,” said the official.

“This contradicts with European values,” said Justice Minister Cemil Çiçek, speaking to reporters after a Cabinet meeting, and criticized the French bill that comes as the EU presses Turkey to improve freedom of expression. “We hope that it will not happen, otherwise both these values and Turkish-French ties will be undermined.”

Ties to receive blow:
The rising skepticism over French commitment to European values, which Turkey is insistently told to fully implement as part of its EU membership bid, goes hand in hand with plans to respond to a possible passage of the bill, which Ankara calls a “hostile” move.

Officials say the political ties are most likely to receive a blow, with frequency and level of contacts to be decreased. Political consultations are also likely to lose pace if not scrapped at all.

In the economic field, French bidders may be excluded from lucrative tenders, particularly in defense purchases and in the planned construction of nuclear power plants.

“French companies should know that they will not get a share from the nuclear, plane, helicopter, dam tenders,” said Zafer Çağlayan, head of the Ankara Chamber of Industry, who will visit France on Thursday to publicly reject the Armenian allegations.

He is one of the businessmen calling for a boycott of French goods but cautioned yesterday that the boycott should not extend to companies which have invested and are doing business in Turkey.

French companies, such as carmaker Peugeot and food company Danone, are providing jobs for thousands of Turks, a fact that proves a boycott against these companies would turn detrimental to Turkish employees.

October 10, 2006
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News




Deputies offer expelling illegal Armenian workers
A former foreign minister's idea to expel tens of thousands of illegal Armenian workers in Turkey in apparent retaliation for the probable adoption by the French National Assembly of a highly controversial bill concerning an alleged Armenian genocide had found support from a veteran main opposition lawmaker as of Monday.

The idea was originally voiced by former Foreign Minister Yaşar Yakış, head of Parliament's European Union Harmonization Commission, during a meeting in the northwestern province of Düzce in a show of reaction against the French bill penalizing any denial of the alleged genocide of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.

Seventy-thousand illegal Armenian workers in Turkey should be sent back to Armenia in response to the bill, Yakış offered. “You may say that the mistake was made by France, but the ones punished are Armenian. However, Armenia should as well be aware of its responsibilities,” he was quoted as saying by the Doğan News Agency.

Yakış based his argument on the fact that the Armenian lobby in France played a key role in bringing the controversial bill to the agenda of the French National Assembly.

Şükrü Elekdağ, also a former senior diplomat and deputy of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), at a press conference at Parliament on Monday, said that France has been exploiting Turkey's EU membership process and was trying to get Turkey to eventually cave in.

Over 70,000 Armenian citizens have been illegally working in Turkey but have been tolerated, Elekdağ said. However, Turkey should now implement the related laws and gradually send these illegal workers back, he added.

In addition to this measure, Turkey should also decrease the number of flights between Istanbul and Yerevan, which is seven flights per week at the moment, Elekdağ also added.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News




How to react to French hostility?
It appears that Turkey should limit its reaction to the French hostility by not inviting the French public and private sector companies to lucrative civilian and military tenders and discard the existing French bids in the programs that have not yet been granted to anyone

There is a national consensus in Turkey that the French move to criminalize denial of the alleged Armenian “genocide” is a hostile action against Turkey that will not serve deep-rooted economic, political and cultural relations between France and Turkey, French interests here or the interests of Armenia.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry has not yet given up hope that somehow the French politicians may realize the serious consequences of their attempt to rewrite history in the chambers of their Parliament, which is so blatantly violating freedom of thought, the central pillar of modern Europe. The French would also be sending the message that vote hunting might be superior to any moral value or principle.

As the draft was debated last May and was postponed just before a vote was held on it, the French Parliament is not expected to debate it again when the issue comes on its agenda on Oct. 12. The bill might just be voted and dispatched to the Senate. The draft, which calls for up to four years' imprisonment and a fine of up to 45,000 euros for those publicly denying the alleged “genocide” of Armenians between 1915 and 1917, will become law only after the Senate approves it and the French presidency signs it into law.

At a time when most parliamentarians and senators are on the campaign trail, most Turkish officials say it is very likely that only a small number of parliamentarians who have committed themselves to the legislating of the draft will be present in the chamber, while many opponents will most probably prefer to continue campaigning rather than returning to Paris just to attend the parliamentary session on the issue. Still, they hope the French government and the president may intervene at the last minute and prevent the unleashing of a development that could land Turkish-French relations in an unprecedented crisis.

A statement is apparently already ready at the Foreign Ministry condemning the development and stressing that the relationship between the two countries in all spheres will never return to normal.

But Turkey and France have such an intense web of relations that Turks should avoid self-destruction in trying to hurt the French. A boycott of French products, though it might appear appealing for most Turks, may inflict more damage on the Turks than the French in view of the fact that thousands of Turks are being employed at Turkish-French joint ventures in our country. Of course, we have a tendency to act crazy sometimes. We spend huge amounts and buy Italian ties and then burn them to protest Italy. This is no fiction. It indeed happened during the Abdullah Öcalan crisis that we went through with Italy in 1999. It won't be a surprise for us to see some lunatic Turks burning their Renaults or Peugeots in front of the French Embassy in Ankara to protest the French. We have to first weigh the wisdom of such an action and how much it would affect the mood of the French before engaging in such tragicomic episodes.

On the other hand, taking further measures to intensify the “blockade” of Armenia by Turkey or the legislation of an “Algeria genocide bill” by Parliament would mean pulling in some third country into a problem that we have with France on a bilateral level. How much say does Armenia have in the legislation of such bill by the French Parliament? Would not we legitimize the French rewriting of history in Parliament if we make a similar move and criminalize the denial of genocide by France in Algeria? Besides, since Algeria is not taking such a move, why we should do it?

There are also suggestions that we should recall our ambassador in Paris and send back the French ambassador in Ankara. Why? Such a move would mean depriving ourselves of a vital channel of communication at a time when we need the maximum effort of both ambassadors to overcome the troubles we have. Besides, would it not be a comedy to restore full diplomatic relations a while later because of some development that would make it an absolute necessity to do so?

Thus, it appears that Turkey should limit its reaction to the French hostility to not inviting French public and private sector companies to bid on lucrative civilian and military tenders and to discarding existing French bids in programs that have not yet been awarded, while on an individual basis we could opt not to buy imported French products (not those produced in Turkey).

That, we believe, might be the best way to avoid self-destruction while trying to punish the French hostility directed at our country.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006
TDN editorial by Yusuf KANLI




Real train accident to occur at 11:00 a.m. in Paris
We all thought the train accident would happen in late autumn in Brussels. However, things have changed. You need to get ready for it. The real accident will take place in Paris. Unfortunately, our relations with French politicians, which we see deteriorating by the minute, will not be repaired any time soon. It will be sad, but there's no way to stop it.

It is impossible to understand French politicians. They either cannot perceive the extent and the depth of the wound they are about to make or they don't care about how much France's relations with Turkey will be damaged as a result.
Turkish and French trains will crash into each other around noon on Wednesday in Paris. It will be a huge accident and there will be blood everywhere. It will take many years to heal the wounds.

We always suspected a train accident around the corner. However, the accident we anticipated was the one European Union Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn noted. The accident was supposed to happen over Cyprus in Brussels. We are suddenly confronted with a different accident.

France changed the course of the train and diverted it to Paris. We can even tell you the time and the place of the accident: Thursday Oct. 12, around 11:00 a.m.

I can't believe a great country like France can risk mutual interests in such a careless way, ignoring the accident's consequences.

Either the France we used to know no longer exists, to be replaced by a country without vision or strength, or we were taught about the wrong country.

As history records what is happening, they will record the attitude of the French parliament in dark bold letters.

Armenian bill looks likely to pass:
Those I have talked to in Paris tell me that preventing its passage through Parliament this time is quite improbably. It appears we will now enter a period of aggressive steps.

Turkish society will now perceive France in a bad light.

Anti-Europeans in our midst will definitely exploit what's going on. They will once again confuse apples and oranges. Some will say: “The French took this decision. Why should we annul Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) then?” Others will be calling for the annulment of all EU harmonization laws.

It will be sad.
It's not due to anti-Turkish sentiments:We are faced with a very difficult process.

Before we begin this, we need to know about certain facts. The main one is that the vote that will take place in the French parliament has nothing to do with anti-Turkish sentiments. The French public and its parliamentarians are acting the way they are not because they hate us but due to many reasons, including domestic political issues and vote considerations.

One cannot explain what they are doing by making arguments based on common sense.

Turkey is just a small part of a bigger debate. It has nothing to do with Turks committing genocide against Armenians. There are quite different things involved.

The real problems will arise within France if the bill that criminalizes denial of the genocide becomes law.

Bill will cause problems for France:
In a country like France, which respects freedom of expression, barriers that prevent people from openly expressing their opinions will cause problems. While some try to link this bill to genocide denial, the Armenian issue will be interpreted quite differently by some groups.

On top of that, a series of incidents that could be assessed by historians will now be resolved through the votes of parliamentarians. This will cause more debates.

When one considers the fact that the Constitutional Court is against such laws, we can almost see what the new debates will lead to.

In summary, no matter how one perceives this, the process that will begin on Thursday will create more trouble within France than in Turkish-French relations. Even today criticism emanating from within the socialist group is becoming more vocal; however, it seems the votes needed to pass the law are there. Despite the fact that the bill was introduced by the socialists, it is now being supported by almost all parties. It seems the 200,000 votes wielded by Armenians in the 2007 presidential elections are very important.

Socialists backed away from their promise:
Last May this bill was only prevented from passing when President Jacques Chirac and Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy criticized it at the last minute and academics condemned it. The bill was suspended after an agreement between Parliament Speaker Jean Louis Debre and the socialist group. Later on, everything changed.

The Socialists were concerned about the initiatives of the ruling party and feared that Chirac would run for the presidency next year. That started the attack from every direction, and one weapon they had was this bill.

The bill is supported by all groups, and consequently it will be a miracle if it does not pass.

When will it become law?
The first step is for Parliament to approve the bill criminalizing denial of the Armenian genocide.

After this vote, the Senate needs to approve it, too. There is no time limit on when the senate needs to vote on it. It can wait weeks or years if it wants to.

That's not all.

A bill that is approved by parliament and the Senate can only come into effect after the president approves it.

The president may not put his signature on it. He may also just wait for a time before making his decision. The French media say, depending on public reaction, that the bill may be suspended or may become law before the presidential elections in May.

We can easily say that the bill will poison French-Turkish relations for some time.

Mehmet Ali Birand
Turkish Daily News
October 10, 2006




Rehn warns France: Act responsibly
European Union Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn yesterday expressed concerns over possible adoption of a French bill that criminalizes any denial of the alleged genocide of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire and warned France of the repercussions if the bill is voted for at the National Assembly this week.

Rehn called on French parliamentarians to “take responsibility” and to “take into account the possible outcome of the bill.”

“Our goal is the assessment of the problem through serious discussions. I believe French parliamentarians will act responsibly,” he was quoted as saying by the Anatolia news agency.

The EU commissioner said the bill in question was a problem of France and French lawmakers but stressed that it would have a serious impact on Turkish-EU relations, instead of reviving dialogue between the two sides.

Rehn warned that the adoption of the bill would block debates over the Armenian genocide allegations in Turkey, a move which would harm Turkish steps in the area of freedom of expression.

Faced with increasing warnings from the EU criticizing Ankara for restricting freedom of expression under an infamous article in its penal code that has landed a string of intellectuals into court, Turkey has accused the bloc of applying double standards, arguing that France itself was blocking free debate on a historical subject by criminalizing denial of the alleged genocide.

Turkish officials questioned Rehn, who was in Turkey last week on the occasion of the first anniversary of accession talks, over the French move, complaining that the EU attitude was hurting Turkey's aspirations to join the 25-nation bloc. Joost Lagendijk, head of the Turkish-EU joint parliamentary commission, also criticized recent developments in both France and the Netherlands, which removed the names of Dutch candidates of Turkish origin from its electoral list due to their denial of the genocide allegations.

Lagendijk warned such moves would tarnish the EU's credibility towards Turkey.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006
ANKARA – Turkish Daily News




Can more measures be taken by the French?

Dear Mr. Sarkozy,

We understand you have advised our prime minister that a commission that includes no historians be formed on the Armenian issue.

Way to go, Mr. Sarkozy. Now why didn't anyone think of that before? Excellent idea! But is it really enough? I think you could do more. Let me give you some suggestions that even the diaspora couldn't think up.

The day after tomorrow the Ottoman genocide issue will be voted on in your parliament. I hope you get your wish, but somehow I feel the steps France is taking may not be sufficient. I mean, surely the vote may yield some results to your liking, but if you added just one more sentence to the resolution, it could elevate all of you to levels heretofore undreamed of, similar to a power trip. Ha! Ha! Ha!

Here is the sentence:
"Every Turkish national entering any French port holding a Turkish passport who faces a French immigration offiicial must be asked right there and then whether the Ottomans committed genocide upon the Armenians in 1915."

If the answer is ?no,? which it is very likely to be, give the immigration officials the power to refuse entry and put them right back on a plane, train or a ship and watch them return to where they came from with smiles on their faces. Why a smile? Well, I figure it is better to go back to square one than to spend time in a French prison. Besides, this way you can save hard-earned French taxpayers' money by not spending money on food, electricity and water for these types of prisoners.

I'm glad you thought of keeping international historians out of the commission hearings. No doubt you noticed that the list of those who claim there was no genocide seems to be growing longer and longer as each one reads the archives and reports with every passing day. Here is what you should fear: If you leave these historians alone, who can guarantee that they won't organize and proclaim the diaspora and French politicians are building up a lie and a farce? I surely wouldn't want that to be branded on French politicians' foreheads.

Keeping historians out of a work group is a super idea. Let me give you some suggestions as to who should be a member of such a group. You can, naturally, pick out your excellent members from the French and Southern California Armenian diaspora, but to make it more gullible and meaningful, you should also consider some from the Turkish side. Elif Şafak and Fatma Müge Göçek together and Taner Akçam should surely be on the team because of their closeness to the Zorian Institute, and all faculty members at Michigan University. (Funny the group has gathered there isn't it? One wonders why. But then, we are here to eat the grape and not ask about the vineyard, aren't we? Ha! Ha!). A journalist by the name of Yelda Özcan should surely be included. Why? Because Özcan said, "I am embarrassed about being a Turk." You couldn't get any better than that, could you?

The rest of your committee members I will leave up to you. Under no circumstances, I beg of you, should you include Stanford Shaw, Justin McCarthy, Bernard Lewis, Gilles Veinstein or hundreds of others. In fact, at the first meeting, brand such historians as traitors. That should show them and destroy their hopes of a Nobel Prize or something. In fact, let us hope the Nobel Prize for conniving and distorting the truth and fooling people on the grandest scale will be given to you.

That is my last word on this issue.

October 10, 2006
AYŞE ÖZGÜN
Turkish Daily News




Socialist guest in Ankara criticizes French "genocide bill"
A high ranking representative of the European Socialist Party (PES) used the spotlight yesterday in Ankara to criticize the "Armenian genocide bill" coming up for a vote in two days in the French Parliament. Finnish PES representative Paavo Lippopen met yesterday with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and noted that "we do not find France's efforts right."

Erdogan also took the opportunity to again criticize the French bill, asserting "We have opened up our archives. We would have liked if other countries concerned did the same thing. Despite all of our good efforts and intentions on this matter, we have not seen an appropriate response." Erdogan also pointed at what he called the mistake of a third country such as France entering into a dispute between Turkey and Armenia, and how enterprises such as the Armenian genocide bill in France would only add more difficulty to the general problem.

Hürriyet




Turks in France Indifferent to Draft Law
The Turkish community living in France is noticeably indifferent to the draft law that would penalize those who deny the alleged Armenian genocide.

If the bill passes during the French parliament Thursday’s session, any of the approximately 450,000 Turks living in France could become potential criminals.

The number of Turkish nationals who become French citizens is already suffering.

The Armenian Diaspora has mobilized to pass the law whereas Turks remain silent when faced with a law that mortgages their future.

France has the biggest Armenian population in Europe with nearly 450,000 Armenians.

Armenians started to immigrate to France in the 1920’s and quickly adapted to the country and obtained important positions in French society.

Armenians, now mostly French citizens, have since organized and created a powerful lobby.

On the other hand, Turks who came to France in the 1970’s lack the same power Armenians possess though they have the same population.

The majority of Turks still live in their “Anatolian” ghettos.

Though they have the right to double citizenship, the estimated number of French citizen Turks is only 80,000.

‘Will Turks face the possibility of prison?’

Turks in France are indifferent to the genocide law, a vital issue for their children who will probably spend the rest of their life in this country.

Ali Gedikoglu, Chairman of the Multicultural Youth Association (COJEP), a non-governmental organization established by Turks in France, says this passivity stems from Turks’ living in isolation from the rest of the society and he adds that Turks do not know how to cope with such situations.

If Turks knew how to use their democratic rights and realized their power, the Armenian Diaspora could be counteracted, Gedikoglu said.

Gedikoglu quoted French politicians as saying, “Armenians follow us wherever we go and ask us about the genocide, even at irrelevant times,” and maintained Turks can only be effective by following suit.

France may have trouble in putting hundred thousands of people in prison, but it is almost certain that it will put obstacles before the tens of thousands of Turkish youths in the country.

Every Turk wishing to obtain a higher position in the bureaucracy, politics, and even business will be asked the question, “Do you recognize the genocide?”

Pointing out they are even asked which mosque they frequent during the citizenship exam, Turks strongly believe the genocide will be among these questions from now on.

Turkish Democrats Union in Europe France chief Ahmet Ogras states the draft law will trigger conflicts between communities. He points to the long term consequences: “Armenians are powerful today, but what will happen as the number of Turkish origin French reaches 450,000 in 20 years time? Will these people try to take revenge for this?”

Ogras points out such attempts carry psychological consequences, and these side effects will be a rude wake up call to Turks in France.

Prof. Kastoryano: Turkish society will be excluded

Professor Riva Kastoryano from the Political Sciences Institute in Paris points out that with the law France will accuse the ancestors of 450,000 Turks, thus alienating Turks in the country. He adds that the results of this could be dangerous for France.

“Will the French Parliament punish the Turkish state with this law?” Kastoryano asks. “Turkey is no colony, it is an independent state. France has no right to discuss Turkey’s history. The parliament should mind its own affairs.”

By ALI IHSAN AYDIN, PARIS
October 10, 2006
zaman.com




Genocide Bill Takes France Back to Middle Ages
Reactions are gradually mounting against French legislation that would outlaw denials that the World War I-era killings of Armenians amounted to a genocide.

Noting that France has been the pioneer of freedom of expression since 1789, Turkey Associations and Stock Markets Union (TOBB) President Rifat Hisarciklioglu commented that any attempts to prevent debates about the alleged genocide would turn France back to the Middle Ages. The so-called Armenian Genocide Bill brought to the agenda in May is pointless, Hisarciklioglu said.

He repeated the proposal that the genocide be debated and dealt with on a scientific platform after the archives in Turkey and Armenia were thoroughly analyzed and he added Armenia distances itself from the issue.

Ankara Industrialists Association (ASO) President Zafer Caglayan warned France not to endanger commercial relations, and called on Turkish citizens not to burn French goods in the streets.

“You mention justice, human rights and freedom of expression, yet on the other side you say, ‘If you mention it, I will charge you.’ Then, I will arrive in France to be accused and say that there is no Armenian genocide, which is a fallacy.”

Caglayan stated he would approach France on the subject by citing trade figures that France will deprive of .

There are lots of ventures attracting French businessmen, especially in the defense industry, aviation, energy and dam tenders in Turkey, he emphasized. He added that French businessmen should take notice that they would fail to win privatization tenders and make any investment in the future.

Meanwhile, Turk-Is Syndicate President Salih Kilic sent a letter to Secretary-General of the European Trade Union Confederation, John Monks.

Reacting to the bill, Kilic recalled that 300,000 Armenians live in France and the presidential elections will be held in 2007.

In his letter, Kilic wrote: “It is unacceptable that a country is insulted for the sake of political interests. The ones criticizing the 301st article of Turkish Penal Code in Turkey ignore one of the Europe’s main principles, ‘freedom of expression’, which is an explicit double standard.”

By Ercan Baysal, Kayseri
October 10, 2006
zaman.com




Genocide Bill Provokes Strong Reactions in Turkey
A proposed bill in the French Parliament, which will make it illegal to deny ‘genocide,’ is threatening ties between Ankara and Paris. In 2001, Paris described the 1915 events as the “Armenian Genocide.” With an article to be added to the present law on Thursday, “those who deny the genocide” will be sentenced to one to four years in prison and fined 45 thousand Euros.

Turkey has decided what strategy to adopt in case the bill passes. Political relations with France will suffer, visits will be cancelled and French companies will be excluded from civil and military tenders.

There is an air of despair in Ankara before the vote. Referring to the 2007 elections, sources say: “In French politics the hunger for getting more votes overtakes just about anything. We don’t intend to surrender; but there is nothing much to do.”

The vote on Thursday will not be the end of the world; but it could be the beginning of the end. An authority in Ankara describes what is happening in Paris as “stupidity.”

The endorsement of the president and the senate president is needed for the legal process to be completed. It cannot be said yet as to how long it will take; it could take several months or be delayed until after the election.

It is unlikely that French politicians will raise any objections about the vote. The only way the bill could be cancelled is to have a French citizen refer the case to the European Court of Human Rights. An authority from the Foreign Ministry says that the Court would probably consider the bill to be against freedom of speech.

Last Friday Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul asked his French colleague Douste-Blazy, “How do you explain this in terms of freedom of speech?” He also went on to warn that: “Turkey is not a country to be underestimated. This could cause irrevocable damage to our relations. France will lose Turkey.”

What will be Turkey’s reaction if the bill in question becomes law? As when Italy was implicated with Abdullah Ocalan, head of the PKK, in 1998, Ankara will act “not softly; but tough in a balanced manner.” A stern statement will be made on Thursday and the attitude of the French will be described as “hostile.”

Ankara’s greatest trump card is the economy. Not only are sanctions against French companies which have investments in Turkey and the boycotting of their products are threatened, but also their Turkish partners and Turkish workers employed therein.

Economic sanctions are more of a long-term process. It is well known that the French have serious interests in the aviation industry and nuclear energy tenders. Ankara openly warns, “If the law passes, forget about the $5bn nuclear power station tender”.

An authority from the Foreign Ministry said: “What would hurt most is the economy. Our relations with France on a political level will also be considered. The air of friendship will be a thing of the past. We will not take France as seriously as before and our relations would fall to a new low. Mutual high-ranking visits would stop.”

There are no plans to recall the ambassador however, in order not to threaten relations too seriously at this stage.

Foreign Ministry Reluctant to Respond with ‘Algeria’ Bill

The Foreign Ministry does not agree with the idea of preparing a draft bill regarding France’s history in Algeria.

Ministry sources commented: “We don’t have to be that emotional. What the parliament will do must be directly related to France. A third country should not be involved. The shame of France is self-evident in the present bill.”

According to diplomatic sources, there is also work incumbent on non-governmental organizations. Turkey’s NGO’s are expected to contact their counterparts in France following Ankara prompting them to raise their voice. They could put advertisements defending Turkey’s position in newspapers like Le Monde and Le Figaro. They could organize demonstrations.

Also important is engaging French intellectuals. When the bill was first discussed in May a group of French intellectuals reacted to it by saying, “Parliaments cannot write history.”

Possible reactions in the aftermath of the bill’s becoming law should not be directed to the Armenian people living in Turkey. Ankara is taking great care not to hurt or upset them.

By SULEYMAN KURT, ANKARA
October 10, 2006
zaman.com

BRUSSELS - EU commissioner for enlargement Olli Rehn criticised the draft legislation on the so called Armenian Genocide in French Parliament and pointed out to the possible harm that will be caused by steps taken to that end.

Expressing his views to the press, Rehn said ''while the draft in question was French parliament's problem, it may however would lead to serious problems in EU-Turkey relations''.

Rehn said he is worried about the possibility of adoption of the draft legislation punishing those who didn't acknowledge the so called Armenian genocide, and said such a development would harm the dialogue between Turkey and EU.

Rehn also warned that if the draft was to be put to vote it would block all the debate about the Armenian issue and would jeopardise the steps taken towards freedom of thought in Turkey.

Rehn, in his remarks, also referred to his recent visit to Turkey and pointed out that the Turkish public believe what France was trying to do was in complete opposition with France's approach to freedom of thought in Turkey and France itself was harming freedom of expression.

Rehn called on the French MPs to fulfill their responsibilities and said "I'm asking French parliamentarians to consider the possible consequences of this draft. Our aim is to deal with this problem within a serious framework of discussion. I believe French parliamentarians will act responsibly".

10/9/2006
http://www.turkishpress.com

Three Provisions From Turkey-Sceptic Sarkozy

French Minister of Internal Affairs Sarkozy has set up three pre-conditions after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanded support on so-called 'Armenian genocide' draft bill. Sarkozy sets up three conditions. French Minister of Internal Affiars Sarkozy has set up three conditions for Prime Minister Erdo?an in return for retreat his support from the Armenian genocide denial bill:

* No historian-condition should be imposed in the commission which will investigate the Armenian claims

* Turkey will remove clause 301 which limits freedom of thought

* Turkey will open the borders to Armenia

French sources claimed that Prime Minister Erdo?an has responded Sarkozy's conditions by saying: "I will think about this."

Meanwhile France's "Armenian genocide bill" has caused ailment in Algeria. Algerians have blamed France for being hypocritical since France had refused to recognize massacres in Algeria as "genocide".

Turkey called Armenia to set up a joint commission to discuss the historical disputes. However the Yerevan Government strongly rejected Turkey's offer. Armenians say "there is nothing to be discussed.

Turkey-Armenia territorial borders have been closed since the Armenian forces occupied neigbouring Azerbaijan's territories. 20 percent of Azerbaijan is still under the Armenian occupation yet France put no pressure on Armenia for the occupation. Azerbaijan and Turkey blame France of being in Christian solidarity with Armenia. Turkey and Azerbaijan are both Turkish and Muslim countries. Turkey-Armenian air borders are open for air traffic. More than 70,000 Armenia citizens live and work in Turkey.

Armenia does not recognise Turkey's national borders and accuse Turkey of not recognising its genocide claims. Turkey says the 1915 events was communal clashes and more than 520,000 Muslim Ottomans were massacred by the armed Armenian forces.

09 October 2006
Turkish Weekly

Turkish-French Business Council: France Abuses Turkey's Eu Process For Domestic Purposes

"We regret the attitude of France as it uses Turkey as a domestic policy tool," said Ugur Yuce, the head of Turkish-French Business Council. In an information meeting organized by the French Business Movement (MEDEF) for the Breton region representatives, French businessmen were informed on the Turkish economy, Turkish laws, Turkish banking system and investment milieu.

Answering the questions about the voting of a bill on September 12th which considers the denial of the so-called Armenian genocide a crime, Yuce said, "we need to set apart the two issues. Politics and economics are different areas.

Yet economy is a good tool to affect politics. That`s what we aim at. Yuce stressed that it was dreary that French President Jacques Chirac touched upon so-called Armenian genocide in his statement in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia and reminded that while 400,000 people from Armenian diaspora would vote in the coming elections, only 40,000 people of Turkish descent would go to the polls in France. Yuce underscored that they aim at developing the economic relations between France and Turkey.


'TURKEY, A REALISTIC AND CONCRETE MARKET'

The Breton region co-chairman of Turkish-French Business Council Michel Melot said that there wasn`t an obstacle hindering the development of economic relations between the two countries. Upon a question whether he finds Turkish economy risky, Melot indicated they need to evaluate risk from a professional perspective. Melot underlined that Turkey had the lead among the developing countries and the amendments to laws regarding foreign investments were very positive. Melot added that Turkey is a realistic and concrete market.

09 October 2006
Turkish Weekly

Turkey may hit back at France with Algeria ‘genocide’ law

Parliament's Justice Commission will debate this week proposals that foresee penalties for any denial of the killings of Algerians under French colonial rule, after France's renewed attempts to pass a similar bill calling for five years in jail to anyone who denies the alleged genocide of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire in the last century.

Members of the parliamentary commission will discuss the proposals on Wednesday, a day before the French bill is debated at the National Assembly in Paris. The Turkish proposals were put forward by independent deputy Mahmut Koçak, opposition Motherland Party (ANAVATAN) deputies Reyhan Balandı and İbrahim Özdoğan.

Köksal Toptan, head of the Justice Commission, told the Anatolia news agency that Turkey always attributed high importance to its relations with France and kept its ties with that country at high level.

“But it seems that France does not seem to be influenced by Turkey's [constructive] stance,” he said and claimed that the French attitude would damage Turkish-French ties, as well as Turkish-Armenian ties.

Toptan said it was out of the question for Turkey to accept the French initiative, while the European Union was demanding Turkey to advance freedom of expression and ignored Turkish calls to discuss the genocide allegations at a joint commission of historians.

In remarks published in daily Sabah over the weekend, Toptan said he had initially ignored the proposals in question that were submitted in May -- apparently in reaction to the debate in France.

“I just swept them under the carpet,” he reportedly said.

But following renewed attempts in France to pass the bill on the alleged Armenian genocide, Toptan said he had ordered that the proposals be put on the commission's agenda for Wednesday.

“If the French parliament is acting like that, we must give a response ... in the name of our pride,” he said.

Asked by Anatolia whether the proposals would be approved, Toptan said it depended on the assessment of the commission.

October 9, 2006
ANKARA – Turkish Daily News




Parliament to debate Algerian 'genocide'
Parliament is to be busy this week, as it's set to consider a bill lowering the eligibility age to be elected a deputy to 25, the opposition's censure motion against the education minister and a revived bill criminalizing denial of France's "genocide" in Algeria.

The Republican People's Party's (CHP) motion against Education Minister Huseyin Celik, submitted to Parliament on Friday, will be debated tomorrow afternoon.

The CHP's criticisms of the minister include seeking to protect religious orders as well as some school textbooks published by the ministry being full of factual errors, inappropriate language and religious overtones.

Parliament will then hold the first round of voting on a bill to reduce the eligibility age to be elected a deputy from 30 to 25, with the second round on Thursday.

A commission set up to investigate the current situation in the vegetable and fruit production sector will convene on Tuesday as well.

Among the commissions to meet on Wednesday is one set up to probe the threat of cancer posed by industrial waste in Dilovasi, Gebze.

Deputies will also continue debating issues carried over from last week, such as debates on seeds legislation on Wednesday, which aims to increase efficiency and quality in seed production and to restructure the sector as called for in the last European Union progress report.

Under the bill, which has been criticized for opening the way for the sector to be monopolized, plant types, production licenses and genetic resources will be recorded by the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Ministry. The bill also stipulates providing the sector with incentives and harmonizing legislation related to the sector with the EU acquis.

The ninth EU harmonization package will also continue to be debated on Thursday to formulate a brand-new roadmap for this legislative year.

France discusses Armenian 'genocide,' Turkey addresses Algerian one

Among the issues to be debated by Parliament are three once-shelved bills to recognize an Algeria "genocide" committed by France, and criminalizing its denial.

Although it hasn't been officially announced, Justice Commission Chair Koksal Toptan stated over the weekend that three bills set aside by the related commission will be debated on Wednesday in response to the French Parliament debating a bill on the Armenian "genocide" on Thursday.

The commission is ready to discuss the recently amalgamated bills seeking prison terms and fines for those who deny there was an Algerian "genocide."

The New Anatolian / Ankara
09 October 2006




From the columns
There's a language for everyone:Sabah's Fatih Altaylı yesterday offered his views on France's decision to vote on a law criminalizing the denial of an alleged Armenian genocide during the latter years of the Ottoman Empire in Turkey. According to Altaylı, reacting to France's decision in the language it would understand is a wise idea. France is using this problem for the sake of domestic political gain. Turkey has for the first time reacted so harshly on this issue, Altaylı notes, recalling that Parliament is set to discuss a counter-law on “Algerian genocide” at the hand of its former colonizer. Altaylı says: “This is the language they would understand. In international politics, being the good kid is of no use to anyone. The more you go ‘eye for an eye,' the more ‘appreciated' you are. Particularly France has a very good understanding of this language.”

Proving yourself wrong when you are right:Hürriyet's Oktay Ekşi yesterday commented on the possibility of Turkey passing a law criminalizing accepting the validity of Armenian genocide claims. Claiming that Armenians were slaughtered en masse at the hands of Turks would be punishable up to three years under the new law if it is passed. The proposal also stipulates that denying France's genocide of Algerians would also be punished with prison sentences. Ekşi admits that the principle of “reciprocity” is the most influential weapon in international relations. Since the French parliament is set to vote on a proposal criminalizing denying the Armenian genocide, the recent step seems to be plausible. According to Parliament's Justice Commission, the proposal was brought before them with the approval of government. Ekşi says, he has no intention to congratulate the commission or the government. Admitting that France's move is a violation of expression of thought and democratic principles, Ekşi notes that Turkey's criticism of France on this issue has been based on the unlawfulness of the proposal. Ekşi points out that now our Parliament is set to do the same. Although the principle of reciprocity is significant, the legality of its application is foremost, Ekşi maintains. Instead, Turkey should concentrate on solutions such as defending its thesis on a high-budget campaign and applying embargoes on France. Turkey should hold uninterrupted, systematic, and influential campaigns.

With this government…:Cumhuriyet's Cüneyt Arcayürek presented his opinion on the French parliament's decision to vote on a proposal making denying Armenian genocide claims punishable with prison terms. According to Arcayürek, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is being ineffective in taking measures. Recalling that the prime minister talked to French businessmen, Arcayürek implies that he'd better talk to Chirac or Villepin about the issue. The government should give Europe -- which condemns Turkey's application of Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) -- a taste of its own medicine and tell France that it is committing the same crime. We should have placed the issue on an international platform. Arcayürek expresses doubts about the current government's capacity to tackle the increasing problems Turkey has been facing in international politics. Arcayürek says that the government's record so far in relations with the European Union, on the Cyprus problem and its submission to the United States justifies doubt about its capacity to handle international problems.

Article 301 and the ‘no genocide' crime:Milliyet's Firket Bila yesterday looked at the controversial Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) that criminalizes what it refers to as “Turkishness.” The European Union wants that article removed, since a number of journalists and writers have had to face trial based on Article 301. Before starting a discussion about Article 301, Bila says he should take a look at Europe's double standards about freedom of expression and freedom of thought. Following Switzerland, the Netherlands and France are preparing to criminalize the denial of Armenian genocide claims, which is a major violation of freedom of expression. Countries that consider stating views opposing the genocide claim a crime do not have a right to criticize Europe on the freedom of expression. The EU should make efforts to abolish this shameful attitude before applying pressure on Turkey.

Monday, October 9, 2006
www.tdn.com.tr




'Adoption of Genocide Draft will be End of 5th Republic'
To protest the draft bill that will make it a criminal offence to deny the alleged Armenian genocide, Chairman of the Ankara Chamber of Industry Zafer Caglayan will arrive in Paris on Oct. 12.

The Chairman of the Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry requested an appointment on the same day the draft is due for discussion at the French parliament. “I am going there as ‘the first criminal’ under their description. I will openly say I deny the Armenian genocide allegations,” Caglayan said.

Caglayan further commented that EU countries, including France, are hypocrites. He called on the Turkish government, the Turkish nation, and all relevant individuals and institutions to give the response that France and the draft deserve.

Caglayan asserted that adoption of the draft would mean the end of the fifth French republic, and initiate a sixth republic based on intolerance toward freedom of thought and the denial of basic human rights.

Caglayan harshly criticized the French attitude, stating that it is disrespectful and insulting to the Turkish nation to accuse it of committing genocide on the one hand, and to continue benefiting from it via investments and other trade opportunities on the other.

He further noted that the Chamber will send letters to its members and call on them to address the Paris Chamber of Trade and Industry. Caglayan also called on the government to apply visa restrictions to French citizens coming to Turkey.

October 09, 2006
zaman.com




‘I did not say proved genocide took place’
Dutch politician of Turkish origin says she defends the same views as her Labor Party, which does not avoid using the term 'genocide' and urges Turkey to debate the issue open heartedly and confidently

Nebahat Albayrak, a member of the Dutch parliament of Turkish origin and the number two candidate of the Labor Party for next month's elections, claimed over the weekend that she never said she acknowledged a deliberate and proved genocide of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire, contrary to earlier news reports that said she admitted the existence of “genocide.”

“I'm not a politician that will trample my identity. I've always defended the same views everywhere with regard to the ‘genocide',” she was quoted as telling Turkish reporters in Rotterdam.

The two largest Dutch political parties have recently removed the names of ethnic Turkish parliamentary candidates from an electoral list after they refused to acknowledge the alleged genocide. News reports said last week Albayrak “accepted that a genocide took place” amid pressure by the two largest political parties in the Netherlands on the candidates of Turkish origin as to genocide allegations.

Albayrak complained about the press insistently asking her about the existence of “genocide” and claimed news reports in both the Turkish and the Dutch press about her based, to a large extent, on comments.

“I was extremely disturbed by the newspaper headlines in Turkey. I don't speak differently to the Turkish or the Dutch press but tell the same things. But some want to interpret that differently,” she said.

Albayrak said she was not a cowardly politician and stressed the statements she made about the genocide allegations were in parallel to her party's views.

“The Labor Party has never said or admitted that Armenians were subjected to a deliberate and proved genocide. None of the party members made such remarks. The party does not avoid using the term ‘genocide' but says: ‘Do not focus on that term' because not everyone pronouncing that word should be in a suspicious position. We say and defend that Turkey should debate the issue open heartedly and confidently,” she added.

Albayrak also made clear that her party did not support a law proposal put forth by the rightist Christian Union Party, represented with three deputies in the Dutch parliament, which penalizes any denial of the alleged Armenian genocide and stressed her party would oppose the proposal if it appeared on the agenda of parliament.

“That law proposal will not be supported by us because they, on the one side, accuse Turkey of punishing those who acknowledge the genocide. How can they do the same here? If we do this [pass the proposal] it would be a great shame for the Netherlands,” she said.

Dutch foreign minister calls for patience:
Dutch Foreign Minister Bernard Bot called on the Turkish community living in the Netherlands to be patient with regard to genocide allegations that appeared on the agenda of the Dutch politics after three candidates were bumped off the electoral lists for refusing to acknowledge the alleged genocide.

Speaking to reporters at a traditional fast-breaking dinner in a Dutch town near Rotterdam, Bot said dialogue and research that would seriously be carried out by Turkish and Armenian academics could reveal historical truths and added the two sides, Turkey and Armenia, should accept the outcome of that research.

Monday, October 9, 2006
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News




Turkey vows sanctions if French bill adopted
Prime Minister Erdoğan says the adoption of the bill will deal very serious blow to political and economic ties with France; Foreign Minister Gül warns if the bill is legislated, French participation in major economic projects in Turkey will suffer

The Turkish political leadership warned about political and economic repercussions if the French bill penalizing any denial of the alleged genocide of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire was adopted.

“If the bill is passed, French participation in major economic projects in Turkey, including the planned construction of a nuclear plant for which the tender process is expected to soon begin, will suffer,” Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül said.

Gül added that he had “openly” warned his French counterpart Philippe Douste-Blazy of the consequences of passing the bill.

President Ahmet Necdet Sezer also sent a letter to his French counterpart, Jacques Chirac, warning that France would lose Turkey if the French parliament passed the bill.

On Saturday, Erdoğan met with representatives of French companies doing business in Turkey behind closed doors, urging them to lobby French lawmakers to vote down the bill. The military also added its voice to a growing chorus of protests over French plans to make it a crime to deny the alleged genocide, with Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Büyükanıt saying that Turkey would cut military ties with France if the bill was adopted.

In Istanbul, about 500 people took to the streets here yesterday to protest the bill. “France stop! A boycott is coming,” the protestors chanted.

Algeria retaliation:
Parliament's Justice Commission will debate on Wednesday, a day before the French bill is debated in Paris, proposals that foresee penalties for any denial of the killings of Algerians under French colonial rule.

Monday, October 9, 2006
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News

France sacrificing free thought for Armenian votes

The French must see that they will not only lose Turkey, but at the same time they will as well be sacrificing free thought just to appease and get votes of a small Armenian minority in the coming presidential elections

Neither with nationalistic slogans and declaring the issue a taboo nor with imposing economic and cultural sanctions against countries helping out Armenians to rewrite history with political statements and parliamentary resolutions can we overcome the mounting pressure demanding this country to acknowledge the 1915-1917 killings of the Armenian population of this land as a “genocide.


”We can say that the French, Dutch, Danish or other European nations lending support to the Armenian “genocide” claims are nothing but an effort to find a way of forgetting their own “contributions” to the suffering of not only the Armenians but other ethnic communities of the dissolving Ottoman Empire, as well as how they collaborated with Nazi Germany to butcher the Jews, Gypsies and other “unwanted” peoples, or how they mercilessly staged an act of genocide in Algeria and elsewhere as they were forced out of their colonies and in a way to “cleanse the blood on their own hands” by demonstrating how sensitive they are now on the issue of what might have happened to the Armenians in the first quarter of last century.

We may as well try to provide an explanation that Russians were attacking our territory, Armenians were collaborating with the enemy, their forced resettlement had become an absolute necessity for national defense, there was a civil war and perhaps more Turks (and Kurds) than Armenians perished because of the prevailing conditions of the time, as well as from epidemics and such. Still, we cannot say nothing happened to the Ottoman Armenian population and all the claims are just fiction.

I was talking with a survivor of the 1915-17 events in Yerevan in 2001. He was a man in his early 90s. That is he was a young boy at the time all those troubles were being staged on our land. “We fought a war with the Turks. We lost it, they won it. We killed and got killed. Today, we either decide to bury this in history and continue the fight that we lost on the battle field, or look to creating a common future together,” he had said stressing that he hoped to “see” one day before he dies his home city Erzurum once again.

His advice, though very precious for me, unfortunately cannot become reality until the Armenian claims are resolved through a detailed research into the issue by historians and both the Armenians and Turks acknowledge their share in the massive suffering that was lived by our peoples during those years. The suggestion of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, thus, for the creation of a committee of scientists from Turkey, Armenia and other states, which will work under the auspices of the U.N., has to be considered very seriously. The Turkish prime minister has as well declared that Turkey would accept and abide with whatever the outcome of that commission's work would be.

Though “genocide” terminology only became part of international law in 1952 and it cannot be applied retrospectively, the Erdoğan was clear in his declaration that Turkey would accept whatever the conclusion of the commission of historians would be. While this must have been taken by Armenia as a historic opportunity to bring clarification to what indeed happened in the first quarter of the last century and bring an end to this hostility, which indeed has been more harmful to landlocked Armenia than Turkey, unfortunately the Yerevan administration has turned this golden opportunity down with the back of its hand. Why? Because of the support they receive to their unsubstantiated claims from politicians in France, Holland and elsewhere who have been trying to win votes of the local Armenian minorities buy paying lip service to their emotional allegations.

Legislating laws describing the 1915-17 events as “genocide” are nothing but trying to rewrite history with political considerations. It's nothing new, Adolf Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Soviet Union had attempted to do the same thing as well. Rewriting history to serve their political aims did not help either. It will not serve anyone today either. However, what is more dangerous and indeed threatening is the restrictions wanted to be imposed on freedom of expression with the pretext of acting in solidarity with the Armenians. Criminalization of “genocide denial” risking five years in prison and a hefty fine, or forcing candidates to withdraw their candidacy or succumb to the claims cannot and should not be considered as signs of a promising future for Europe that we believe is founded on free thought and reason.

The impact of the cancellation of lucrative gigantic Turkish contracts will perhaps hurt French and Dutch companies. But, will France arrest Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül, or thousands of Turks who might pour into France after the Thursday vote to declare publicly their opposition to criminalization of genocide denial?

The French must see that they will not lose only Turkey, but at the same time they will as well be sacrificing free thought just to appease and get votes of a small Armenian minority in the coming presidential elections.

Monday, October 9, 2006
TDN editorial by Yusuf KANLI
© 2005 Dogan Daily News Inc

Erdogan - French Businessmen in Turkey

'Will you Arrest me if I Reject Armenian Genocide?': Erdoğan

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with French businessmen on Saturday to discuss the so-called Armenian Genocide issue and continued to raise his objections against the “Armenian Genocide” bill in France. Erdogan said that as a third party France had no right to make decisions over a war between two nations in the past, and added: “How can this issue ever be relevant to France? Mind your own business!” .

Erdogan asked what France’s attitude would be if he, or one of his ministers, rejected the alleged Armenian Genocide in France and continued: “Will you arrest us and send us to prison? Do you have the power to do that?”


Erdogan said intimate relations between countries should not be sacrificed for this kind of issue and added: “Turkey is not a tribal country. You cannot conduct these kinds of operations concerning our country. France has made a great mistake.”


The Turkish PM asserted this issue should be discussed by historians, lawyers, art historians and scientists, and added there should be no restrictions to discuss the issue.

Sunday, October 08, 2006
zaman.com




'Adopting Genocide Law to Strike a Big Blow to Turkish-French Relations'

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on representatives of French businessmen in Turkey and asked them to prevent the enactment of the so-called Armenian genocide law in the French Parliament.

The draft law foresees imposing sanctions on those who deny the genocide. Erdogan met with a 30-member French delegation, including the top managers of French companies in Istanbul. The French businessmen’s delegation did not promise they would prevent the enactment of the law, and explained that it would not necessarily be approved in the senate.

Erdogan, however, warned that enacting the genocide law or holding it in the senate would mean the same thing for Turkey.

“Our public will perceive this as France’s hostility towards Turkey. The enactment of this law will strike a big blow on our current political and commercial relations. Our warning should not be neglected, the gravity of the situation should be realized,” said Erdogan.

Turkish-French Commerce Association members said they sent letters to senators and French deputies, while other association members said they started a signature campaign to prevent the enactment of the law.

Erdogan emphasized that Turkey-France relations should be saved from the interference of third parties. In the proposal, denial of the Armenian genocide will be considered a crime, said Erdogan, asking, “You were saying that there was freedom of thought. Where are the Copenhagen political criteria?”

Addressing the delegation members, Erdogan remarked, “Even keeping this issue on the agenda disturbs me greatly. It is ugly to make this issue a tool of domestic politics and election campaigns.

In his speech, Erdogan pointed out the commercial partnerships between France and Turkey, adding that both countries are also members of the European Union and NATO. This current situation may hinder the economic relations between the two countries, said Erdogan as he asked the delegate members to do their best in order to prevent such stalemate.

The prime minister told the delegate members that he met with the French Internal Minister, Nicholas Sarkozy, and he hoped to meet with French President Jacques Chirac. The delegate members spoke after Erdogan and expressed their sensitivity concerning the issue.

Mustafa Abdullahoglu, one of the members of the French group during negotiations, said the bill could pass the Parliament, but not the Senate. Abdullahoglu said there could be boycotts against French products, and added French companies, which have business contracts with Turkey, were trying to prevent the parliament from taking this kind of decision.

Abdullahoglu said previously Turkish people boycotted Italian products, and added the prime minister would not prefer to keep the bill in the Parliament like Damocles’ sword. In France, a bill can only be operant after being accepted by both Senate and Parliament.

French businessmen sent a letter to the French Parliament in the name of Turkish-French Trade Foundation and Chamber of Commerce defending the view that acceptance of the bill would harm relations between Turkey and France. The letter proves in many ways that it would be inappropriate to present the bill to the National Parliament on Oct. 12. . It also emphasized that this kind of a development would not be beneficial for any of the parties and may even result in permanent damage to France’s economic and political interests.

It states that it is not the business of French Parliament to write the history of an allied country.

If the French Parliament approved the bill and becomes operant, denying the so-called Armenian Genocide will be a crime. If someone voices this idea s/he could be sentenced to one year in jail and fined 45,000 euros.

Total annual trade volume between France and Turkey is about $10 billion. According to 2005 statistics, the export volume of France to Turkey was $5.9 billion and the import volume was $3.8 billion.

About 300 French companies have been operating in Turkey with around 40,000 workers. Turkey is France’s 5th biggest business partner among non-EU countries.

By Ibrahim Balta, Istanbul
October 08, 2006
zaman.com





Omer Sabanci: We Condemn France

While the controversial French bill due for discussion at the French parliament on Oct. 12 has been strongly criticized by Turkey, new reactions came from the business world.

The Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen Association (TUSIAD) President Omer Sabanci said both the bill and the debate style related to the so-called genocide claims in France counter the Europeanism soul.

Sabanci cautioned that the bill damages efforts of dialogue.

Sabanci’s press release on the issue was handed out during the meeting of Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan with French companies’ directors in Istanbul.

Rejecting the idea that history is written through policy and judged due to political reasons and mechanisms, Sabanci said, “We need to seek the facts.”

Sabancı stated that the Diaspora favors an attitude that hinders dialogue and that parliamentarians, who lack information concerning the issue, defame a nation within Europeanism understanding.
“I appeal to the French politicians once more: Don`t you see that you are jeopardizing all the political, economic and social relations that France has had with Turkey for centuries for the sake of your own political interests? This mood is improper for France. I need to say that we, as the Turkish business world, are embarrassed and sad, and we condemn the French politicians” Sabanci said.

By Ibrahim Balta, Istanbul
October 08, 2006
zaman.com



Letter to Chirac . . .France may lose Turkey

France may lose Turkey if it adopts ‘genocide’ bill, Ankara warns
Tan: The Armenian issue has poisoned bilateral ties in the past, but the bill will inflict irreparable damage to our relationship

The Turkish capital warned Paris Friday that political and economic ties between them will suffer if the French Parliament approves a highly contentious bill that penalizes any denial of an Armenian “genocide” at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.

“The Armenian issue has poisoned bilateral ties in the past, but the bill will inflict irreparable damage to our relationship,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Namik Tan told reporters during a regular press briefing.

The spokesman, with clear remarks, warned the move could jeopardize “investments, the fruit of years of work, and France will -- so to speak -- lose Turkey.”

The French National Assembly's decision for the vote, scheduled for Oct. 12, came at the request of the main opposition Socialist Party, the bill's architect.

Appealing to the assembly to block the bill, Tan argued that adoption of the bill would mean the elimination of freedom of expression in France. “Our expectation is that France will avoid taking the wrong step.”

Though the conservative majority in the French assembly opposes the bill, Turkey fears many opponents will not vote against it for fear of upsetting France's 400,000-strong Armenian Diaspora ahead of elections next year.

Tan said Turkey, too, faces presidential and parliamentary elections in 2007.

“The people of Turkey will perceive this development as a hostile attitude on the part of France,” he said. “This draft will deliver a heavy blow to bilateral relations and to the momentum previously achieved.”

Letter to Chirac:
President Ahmet Necdet Sezer sent a letter this week to his French counterpart, Jacques Chirac, on the issue and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will discuss the problem Saturday with French businessmen in Istanbul, Tan said.

A delegation of Turkish lawmakers also warned of harm to French trade during a visit to Paris earlier this week. They said Ankara might expel an estimated 70,000 Armenians working illegally in Turkey if the French law passes.

The Armenian bill was first brought to the French assembly in May, but the vote was postponed to October after filibustering by the ruling party. Turkey had at the time threatened trade sanctions against France and briefly summoned its ambassador in Paris back for consultations.

France, which has already passed a law recognizing the 1915 massacre as genocide, had $5.9 billion of exports to Turkey last year, French Trade Ministry data show.

Turkey is stinging from comments by Chirac last weekend in the Armenian capital Yerevan that Ankara must recognize the Armenian killings as genocide before joining the European Union.

Ankara says it is ironic that France is preparing to punish those who express a particular view of history at a time when Turkey is under heavy EU pressure to change some of its own laws, which are viewed as restricting freedom of expression.

Last week, Ankara reacted angrily to news that two Dutch political parties had dropped three election candidates, all of Turkish origin, for denying the alleged Armenian genocide.

The Netherlands, like the European Parliament and some other countries, has urged Turkey to recognize the genocide claims.

October 7, 2006
© 2005 Dogan Daily News Inc.




France will Lose Turkey if Genocide Law Adopted
The Turkish Foreign Ministry warned Paris that bilateral relations would suffer if the French parliament approves a law making it a punishable offence to deny the Armenian genocide.

Namik Tan, a foreign ministry spokesman, told French officials that France would, so to speak, lose Turkey.

"The Armenian issue has poisoned bilateral ties in the past, but the bill will inflict irreparable damage on our relationship, The Turkish public opinion would perceive the approval of the bill as a hostile act. Adoption of the bill would mean the elimination of freedom of expression in France,” said Tan.

There’s some considerable volume of business between Turkey and France, Tan noted adding that French parliament’s recognition of the draft bill would imperil the outcome of the work for many years to improve the situation between the two countries.

There’re some initiatives on the part of Turkey to prevent a possible parliamentary recognition of the draft bill, said Tan, and detailed those initiatives as follows:

Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer wrote to his French counterpart Jacques Chirac on 4 Sept. 2006.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is due to have talks with French businessmen in Turkey.

Erdogan will have a telephone conversation with French Prime Minister Philippe Douste Blazy.

A commission of foreign affairs of the Turkish parliament was in France to voice their concerns.

The Turkish embassy in Paris has held negotiations with French officials.

While the bill will most likely pass parliamentary approval ahead of France’s parliamentary elections, French businessmen with investment plans in Turkey are at unease.

Debate on the bill, which was originally tabled in May, followed stern warnings from Ankara on the repercussions for bilateral and economic relations.

By Bahtiyar Kucuk, Ankara
October 07, 2006
zaman.com




Ankara warns Paris not to risk its friendship
Turkey’s people will perceive the adoption of controversial ‘genocide’ bill as a hostile attitude on the part of France, the Foreign Ministry says, as the prime minister will today discuss the problem with French businessmen in Istanbul

Turkey has reminded France of the importance it attributes to bilateral political and economic ties between the two countries as well as of the sensitivity of Turkey's people regarding a highly contentious bill that penalizes any denial of an Armenian “genocide” at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.

“The Armenian issue has poisoned bilateral ties in the past, but the bill will inflict irreparable damage to our relationship,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Namık Tan said on Friday, referring to the vote at the French National Assembly scheduled for Oct. 12 at the request of the main opposition Socialist Party, the bill's architect.

The spokesman clearly warned that the move could jeopardize “investment, the fruit of years of work, and France will -- so to speak -- lose Turkey.”

President Ahmet Necdet Sezer sent a letter this week to his French counterpart, Jacques Chirac, on the issue and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will discuss the problem on Saturday with French businessmen in Istanbul, Tan said.

Though the conservative majority in the French Assembly opposes the bill, Turkey fears many opponents will not vote against it for fear of upsetting France's 400,000-strong Armenian diaspora ahead of elections next year.

“The Armenian lobby should abandon backstage games and come up with concrete arguments supported by historical facts,” diplomatic sources earlier said, referring to Ankara's proposal last year to establish a joint committee of Turkish and Armenian experts to study allegations of an Armenian genocide in the final days of the Ottoman Empire.

October 7, 2006
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News

Turk Mps Warn France Against Armenia Genocide Law

Turkish lawmakers have warned that French trade might be hurt and illegal Armenian immigrants expelled from Turkey if France's parliament passes a law punishing anyone denying the Armenian genocide of 1915. Ankara recalled its ambassador to France in May after opposition Socialists presented the bill in parliament, where it is due to be debated on Oct. 12.

Turkey denies charges that Ottoman Turks committed a systematic genocide against Armenians during World War One, saying large numbers of both Christian Armenians and Muslim Turks perished in a partisan conflict raging at that time.

"If this bill is passed, it will damage the interests not only of France, but also of Armenia," Sukru Elekdag, a lawmaker in Turkey's main opposition party, the Republican People's Party (CHP), told reporters at Turkey's embassy in Paris on Wednesday.

While the conservative majority in France's parliament opposes the bill, the Turkish deputies said they believed many opponents would not vote against it for fear of upsetting the 400,000 strong Armenian Diaspora in France ahead of elections next year.

Elekdag was part of a delegation of lawmakers from both the ruling majority and the opposition who were in Paris to meet their French counterparts and lobby against the bill. "There are 70,000 Armenians today who are in Turkey illegally and who are working ... All these people will be expelled (if the bill is passed)," he said, adding the bill would "poison relations between Turkey and France".

Mehmet Dulger, head of the Turkish parliament's foreign affairs committee, agreed that the expulsion of illegal Armenian immigrants was a possibility. "It is something to be considered," he said. "That's not all. France has interests that are very important (in) Turkey like nuclear power-plant projects, helicopter projects and other kinds of projects which will be slowed down because we feel that this law is hostile."

France, which has already passed a law recognizing the 1915 massacre as genocide, had 4.66 billion euros ($5.9 billion) of exports to Turkey last year, according to Trade Ministry data.

French President Jacques Chirac said during a trip to Armenia last weekend that Turkey needed to recognize the killings as genocide if it wanted to join the European Union. There is widespread skepticism in France over Turkey's push to join the European Union and Chirac has said the French should be able to hold a referendum to decide on further enlargement.

Meanwhile, Turkish groups in the Netherlands expressed concern Thursday that voters of Turkish origin will boycott elections after candidates for parliament were bumped off the electoral lists after refusing to acknowledge the Armenian genocide. Last week the Netherlands' two biggest political parties, the ruling Christian Democrat CDA and the opposition PvdA labor party, scrapped three prospective MP's of Turkish origin from their list of candidates for the November 22 elections because they would not recognize the World War I massacre of Armenians as a genocide.

"We have heard from every side that voters of Turkish origin are disappointed and do not understand, and we fear this could have consequences for the participation of the Turkish community in Dutch politics," said Ahmet Azdural of IOT, an umbrella group representing some 300 local Turkish organizations in the Netherlands.

"We have called on all organizations and bodies together, with national and local politicians of Turkish origin, to meet Sunday in Capelle aan den IJssel (near Rotterdam) to agree on a course of action," Azdural told AFP.

There are 235,000 voters of Turkish origin in the Netherlands, corresponding in terms of population to some three seats in the 150 seat parliament. Statistically the Turkish community in the Netherlands votes in higher numbers than other immigrant communities and they traditionally favor the PvdA labor party.

In a related development, the editor of a Turkish-Armenian magazine was Wednesday awarded the Norwegian Bjornson prize, worth 100,000 kroner ($15,200), for highlighting massacres of the Armenian minority by Ottoman Turks in 1915. Agos' editor Hrant Dink has frequently written on the subject that continues to generate controversy in Turkey today, and has had frequent run-ins with Turkish authorities.

The prize was to be handed out at a November 24 ceremony in the Norwegian west coast city Molde, the Norwegian news agency NTB reported. The prize is awarded by the Bjornson Academy, established in 2003 to protect freedom of expression. Members include researchers from Norway and other countries as well as authors, journalists and politicians including two former Norwegian prime ministers, Kare Willoch and Kjell Magne Bondevik.

Academy president Knut Odegard said the November 24 seminar would focus on Armenians.

The prize was named after Norwegian poet, author and dramatist Bjornstjerne Bjornson (1832-1910). Previous winners were Vivian Fouad and Samir Morcos from Egypt for their efforts to promote ties between Muslims and Christians, and Esma Redzepova from Macedonia who has championed the rights of the Roma people.

06 October 2006
Armenia Liberty

Ankara reminds Chirac of his past inconsistency

As the EU’s Rehn lends support to last year’s Turkish proposal of a joint committee of Turkish and Armenian historians, Ankara notes Chirac’s inconsistent attitude when the issue concerned his country’s colonial past

While expressing sadness over French President Jacques Chirac's recent remarks supporting allegations of an Armenian genocide, Turkey reminded the French president of his inconsistent attitude after assuming a different attitude last year over a controversial French law on the teaching of France's colonial past.

“It is not possible to accept the French president's depiction of incidents -- that were experienced in 1915 under the conditions of World War I and about which many historians bring up extremely different interpretations to the Armenian allegations -- as ‘genocide',” the Foreign ministry said yesterday in a written statement, referring to Chirac's remarks, voiced over the weekend during a visit to Armenia.

Chirac declared that Ankara should recognize the killings of Anatolian Armenians, committed under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, as genocide if it wants to join the European Union.

“However, President Chirac -- last year, when certain of his country's actions during its colonial period appeared on the international agenda -- defended the view that ‘the research of historical cases should be left to historians',” the ministry said, referring to last year's debates concerning a controversial French law on the teaching of France's colonial past.

At the time, Chirac said that France should change the regulations that encourage the positive portrayal of its colonial past in textbooks. “We can be proud of our history, marked by so much success, greatness and light. But it is also because you are at ease with your history that you are able to see its darker sides and its ordeals,” he said then.

Reiterating Ankara's offer last year of the establishment of a joint committee of Turkish and Armenian experts to study the genocide allegations, the ministry said Chirac would do better to support this proposal during his visit to Armenia.

“Remarks by Chirac -- who made statements lacking a historical basis and who led to an impression that [recognition of] Armenian allegations is one of the European Union accession criteria although it is known that it is not so -- have led to a fair reaction from the Turkish people,” the statement concluded.

France is the only government among EU members that has endorsed a decision recognizing allegations of genocide against the Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.

Rehn makes it clear: No ‘genocide' condition:
On the same day, EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn, currently on a visit to Turkey, said that Turkey's recognition of the “genocide” of the Anatolian Armenians is not a condition for its membership of the EU.

“The EU's view on the matter is that the recognition of the Armenian genocide is not a condition of accession to the EU,” Rehn told reporters.

Rehn said the EU encouraged “an open and rational debate” on the killings, which Turks have only recently begun to openly discuss. “Only finding the historical truth in the spirit of dialogue can bring a lasting reconciliation [between Turkey and Armenia]”, Rehn said.

He also backed the Turkish proposal to set up a joint committee of Turkish and Armenian historians to study the killings, “because it's a much better way of dealing with this very sensitive historical issue than sending ultimatums.”

Armenians claim that up to 1.5 million of their kin were slaughtered in orchestrated killings between 1915 and 1917 and want the killings to be internationally recognized as genocide.

Turkey argues that 300,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks died in civil strife when Armenians took up arms for independence in eastern Anatolia and sided with the Russian troops invading the crumbling Ottoman Empire, the predecessor of modern Turkey.

October 4, 2006
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News

Europe to Chirac: "Genocide" Recognition not a Pre-condition / Swiss gov't backs Erdogan

Remarks made by the French President Jacques Chirac implying that Turkey needs to recognize the alleged Armenian genocide to become an EU member were not welcomed in Europe. The EU Commission declared that recognition of the alleged genocide was not a pre-condition for full membership.

The Council of Europe criticized Chirac, as Chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Rene van der Linden said: “It is not new that Jacques Chirac has made such statements.

The game has already started. You cannot change the rules of the game while it is on. Like other European states, France signed a document to start discussions on Turkey's EU membership. Jacques Chirac has made a mere political statement. I do not think this position is right.” Linden also noted that those who favor more reforms in Turkey should be supported.

The EU Commission, despite pressure from the Armenian lobby, refused to define the 1915 incidents as genocide. The Commission’s 2005 report cited the incidents as “the tragic events of 1915.”

In response to the remarks Chirac made in Yerevan, spokesperson the EU Commissioner, Krisztina Nagy said that genocide recognition was not a criterion set for full membership, and also stressed that the EU attached great importance to the normalization of bilateral relations between the EU and Turkey.

Recalling that compromise was a fundamental EU value, Nagy further noted that Turkey was expected to address the issue within the framework of an open and free public discussion.

The Commission refuses to recognize the 1915 incidents as genocide. Instead, in the annual report it referred to the incidents as tragic events.

The Council of Europe also criticized Chirac, who asserted that Turkey should recognize the alleged Armenian genocide to qualify for EU membership. Chairman of PACE, Rene van der Linden, in reference to Chirac’s remarks, said because the membership requirements were set beforehand, it was not right to create new conditions.

The Chairman, who found Chirac’s statements “political,” stressed that politicians should be discreet and fulfill their promises and commitments.

In a statement he made in Yerevan on Saturday, French President Jacques Chirac for the first time asserted that Turkey should recognize the alleged Armenian genocide to become an EU member. He recalled that France had recognized the alleged genocide in 2001.

Meanwhile, the French paper, Le Figaro, opined that Chirac’s statements were more beneficial and profitable for France than having adopted a bill that penalizes the denial of the alleged Armenian genocide.

Le Figaro headlined Chirac’s statement and the paper’s editorial also covered the story. The paper also commented that an analogy between the alleged Armenian genocide and the Nazi Holocaust would cause serious criticisms, and noted that Jews in particular would not welcome such a comparison.

Chirac Criterion?
Often silent regarding the atrocities committed by the French troops in Algeria, Chirac, when suggesting that Turkey should accept the Armenian allegations for EU membership, stated that countries earn more respect when they admit their own mistakes and dramas.

October 03, 2006
zaman.com




Swiss gov't backs Erdoğan's proposal to Armenia

Blocher says proposed Turkish-Armenian committee should include independent international experts as well

The Swiss government backs Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's proposal to establish a joint Turkish-Armenian committee of scholars to investigate what happened to Armenians in the final days of the Ottoman Empire, Swiss Minister of Justice Christoph Blocher said.

“Regarding the Armenian question, the positions of our two governments are in fact quite similar: The Swiss Federal Council welcomes the proposal of Prime Minister Erdoğan to establish a joint commission of Turkish and Armenian historians to shed light on the tragic events in the past,” Blocher told the Turkish Daily News.

He also advised that the proposed Turkish-Armenian commission include independent and international experts.

Erdoğan proposed the establishment of a committee of Turkish and Armenian historians to investigate events of the last century, but Armenia has so far failed to respond favorably. Members of the European Parliament voted last week on a report urging Turkey to recognize the alleged genocide. A proposal to make recognition of the alleged genocide a condition for its membership in the European Union was taken out in the final version of the report.

Turkey and Switzerland had disagreements in the past over the allegations that 1.5 million Armenians were victims of genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Empire during World War I, charges that Turkey categorically rejects.

Micheline Calmy-Rey, the Swiss foreign minister, had been scheduled to travel to Turkey in 2003, but Turkey withdrew its invitation after the parliament of a western Swiss canton recognized the killings of Armenians in Turkey as genocide. Calmy-Rey eventually visited in March 2005.

A Turkish politician, Workers' Party (İP) leader Doğu Perinçek, was detained in July 2005 on suspicion of violating Swiss anti-racism laws by denying the allegations of Armenian genocide.

In May 2005 an inquiry was opened in May into Yusuf Halaçoğlu, head of the Turkish Historical Society (TTK), for public remarks in Switzerland denying the so-called genocide.

“Despite longstanding relations, it is only normal that disagreements occur from time to time,” Blocher said. “In such a case it is important to maintain the dialogue.”

Blocher said preliminary investigations have been conducted in the Perinçek and Halaçoğlu cases and that so far no one has been sentenced. He stated that an article criminalizing “severe trivialization or the justification of genocide or other crimes against humanity” has been introduced recently and that the interpretation of the article has not yet been fully developed.

The Swiss minister underlined the principle of the independence of the judiciary, saying political interference in the judicial proceedings of the two cases was out of the question.

FATMA DEMİRELLİ
October 4, 2006
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News

Chirac's Genocide Remarks Intimidate French Firms

Reactions to French President Jacques Chirac, who implied during his Yerevan visit that Turkey should recognize the alleged Armenian genocide to become an EU member, are growing.

French firms are now concerned that their investments in Turkey would be negatively affected by the remarks. The draft law that would penalize those who deny the alleged genocide has also deepened such concerns. French paper Le Monde, drawing attention to the financial difficulties of the French companies interested in Turkish bids, stressed that the remarks could cause a substantial loss totaling billions of dollars. A political advisor of Chirac stated that it has become apparent the president needs to clarify his remarks.

Speaking to Le Monde, Chirac’s advisor noted that there was no change in the president’s supportive position regarding Turkey’s EU membership. The advisor, who stressed that Chirac’s remarks were political, not legal, noted that it is now imperative for Chirac to make an explanation to Turkey concerning his statements in Yerevan.

The draft bill that stipulates the punishment of those who deny the alleged genocide will be discussed in the plenary of the French parliament on Oct. 12. French firms are highly concerned that the draft will be adopted because of the upcoming elections. Before the parliamentary discussions held to review the draft bill in May, the foreign trade ministry had sent a note to the deputies referring to the economic risks for France in case of its adoption. The note published by Le Monde stressed that the firms interested in Turkish bids would have to face billions of dollars loss if the bill were adopted. The French firms interested in Turkish bids include large firms such as AREVA, Eurocopter, Alstom and Credit Agricole.

In a statement he made to Le Monde, French politician of Armenian origin, Patrick Devedjian, recalling that Chirac has made a clear point for the first time, cited his remarks as an historical turning point. Devedjian noted that Chirac, by making the remarks, transformed the 2001 genocide law, which is of legal character, into a political action. Drawing attention to the analogy Chirac made between the Holocaust and the alleged genocide, he further noted that Chirac is the first leader who made a connection between the Jewish genocide and the alleged Armenian genocide.

By Ali Ihsan Aydin, Paris
October 04, 2006
zaman.com


The author Elif Şafak says: "Freedom of expression is silenced"

The summary of Elif Şafak's article which will be published in Le Monde, the French newspaper. .

Regarding Article 301 of TCK (Turkish Criminal Code), Elif Şafak says: "Article 301 of the TCK (Turkish Criminal Code), is used for opening action against journalists, editors, publishers, authors and even those with critical opinions up to now. My action was only a new one among these actions. Unless this article is modified, there will be lots of actions taken in Turkey; especially regarding the issues like the Armenian genocide which are considered to be taboo. However, now, while the French Parliament is voting on the Armenian genocide bill, I am worried if such actions will take place in France too."

Sabah




Eyes on French deputies for test on free speech
The French National Assembly is likely to vote today on a bill that the EU and Turkey have said would restrict freedom of speech on a historically contested issue. Approval may deal a blow to ties with France

Lawmakers in the French National Assembly are to take up a highly controversial bill that criminalizes denial of an alleged genocide of Armenians after Turkey, as well as the European Union, warned that passage of such legislation would mean a concession on freedom of speech in one of the EU's founding countries.

Deputies are first expected to have a debate session, possibly followed by a preliminary vote on whether to hold a vote on the bill. Parliamentarians are divided but are still expected to back the proposed legislation, which foresees up to one year in prison and 45,000 euros in fines for denying charges that Armenians were subject to genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.

Ankara is pessimistic but yesterday was still holding out hope that France will deal with the matter with “common sense.”

“Such a thing should not even be thought of in a country where civilization and free thought have flourished,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Namık Tan said.

Olli Rehn, the EU commissioner for enlargement, has already warned that passage of the bill may mean that people could “end up in prison in an EU member state” for expressing their views.

If the bill is passed, France risks losing an important economic partner in Turkey and being left out of major projects ranging from the defense sector to energy.

In the Turkish Parliament, lawmakers dropped a “retaliation” proposal by sending a bill that foresees recognition of French atrocities in Algeria as genocide and criminalizing its denial to a sub-commission for further assessment.

October 12, 2006
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News




Decision day in French parliament

Lawmakers are divided over the infamous bill, but they are still expected to vote in its favor, dealing a serious blow to ties with Turkey

The French National Assembly is to debate and possibly vote today on a highly controversial proposal criminalizing denial of an alleged genocide of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.

Approval of the bill -- widely expected to be the outcome of the vote despite divisions among parliamentarians -- may mean a new era in Turkish-French relations bringing severe deterioration in political and economic ties.

“We believe the French will take care of this matter with common sense,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Namık Tan said yesterday at a press conference. “Such a thing should not even be thought of in a country where civilization and free thought have flourished.”

French parliamentarians are under pressure not only from Turkey but also from the European Union, which has warned that passage of the bill may mean that people could “end up in prison in an EU member state” for expressing their views. The French government has also distanced itself from the bill, with the French Foreign Ministry describing the proposed legislation as “unnecessary” and saying that it's not binding on government.

Tan welcomed the French government's opposition to the bill but said “more effective efforts” were needed to completely remove it from the agenda.

Turkish officials have made it clear that political contacts with France will be reduced to a minimum, possibly including cancellation of visits. France also risks losing an important economic partner in Turkey and being left out of major projects ranging from the defense sector to energy.

Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül has warned that French companies should expect to be barred from major tenders and several civic groups have threatened to boycott French goods if the bill is approved.

This would be a repetition of what happened in 2001, when France officially recognized the alleged genocide, but French businessmen here feel the repercussions of the new bill could be more severe.

“In 2001, Turkey went through a huge economic crisis and the boycott of French goods was forgotten. But I do not think it will be the same this time round,” Raphael Esposito, director of the French-Turkish Chamber of Commerce, was quoted as saying by the Agence France-Presse. “The wound would be deeper and will not heal as quickly.”

Lengthy process:
The bill, presented by the opposition Socialists in the French National Assembly, foresees one year in prison and a 45,000-euro fine for denying the alleged genocide.

The ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) is divided over the bill and the party, which controls 353 seats in the 577-member National Assembly, has made no binding decision pressing its lawmakers to vote in favor or against the bill.

A considerable number of lawmakers from the UMP are expected to vote in favor of the bill. Opposition on the part of another group of UMP lawmakers may not be helpful since they are expected to abstain from the vote in order not to alienate Armenian-origin voters ahead of next year's elections.

If they show up, there is still the possibility that the result of the vote would be “no.” A preliminary vote on whether or not to vote on the bill may take place after debates, private NTV television reported yesterday.

If the bill passes through the National Assembly, it will have to be approved by the Senate and the president before it becomes law in what is largely expected to be a lengthy process. Observers say the government may take its time in taking the bill to the Senate floor.

UMP's Armenian-origin deputy Patrik Devecian presented a proposal ahead of the vote, saying that research carried out by scientists and historians should be exempt from the bill.

In the European Parliament, Joost Lagendijk, a Dutch member of the Greens, told Internet news portal EUobserver that EU efforts to promote free speech in Turkey are being made “less credible” by the French legislation and warned the EU was “rapidly developing a perception problem in Turkey.”

Lagendijk also said he himself was not sure there was a real “genocide” against the Armenians, saying that “serious historians have questioned” whether “there was a deliberate campaign aimed at eradicating the Armenian people, causing 1.5 million victims.”

October 12, 2006
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News




Paris court delays ruling on Armenian complaint:
The Paris Court of Appeals, which was expected on Wednesday to announce its decision whether a complaint filed by an Armenian group against Turkish Consul General Aydın Sezgin is admissible, postponed the announcement until Oct. 25, the Anatolia news agency reported. The court said that the postponement was because of “problems concerning computers.”

The Armenian group, the Comité de Défense de la Cause Arménienne (CDCA), is accusing the consul general in Paris of spreading “denial propaganda” concerning an alleged Armenian genocide during World War I at the hands of the Ottoman Empire and demanding the removal of part of the Turkish Consulate General's Web site.

Michel Jeol, Sezgin's lawyer, told Anatolia that he didn't believe that the postponement was related to the fact that a bill penalizing any denial of the alleged Armenian genocide at the hands of the late Ottoman Empire was scheduled to be voted at the French National Assembly on Thursday [today]. Jeol noted that the Paris Court of Appeals was postponing announcement of decisions time to time, thus Wednesday's postponement was a “normal” one.

Turkish Daily News
October 12, 2006




We should not try to salvage the day
Turkey, for a change, must concentrate its efforts on diplomacy and on building pressure on Armenia to agree to the proposal of Erdoğan with a pledge that it will respect the outcome of the works of a joint history commission that will work under UN auspices

We love to live the present; we don't bother with the past and very seldom think about what the future might have in store for us. This peculiarity of our people is an asset for our politicians, who have a habit of promising everything but the moon to people during election campaigns, confident that nobody will remember similar extravagant promises made during previous election campaigns and knowing that no one will ask tomorrow for the delivery of those exaggerated “words of honor.”

Is it much different for our media or our businessmen? Unfortunately, the answer is no. We just try to live and salvage the day. “Let's leave this problem behind; God willing we will handle the rest later” is a cliché valid for all walks of life in our society. And, unfortunately, our state is no different.

Whereas for an individual, social group or nation to function properly and be healthy, it must remember its own history and draw lessons from its own past experiences to solve today's problems and plan for the future.

Shall we list some of our problems? Extravagance in government offices, unemployment, favoritism, nepotism, corruption, separatism, radicalism, the poor image of our country abroad, foreign domination of our economy and such. These are today's problems. They were yesterday's problems as well. They were the problems of this nation 100 years ago also. If we insist on providing provisional resolution to our problems rather than addressing the crux of the matter and the root causes, these will more or less continue to be the problems of this nation and country 100 years down the line.

The Kurdish problem of this country is a fact. We may bury our heads in the sand like an ostrich and believe that since we don't see it others won't see it, either. But it is there, and unless we deal with it in a manner that is acceptable to the ethnic Kurdish element of our nation, it will remain a challenge to our national security and integrity. It cannot be resolved through a policy of denial nor by use of force alone. We need to address the root causes of the problem, and, with an inclusive understanding compatible with the notion of democracy, try to bring about a resolution that will not sacrifice the territorial and national integrity of our country.

The Armenian problem was long denied by our state and politicians. It was a taboo issue and our academics and historians avoided researching the Armenian claims. The world, reading mostly Armenian and pro-Armenian publications on the issue, has developed a rather negative view of Turkey over the issue. Scores of countries have acknowledged the Armenian killings in 1915-1917 period as “genocide” and have begun pressuring Turkey “to face the realities of its own history.”

Over the years, from an uncompromising “there has not been any Armenian massacre” stance, we have come to a point where we acknowledge that there was a civil war and that both the Armenians and the Turks suffered much during the last years of the Ottoman Empire. Not the entire state apparatus but many senior bureaucrats have even started to say that our Armenian population suffered badly during those years because of the prevailing conditions of war (with Russia), a subsequent forced resettlement decision and a rampant epidemic. What might be next, we have no idea.

Our prime minister has made a revolutionary proposal to Armenia and suggested the creation of a commission of historians made up of members from Turkey and Armenia as well as from third countries to work under the auspices of the United Nations and bring clarification on what indeed happened during those years. He, furthermore, declared that irrespective of the result, Turkey would respect the outcome of the work of the commission.

Now, we may somehow manage to prevent France from criminalizing “genocide” denial. The issue may not get Senate support, or perhaps the French president may not sign it into law. Perhaps the law will be annulled by the French constitutional court on grounds that it seriously curtails freedom of speech. Whatever happens with this criminalization of “genocide” denial by some French politicians, Turkish-French relations have suffered a serious blow and it will take ages to restore confidence between the two countries.

Is that all? Tomorrow other European and, perhaps, U.S. legislatures may take up similar bills. Do we have the luxury of becoming disgruntled with all and turning inwards?

Turkey, for a change, must concentrate its efforts on diplomacy and on building pressure on Armenia to agree to Erdoğan's proposal with a pledge that it will respect the findings of the commission.

Rather than palliative moves that will save the day, we must try to bring an end to this problem in full awareness that however bitter the result might be for us, it will be far better than facing such tensions every day.

October 12, 2006
TDN editorial by Yusuf KANLI




Reason, compassion and empathy is what is needed here

Respectable voices in Europe are speaking out against the attempt by the French parliament to penalize denial of the Armenian genocide. These voices include French historians and former politicians who understand what this attempt represents in terms of freedom of speech as well as academic freedom.

Respectable voices in Europe are speaking out against the attempt by the French parliament to penalize denial of the Armenian genocide. These voices include French historians and former politicians who understand what this attempt represents in terms of freedom of speech as well as academic freedom.

I notice that more and more Europeans are veering towards the opinion that those who are moving this motion in France are engaged in nothing but crass politicking. The explanations here range from trying to put nails on Turkey's EU path, to currying favor with pro-Armenian voters given that key elections are on the way in that country.

Put another way, there is a growing recognition that the argument here is not a moral one but a calculated one aimed at securing political gains. If it was moral, then, rather than going in the direction that they are, the deputies who support this bill should have increased pressure on Turkey to abolish or amend all the laws that restrict freedom of expression and academic freedom.

If the argument was a moral one, then those deputies would have also recognized that the shroud is gradually lifting off the Armenian issue in Turkey, where you can even go to a bookshop and buy Arnold Toynbee and Lord Bryce's famous, but questionable, “Blue Book” on the events of 1915.

The French parliament is now set to stop this positive trend given that Turkey will turn inwards again on this topic and prevent the shroud from being lifted any further. Given this overall picture it is evident that even those who support this bill are in a quandary.

Patrick Devedjian, a French deputy of Armenian origin, demonstrated this earlier this week when he suggested that the bill proposing to punish those denying that an Armenian genocide happened should exempt historians.

This approach represents a recognition of the fact that those supporting this bill are walking on thin ice in terms of the freedom of expression, a value supposedly cherished in Europe, and particularly in “Voltaire's France.”

That such a suggestion is untenable goes without saying, of course. This is an “all or nothing” situation. You either pass this bill or you shelve it. There is no other option. Otherwise it would be akin to saying, “I am not really pregnant, only a little so.”

Everyone has their opinions as to why all this is happening. Here is mine:

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's suggestion that an independent commission of Turkish and Armenian historians be formed to study the events of 1915 has caused panic among Armenian activists, and especially the right wing Dashnaks, the equivalent of our MHP. The fact that this commission can also include historians from third countries -- according to Ankara -- has merely amplified the panic.

Aided by Turkey's misguided policy of total denial to date, these activists have managed to steer international public opinion in the direction they want. Even people who have not read one book on the subject have been convinced, on the basis of what they have been told systematically, that what transpired in 1915 was nothing but genocide.

Now, however, if you have the two sides openly discussing those events, the Turkish side of the story will get the chance to be heard. Especially if the exercise involves objective historians who recognize that a great tragedy occurred back then, but disagree about the notion of a genocide, given that this is a well defined legal term.

Put another way, the fear is that the social, regional and international dynamics that led to this episode, as World War I continued in the background, will come out, thus showing that there is a “context” to the events of 1915. I, for my part, have been accused by more than one Armenian for “contextualizing the genocide and trying to undermine its importance in this way.”

Unfortunately for them, however, any objective academic approach to history has to “contextualize” the matter in hand out of necessity, seeing as nothing happens in a void.

Such “contextualization,” in turn, runs the risk of clouding the genocide claim, especially given that there are well known historians, not the least of which is Bernard Lewis, who disputes the genocide argument, while recognizing the brutal massacres perpetrated against Armenians in the charged atmosphere of the day.

This is of course close to the Turkish argument which says, “There was no genocide, but mutual massacres in a time of civil war,” and if accepted runs the risk of killing the political agenda of the Armenians against Turkey, given that this agenda is built on the legal recognition of the genocide.

The problem here is that no court of law has actually recognized this genocide, in the way that the Nuremberg trials recognized the Holocaust for example. Armenian activists are now trying to fill this gap by means of legislation arbitrarily passed in various parliaments around the world that says the genocide happened. This, however, amounts to “legislating history,” a fact that has dire consequences for Europe as well.

It can also be argued, here, from an obverse perspective, that Armenian activists are perhaps nearing the end in terms of their gambit, since there is a good chance -- as France's former Culture Minister Jack Lang, a jurist by training, has said -- that the said bill, if accepted, will be overturned by the Constitutional Court on the grounds that it violates the freedom of expression.

There is of course the fact that France can be taken to the European Court of Human Rights by Turkey on the same grounds. In the meantime, there are suggestions that Paris can also be taken to the International Court of Justice in The Hague on the grounds that it is vilifying Turkey on the basis of a charge that has not been proved in any court of law.

It is clear that Armenian activists would not want to see these steps to be taken. In this sense the Armenians, who have been betrayed so many times in history by their “friends,” not the least of which were the French of course, could face “defeat” yet again as a result of all this.

To cut a long story short, this is not the way to go ahead if what is sincerely desired is a rapprochement between Turks and Armenians. All France is doing, whether wittingly or unwittingly, is to ensure that such a rapprochement is delayed and postponed to some future and unknown date.

In the meantime France is also providing grist to the mill of right wing circles in Turkey who want nothing more than a severance of ties with “perfidious Europe.” Some members of these circles have already started to voice reprehensible suggestions.

Take, for example, the suggestion that Turkey should, in retaliation to the French parliament, expel those Armenians illegally living and working in Turkey and who are said to number between 40,000 and 70,000.

This is a disgusting suggestion that can bring nothing but dishonor to Turkey. It is also a suggestion that would please Armenian activists no end, “proving that they were right all along.”

In the end there is need for reason to prevail if Turks and Armenians genuinely want to reconcile. The fact that so many “illegal Armenians” have chosen Turkey to work in is enough to show that they feel comfortable in this country and are not threatened in any way.

This is something to build on, and not be destroyed by a stupid suggestion as expelling these people. It is time for the cynical and stupid at home and abroad to move out, and for the reasonable and compassionate to move in so that these two deeply estranged peoples can better understand what happened back then, and cultivate empathy for all those innocents who died in dreadful conditions so many year ago.

October 12, 2006
Semih İdiz




Why this haste?

Today the French Parliament votes on a bill that would make the 'denial' of the 'Armenian genocide' a crime punishable by law. Cacophony. Displays of patriotism by those who fail to read anything about this issue, giving it only minimal attention.

Today the French Parliament votes on a bill that would make the “denial” of the “Armenian genocide” a crime punishable by law. Cacophony. Displays of patriotism by those who fail to read anything about this issue, giving it only minimal attention.

The prime minister is not merely speaking for himself. He seems to have undertaken the task of expressing the sentiments on this issue of the foreign minister, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, the entire rank and file of his Justice and Development Party (AKP) and even the coffeehouse-goers.

People are already fed up with the European Union. They believe the EU (in what goes well beyond having a double standard) clearly treats Turkey in a hostile manner on issues such as Cyprus, freedom of expression and the “Armenian genocide.” All these developments coincide with remarks made in America in favor of partitioning Iraq. So, in the realm of Turkey's foreign policy, anti-Westernism now goes well beyond calculations of interest. The need to react prevails.

Governments exist for the purpose of managing crises in ways that would protect both our honor and our interests. Yet this government has, with the policy it has conducted to date, projected an un-national image. Now it is trying to benefit from the current crisis to add nationalism to its portfolio as well. After all, a presidential election and a parliamentary election are looming on the horizon. (By the way, we must not get carried away by the genocide crisis and fail to notice the Cyprus developments.)

Both the government and nongovernmental organizations are hurling threats. The Turkish Parliament is to pass a law envisaging even heavier penalties for the “denial” of the “Algerian genocide.” However, even Algeria itself has not passed such a law. Would we contemplate enacting a law for the Algerian case if the French parliament did not attempt to pass the aforementioned bill? I mean, would it become us to act with political motives on an extremely moral issue such as genocide?

Meanwhile, there is also the issue that, in the face of the genocide allegation made by Algerian President Buteflika, France has avoided a dialogue with Algeria on this issue by saying that the issue should be left to historians.

If we want to do something meaningful on this issue we can create a “crimes against humanity” park, for example, on the shores of the Golden Horn. We could place monuments there representing all the genocides and massacres in human history, monuments to be chosen through an international competition. We can found an institute that would publish its findings and organize meetings on these issues.

Such a project would involve the Armenian question along with the massacres perpetrated against the Ottomans and the way the native civilizations of Latin America were wiped out and the American Indians were killed. An effort would be made to provide a scientific explanation for the fact that almost all big massacres and genocides were perpetrated against peoples of Central Asian origin. (The Khazar Turks, who converted to Judaism, for example, were subjected to the Holocaust.)

Even if the lower house of the French parliament passes it, the controversial bill will still have to clear the Senate. Supposing that it cleared the Senate some time in the next six months. It would still have to be approved by Chirac. Meanwhile, Chirac says such a law is not necessary since the country already passed a law in 2001 on this subject. However, if the bill were presented to him he would hardly be in a position to avoid signing it. He already acknowledged the “Armenian genocide” during a recent visit to Yerevan, and he wants Turkish acknowledgement of the “genocide” to be a precondition for Turkish membership in the EU. To be consistent even at a minimal level he would have to approve the bill.

French judicial experts are mostly saying that the bill would go against the grain of the French legal system. However, somebody would have to actually apply to the French Constitutional Court to have that law abolished. Since no one would be likely to take that step, the result would be a scandalous situation: The punitive provisions of an unlawful law would be implemented.

Under the circumstances, the wisest thing we can do is to calmly wait for the enactment of the bill and then file a complaint against the French state at the European Court of Human Rights on the grounds that the law is contrary to the freedom of expression cited in Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. France would argue that the “Armenian genocide” did happen and invoke both French legal provisions and Articles 4 and 7 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965) to justify the punishment of those denying the “genocide.” We, in turn, would stress that according to Articles 6 and 9 of the genocide convention no case can be called “genocide” in the absence of a court decision to this effect. The European Court of Human Rights is not competent to deal with a case on whether a given incident constitutes genocide or not. So it has to accept our thesis. Our winning the case would constitute a big defeat for the Armenians.

Why should we take that path? Because if we scare France into backing off by making a big noise, we will be missing a huge opportunity to have our day in court.

October 12, 2006
Gündüz Aktan




We don't need a new Sept. 6-7
Anti-Western groups are enjoying what has been taking place in the past few days. The behavior of anti-EU groups in Turkey is no different from the anti-Turkish ones in France. This gave them an important opportunity to dominate the headlines. If we don’t ensure that this mania is kept under control, we will face a new Sept. 6-7 incident. Things seem to be getting out of control.

Our passion is once again getting the better of us.

It's becoming a field day for the nationalists.

Anti-Western groups are enjoying what has been taking place in the past few days. The behavior of anti-EU groups in Turkey is no different from the anti-Turkish ones in France. This gave them an important opportunity to dominate the headlines. If we don't ensure that this mania is kept under control, we will face a new Sept. 6-7 incident. Things seem to be getting out of control.

Just look at the way some are behaving. They try to appear courageous by exploiting the nonsense spouted by French politicians.

Ankara Chamber of Commerce (ATO) President Sinan Aygün appears as if he will soon call on all French-made cars to be burnt. He suggests people throwing away French-made clothes and publicizing the names of those seen wearing French products.

Can anyone imagine Workers' Party (İP) leader Doğu Perinçek doing nothing when presented with this golden opportunity? He is preparing to go on a French hunting trip. He believes the weather is just right to go on the trip.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is scared of losing votes to the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and as a result is preparing to go to France in groups to shout, “There has been no genocide,” to fill up French prisons.

Municipalities are also in line to get a share of the nationalist pie.

While Algerians are trying to forgive and forget, our country will soon be dotted by monuments remembering the Algerian genocide.

One parliamentarian is proposing to find all Armenian nationals working in the country illegally so that we can expel them. Another is proposing closing the air corridor between Turkey and Armenia.

Everyone is eagerly waiting to see who will come out on top in this race.

Who will make the most striking attack against France? Who will cause more damage?

This is exactly what worries me.

I fear the possibility of this mania spilling over and Turkey causing more harm to itself than it can possibly cause to France.

If we create such incitement, we can never hold it back.

Boycotting French products must entail a careful analysis. Recently Yılmaz Özdil noted in an article that there were more than 70 parliaments and governments that have recognized the Armenian genocide. What will we do then? Will we boycott the goods of all these countries?

Let's not forget the fact that by punishing French investment in our country, we will be sentencing our own citizens to unemployment. We will be hurting ourselves.

So what can we do?

Aren't we going to react at all?

Of course we will.

What's important is to take measures that will alert the French people to what's happening. Exaggerated reactions, hundreds of thousands on the streets, the laying of wreaths around the country, burning the effigies of French President Jacques Chirac and Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy or destroying French products is not the way to go about expressing our outrage.

Let's not incite this nation, which cannot control its reactions. Let's stop France, but let's do it within the bounds of civilized behavior.

Let's not embarrass ourselves. Let's not incite an anti-foreigner backlash.

We are dealing with the shame and damage caused by the Sept. 6-7 incidents of 50 years ago. We don't need new things to be embarrassed about.

Threats are bad, silence even worse:
The French don't know or maybe don't care about the way we will react towards this bill. We are a nation that is famous for its exaggerated responses. Sometimes we get so angry that we fail to realize the point to stop is way behind us. Eventually, we realize we are harming ourselves and our interests, but even that doesn't stop us from proceeding on the same destructive path.

These days, everyone is up in arms.

Everyone, especially the politicians, is voicing their anger. Threats are being made. The mood seems to encourage the sentiment that those who make the best threats will become the most popular.

So are these threats working to our advantage?

No.

They don't do anything to further our arguments and on top of that are being used against us by the Armenians. “Just look. The Turks are threatening France. They are insulting the French public. They believe they can buy your silence and are trying to pressure you with threats.” They are inciting the French.

So what can we do?

Is doing nothing an option?

Then Armenians say: “The Turks don't care about what goes on here. No matter what we do, they'll go around doing the same thing.”

Moreover, no one knows when the Oct. 12 decision will become law. It may take only weeks, but also years, to come into effect.

What I am trying to say is that the government is between a rock and a hard place.

The reactions need to be worded in such a way that they will not boomerang and hurt us in the future. Harsh words need to be enough to convey our anger, but we also need to ensure they are effective.

It is a very difficult problem to solve.

No matter what happens, this measure has annoyed the Turkish public immensely. Enough is enough. We have reached a point where we are willing to throw the baby out with the bath water.

The efforts initiated by former French President François Mitterand will amount to nothing. In 1992, Armenian allegations were again to blame for a low point in Turkish-French relations and only after intense efforts were the relations put back on track. This edifice built over the years will be demolished just because of a few idiots in Paris.

France is an important country. It can't be easily ignored. It has international influence. However, the latest developments are just too much.

I was educated at Galatasaray High School, which had a French curriculum. Consequently, I am better than others in understanding the French mindset. However, you can be sure that I cannot make sense of anything French politicians say these days.

Either the France I knew no longer exists or they taught me about a very different France.

October 12, 2006
Mehmet Ali Birand




Babacan warns French move could foment anti-EU sentiments
State Minister Ali Babacan, who is also Turkey's chief negotiator for European Union talks, warned yesterday that French plans to pass a bill penalizing any denial of the alleged Armenian genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Empire could foment anti-EU feelings in Turkey.

“The developments unfolding in France, to put it clearly, have demoralized us. While we are working [to improve] freedom of expression, steps taken by EU's founding member France to restrict free speech will raise doubts [inside] toward the EU,” Babacan was quoted as telling reporters in the Spanish capital of Madrid.

Facing increasing EU pressure to amend or scrap an article in its new penal code, namely Article 301, which Brussels says is restricts the freedom of expression, Turkey has complained of double standards, in apparent reference to the French move to debate a controversial bill, which also restricts free speech.

Babacan said EU demands to expand freedom of expression in Turkey contradicted what France was doing. “France is acting against the Copenhagen criteria, while we are defending the freedom of expression. We are passing reforms for ourselves. The French attitude will be a development that could foment EU opposition in Turkey,” he added.

Asked whether the government would take steps to amend or scrap Article 301 from its penal code before the EU Commission's key progress report, due on November, Babacan said they asked lawyers to work on alternatives on the issue. “But their work has not yet been submitted to decision-makers,” he said.

In comments on Ankara's bid to join the EU, Babacan said: “Despite all, we must be patient in the face of disturbing developments within the EU. Turkey is a very big country, which will have special weight within the EU. Turkey's membership is important for the EU's stability and security.”

October 12, 2006
ANKARA – Turkish Daily News




Turkish Press Yesterday
These are some of the major headlines and their summaries from Turkish newspapers on October 11, 2006

Critical messages from Ankara before the Paris vote:

Zaman yesterday said Turkey has sharpened criticism against France over a bill that would criminalize denial of the alleged Armenian genocide, with Erdoğan saying it revealed that French reason was in eclipse and telling Paris to look at its colonial past.

Erdoğan, addressing AKP lawmakers in Parliament, also pledged that Turkey would fight against the “systematic lie machine” that is pushing for recognition of the alleged genocide and said, “There can be no legal justification for making it a crime to say a lie is a lie.”

But he declined to back efforts for a tit-for-tat policy against France by passing a law in the Turkish Parliament designating French atrocities in Algeria as genocide and criminalizing its denial, saying Turkey will not “clean dirt with dirt.”

Turkish Armenian Patriarch Mesrob Mutafyan also criticized the French bill, saying it would not help improve “dialogue, empathy or mutual understanding.”

So France is going to save us?:
Vatan reported interviews with Armenians who migrated to Turkey to find work here. According to Vatan, nearly 70,000 Armenians are illegally employed in Turkey. These people are irritated by a bill to be voted on in the French Parliament on Wednesday, which, if passed, criminalizes denying genocide claims.

An individual named Nelson Madyon told Vatan: “Home is where the bread is. I don't care about the genocide. These words won't pay the rent. The French should not complicate the matter.”

October 12, 2006
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News




Backtrack on retaliation bill
Members of Parliament’s Justice Commission vote to refer the proposals to a sub-commission for further discussion, a move that effectively freezes the proposals, which had been submitted in retaliation for the French bill

Lawmakers dropped proposals yesterday to brand as genocide the killings of Algerians under French colonial rule, following France's renewed attempts to pass a similar proposal criminalizing any denial of the alleged Armenian genocide at the hands of the late Ottoman Empire.

After a three-hour debate on several draft laws, members of Parliament's Justice Commission voted to refer the proposals to a sub-commission for further discussion, a move that effectively freezes the proposals, which had been submitted in retaliation to the French bill.

Two of the three proposals that the parliamentary commission examined call for the recognition of the killings of Algerians under French colonial rule as genocide and jail terms for those who deny the genocide. The third proposal calls for the imprisonment of those who assert Armenians were victims of “genocide” under the Ottoman Empire.

A sub-commission that has been set up is made up of ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Erzurum deputy Mustafa Nuri Akbulut, AKP Kilis deputy Hasan Kara and main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Niğde deputy Orhan Eraslan.

Members of the sub-commission will consult with experts including historians and draft a report to be forwarded to the Justice Commission, which will decide whether a parliamentary debate will be held over the proposals in the light of the sub-commission's report. The Justice Commission is the first instance where bills are debated before being sent to a vote at the general assembly.

On Tuesday before the parliamentary commission debated the drafts, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan urged lawmakers to refrain from any retaliatory action, saying, “You cannot clean dirt with dirt; you can only clean dirt with clean water.” The CHP also spoke out against the parliamentary commission's moves to retaliate.

Mehmet Dülger, head of Parliament's Foreign Affairs Commission, called on lawmakers not to make a “mistake of re-writing history.”

“Let's not make the same mistake as France,” he said. “Let's not rewrite history in Parliament.”

AKP Kastamonu deputy Hakkı Köylü also spoke out against a possible legislation of the drafts.

“Turkey has so far defended freedom of expression. If the proposals are legislated, Turkey will have acted in contradiction to its argument that the issue should be left to historians,” he said.

Erdoğan had proposed the establishment of a joint commission made up of Turkish and Armenian historians to study the genocide allegations. But Armenian President Robert Kocharian rejected Erdoğan's proposal.

Köksal Toptan, head of Parliament's Justice Commission, said: “We should take a look at ourselves before looking to Europe. Where are our intellectuals who issue declarations on almost every issue? Where are those pressing us on Article 301?”

Turkey is under intense EU pressure to remove an article from its penal code that has led to the criminal prosecution of Turks who have said the killings of Armenians amounted to “genocide.” Many here have accused Europeans and France in particular of applying double standards by pressing Turkey to remove the article while France is introducing its bill. Erdogan has called on the EU to weigh in on Turkey's side.

October 12, 2006
ANKARA - TDN Parliament Bureau




Former UK minister warns EU over patronizing Turkey
A senior member of the European Parliament has warned that European politicians and institutions have been “doing their level best to tell Turkey it is no longer wanted as part of the European Union,” describing this attitude as “a high-risk game with little to gain and a great deal to lose.”

Denis MacShane, a member of Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labor Party and British minister for EU affairs from 2002 to 2005, made this assumption in an article published Tuesday in leading U.K. daily the Financial Times.

MacShane posed the following questioned in his article titled “Patronizing Turkey is a dangerous game for Europe:” “How much longer will this secular, democratic, Muslim country look westwards to a European future, instead of turning east?”

Bringing to mind French President Jacques Chirac's recent remarks during a visit to Armenia where he said that Turkey should recognize the killings of Anatolian Armenians during the World War I as “genocide” in order to become an EU member, MacShane said what Chirac was “unilaterally creating a new condition of EU membership for Turkey.”

“This is rather like Tony Blair popping up in Madagascar or Algeria and telling France to apologize for the postwar massacres undertaken by French soldiers as they put down uprisings,” MacShane said.

“The Armenian massacres are a dreadful scar in the memory of that proud people, torn apart by the many wars and foreign interventions of the 20th century. But it was the decaying elements of the Ottoman Empire that killed the Armenians, not the modern Turkish Republic. If the EU is to demand apologies for historic misdeeds from its existing members, let alone potential members, then it may as well dissolve itself.”

The British MEP also noted that EU's Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn, following Chirac's remarks, reiterated that recognition of genocide was not an official precondition of membership.

Yet, MacShane subsequently questioned whether this pleasing correction from Rehn was sufficient enough.

“It was a welcome correction. But how do you explain away the European Commission president, José Manuel Barroso, saying that the era of EU enlargement is over? This problem goes beyond the bluster of bureaucrats in Brussels or an elderly French president on his way out of office,” he said.

Turkey's friends need to lead a diplomatic offensive to ensure the EU honors its obligations, Mac Shane said, listing as an example the EU's pledge to ease international isolation of Turkish Cypriots.

“Leaving Turkey turning on the spit of European debate -- roasted by condescension, ignorance and hostility -- will transform one of Europe's greatest assets into a source of conflict and tension. For good or ill Europe is now intervening in a region full of problems in Iran, Iraq and Israel-Palestine. Making an enemy of Turkey will make solving any of these problems far more difficult,” he concluded.

October 12, 2006
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News




France is Playing with Fire
Lately, Turkey has been spending all its energy dealing with artificial issues. However, Turkey would be better served addressing pressing issues developing abroad.

While Turkey was busy discussing the reactionary threat, France decided to deliberate a draft bill that would punish any denial of the “Armenian genocide.”

The draft bill will be discussed on October 12. Unlike the legislation in effect that recognizes an Armenian genocide, the present bill will impose sanctions. Those who say, “there was no Armenian genocide in 1915” could face imprisonment of up to one year and a large fine.

What will be the result of the vote? Turkey is doing everything it can to prevent the bill’s adoption. Public bodies as well as civil society organizations are trying hard to exert pressure on the French authorities in an attempt to impede the whole process.

Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul called his French colleague and warned him of the possible consequences. In a similar vein, at a meeting last week Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged representatives of French firms to put pressure on the French administration to prevent the adoption of the bill.

Despite the efforts reliable estimates indicate that the draft will very likely be passed by the parliament. A large number of French politicians who seek the support of the Armenian population in the upcoming elections seemingly will vote for the draft bill that distorts historical facts. I hope common sense will prevail at the last minute, and historical facts will not be sacrificed for political considerations.

Otherwise, the cost of this irreparable mistake will be huge for France. It is almost certain that the draft will cause France to lose Turkey. Turkish reaction will not only involve economic means but also political ones. Turkish people will respond to the French attitude in a similar fashion. After all, public opposition to France will last for such a long time.

At present, Ankara is reviewing possible responses to be put into effect according to the voting results. At first, political relations will be degraded to a minimal level. Official visits will be cancelled. The tone of the reaction will gradually become stronger in the near future. There are also other means that Turkey is considering.

The reactions are not limited to the political sphere. As is very well known, Turkey is a good market for French firms. The volume of bilateral trade between the two countries is 10 billion dollars. If the draft law is adopted, French firms will not be considered for Turkish bids. French firms are especially interested in aviation industry and nuclear energy bids. After the adoption of the draft, it will be very hard for French firms to do business with Turkey.

In addition, the reaction of the civil society sector also cannot be ignored. Over the last two days, civil society reactions to the French attempt have been coming from all over Turkey. Apparently, everyday French goods will be boycotted by the masses. In the contemporary world, economic reactions are much stronger than political sanctions.

Genocide was also on the domestic political agenda. At his party’s group meeting, Prime Minister Erdogan called on France not to make such a colossal mistake. In his address, Erdogan said: “Such an erroneous step will not change anything for Turkey, but for France.”

The People’s Republican Party (CHP) and the Motherland Party (ANAP) gave similar messages. CHP leader Deniz Baykal said, “We are deeply sorry to see the children of Rousseau and Montesquieu like this.”

The European Union is concerned too. EU Commissioner Olli Rehn urged French politicians to be responsible and serious. I wonder if the warnings will work and lead French deputies to change their attitudes during the voting session October 12.

MUSTAFA UNAL 10.12.2006
e-mail:m.unal@zaman.com.tr




Discussion on Genocide Bill Starts in France
The draft bill to penalize those who reject the alleged Armenian genocide is currently under discussion in the French Parliament.

The genocide bill sparked outrage in Turkey.

If the bill is passed in the parliament today, it must then be passed in the Senate and signed by French President Jacques Chirac for its implementation.

Though the French government does not support the bill, the ruling UMP (Union for a Popular Movement) did not issue a group decision regarding the bill, leaving the deputies free to vote as they see fit.

French businessmen are concerned that their affairs in Turkey will suffer in the event the bill is passed.

“French companies’ affairs are in trouble. This is not the time to risk these,” French Trade Minister Christine Lagarde said in a parliamentary address yesterday.

“Imagine for a second that Germany today denied the Holocaust. It is totally unacceptable,” UMP deputy Patrick Devedjian told RTL Radio.

However, Michel Barnier from the same party said “France must know it is prosecuting history with this issue.”

France recognized the alleged Armenian genocide in 2001.

The bill first came to the agenda in May 2006, and now returns at the threshold of presidential elections in France.

Discussions are underway in the parliament, and the bill is expected to be voted on at noon.

About 400,000 Armenians currently live in France, where a powerful Armenian lobby exists.

October 12, 2006
zaman.com




If only Getting Angry with France were the Solution
The agenda related to the Armenian genocide claim previously had a routine schedule. Everyone knew that the issue would confront us on the commemoration day of the genocide claim in April.

As a result of the powerful Armenian lobby’s efforts, the subject would be put on the agenda of the American Congress. But by putting its own weight on the American government, Ankara would try and prevent a dangerous development.

This issue, repeated again and again, had become so trying that it is said that during Turgut Ozal’s visit to Washington in 1991, he asked our American ambassador Nuzhet Kandemir if it wouldn’t just be better to acknowledge the genocide and end the matter. Kandemir is said to have replied, “Honorable President, this is not a matter to be resolved hastily. It is necessary to think well and be careful.”

Years have passed since this conversation. Maybe this accusation that our nation perpetrated genocide is really not an issue to be resolved hastily, but it’s certain that Turkey hasn’t been able to prevent it by thinking well. The matter has rapidly gone beyond a routine calendar date. Due to the impossibility of an early diagnosis being made, it has spread like cancer. It has become an issue that appears before us in every month of the year and in almost every place in the world. Let’s look at the latest examples together:

A case was opened a year ago in Switzerland against Yusuf Halacoglu, director of the Turkish History Institute, because he said at a meeting that the events the Armenians experienced in history were not genocide.

Turkish recognition of the genocide claim was put in the latest report on Turkey by the European Parliament. This was not the first decision for this institution, but recognition of the genocide claim was put in the draft report as a precondition for EU membership. The text was softened a little during the report’s approval process. It was not a precondition, but there was no change in the request for recognition of the genocide.

At the same time the genocide claim surfaced in Holland. Parliamentary candidates of Turkish origin were removed from the voting lists because they rejected the claims of genocide.

Now we are locked in by a decision the French parliament will give. A proposal brought forth by the opposition makes it a crime to “deny the Armenian genocide.” The French government says it is opposed to this. Optimism continues that if the proposal passes in the French Congress, it will be stopped by the Senate. Perhaps with the intervention of the European Union and France not wanting to lose the Turkish market, this initiative might fall through. However, even if it is prevented, we shouldn’t neglect this point: It is no longer being debated whether or not the genocide occurred. The matter has passed to a more advanced stage. Now the discussion is on whether or not recognition should be a precondition for EU membership or whether or not those rejecting genocide should be put in jail.

Consequently, those in responsible positions should finally cease closing their ears to alarms that have been ringing for a long time. As we continue to neglect taking up this issue, it doesn’t remain in the same place. Today what faces our brothers in Holland will probably confront our history professors tomorrow and our statesmen the next day. In view of this serious danger, we have to develop a pro-active political strategy instead of assigning the matter to historians. It is foremost a political task. Otherwise, we’re going to have to declare war on a different country each day or boycott their products. We need to get results in this direction in one or two events; we can’t close our eyes to our citizens’ walking around in the world as if they were trying to hide a fault. Enemies will act with enmity, but we need to question why we haven’t explained our own case as a nation possessing perhaps the most magnificent history in the world in regard to tolerance.

As a matter of fact, Professor Sukru Hanioglu, an important name on the subject of recent history, indicated that the official thesis of leaving the last word to historians regarding the 1915 Migration Law and events that followed in its wake didn’t make sense. He wrote that instead of an unrealistic thesis such as this, which doesn’t have much chance of being accepted outside of Turkey, Turkish politicians, in consultation with historians, should develop a new “political strategy.” (Zaman, 1/20/05) Alarming developments make a new political strategy more necessary every day.

10.12.2006
ABDULHAMIT BILICI
e-mail:a.bilici@zaman.com.tr




Government's Rejection Fails, Bill Accepted
The lower house of the French parliament passed the bill penalizing denial of the so-called Armenian genocide 106- 19.

The bill still needs to be accepted by the Senate and French President Jacques Chirac in order to be implemented.

Speaking on behalf of the French government, European Affairs Minister Delegate Catherine Colonna rejected the bill during the parliament’s session earlier today.

The bill carries up to one year of imprisonment and a 45,000 Euro penalty for denying so-called Armenian genocide.

October 12, 2006
zaman.com




Le Monde Editorial Asks French Deputies to Reject Bill
France’s Le Monde newspaper called on French deputies not to vote for the Armenian draft bill before the session at the French parliament today.

In an editorial, the newspaper termed the draft to penalize anyone who denies the purported Armenian genocide as an “inappropriate discussion” and said that politicians must not act as ministries of truth.

Before the critical session, Le Monde’s lead editorial column was on the draft bill submitted by France’s Socialist Party.

Pointing out this initiative divided all political parties within themselves, the newspaper said the bill would most probably pass but it would never come to the agenda of the senate, which is the next step before the bill becomes law.

In the article, it is said the purported Armenian genocide is not equal to the Jewish genocide and denying the Jewish genocide was a kind of anti-Semitism that is penalized by the French law as racism. Le Monde said this had nothing to do with the so-called Armenian genocide.

Reiterating that the so-called Armenian genocide had no place in the penal code, Le Monde said “This is the memory work of the Turkish nation.”

Quoting Nicolas Sarkozy, who supports the bill, the editorial read “Freedom of expression is not manipulating history nor denying historical evidence,” Le Monde replied to the ruling party leader as follows: “Freedom of expression is neither taking the history and the Armenian case hostage for political goals.”

Addressing the politicians, Le Monde said “We hope deputies will not vote for this bill and correct this wrong step.”

In the article entitled “L'Arménie en otage” (Armenia in Hostage), it is stated the bill puts forward a double problem in terms of history and Turkey knocking at the door of the European Union. The article handles the following points in summary:

First of all, the view that “history cannot be written down by laws,” which was settled since the polemic on the law about “the positive role of the colonization.”

French historians published a manifesto on this.

The bill opposes this consensus approved by President Jacques Chirac.

The other problem is that the bill will be counterproductive in Turkey, where the alleged genocide has begun to be discussed, which will give a trump to the nationalists.

By Ali Ihsan Aydin, Paris
October 12, 2006
zaman.com




18 Countries Accepted 'Genocide' in 41 Years
Parliaments of foreign countries began to recognize the so-called Armenian genocide 41 years ago.

To date, 18 parliaments have recognized the events of 1915 as genocide since 1965. The number of parliaments taking a stance on this issue increased dramatically after 2000. According to the evaluations made in Ankara there are five factors effective in the political decisions of these parliaments. These are pressure from Armenian minorities in these countries, hostility against Turkey, Turcophobia or reluctance over Turkey’s admittance into the European Union, looking for an accomplice for the genocides they had committed in the past and religious reasons.

The Armenian Diaspora began to carry the events of 1915 on the agenda of countries in which they live beginning in 1960. The first decision was taken in 1965 in Uruguay. Following this decision, Southern Cyprus made a similar decision in 1982, and the number of decisions overall increased dramatically after 2000. The decisions reached their peak in 2005, the 90th anniversary of 1915 events.

Armenian Pressure and Turcophobia
The authorities asserted that the decisions made in Uruguay, Russia, Canada, Lebanon, France, Switzerland, Italy and Venezuela were taken due to pressure of the Armenian minority population in these countries.

The decisions made in Greece and Southern Cyprus were due to hostility against Turkey, while it is believed that reluctance over Turkey’s accession to the European Union lies under the decisions made in Italy and France. The decisions made in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and Poland have similar reasons, religious reasons behind the Vatican’s decision. The attitudes of Germany, Latvia and Slovakia are accepted as a struggle to find accomplices for their own crimes against humanity.

Final Aim: Demanding Land from Turkey
The Armenian Diaspora, which has been the most influential force behind these countries accepting these decisions, has made demands for Turkey.

* Advertising the “genocide”
* Recognizing the so-called genocide,
* Paying amends to the inheritors of the victims of the “genocide,”
* Giving part of eastern Turkey’s territory to Armenia.

The first decision to recognize the events of 1915 was made in Uruguay

The countries that support the so-called Armenian genocide thesis are as follows:

Greek Cypriot Administration: April 29, 1982
Greece: April 25, 1996
Belgium: March 26, 1998
Sweden: March 29, 2000
Vatican: 2000
Lebanon: May 11, 2000
France: Jan.18, 2001
Switzerland: Dec. 16, 2003
Canada: 1996, 2000, and April 21, 2004
Slovakia: Nov. 30, 2004
The Netherlands: Dec. 21, 2004
Poland: April 19, 2005
Argentina: 1993, 2003, 3004, 2005
Russia: April 22, 2005
Uruguay: 1965, 2004, May 3, 2005
Venezuela: July 14, 2005
Latvia: Dec. 15, 2005

By Suleyman Kurt, Ankara
October 12, 2006
zaman.com




Turkish Businessman Says Armenian Bill 'French Ploy'
The French parliament will negotiate a bill that would penalize denial of the so-called Armenian genocide on Thursday.

Representatives of the Turkish business world are lobbying in Paris to show their increasing displeasure toward the bill. Kaan Soyak, the Turkish-Armenian co-chair of the Council on Development of Economic Ties said, “The Armenian genocide is just a cover; France’s actual concern is to prevent Turkey’s accession to the European Union.”

Soyak said this discussion over the so-called Armenian genocide should end as soon as possible and added it was only the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government that could manage to accomplish this.

Soyak said France used the Armenian issue as a trump against Turkey and added he was always prevented whenever he demanded help from French ambassadors to fix the relationship with Armenia.

Soyak, who was invited by many French NGOs to Paris last week, said that these NGOs wanted him to go to Paris and talk about relations between Turkey and Armenia. Being the co-chairman of the only official foundation between the two countries, Soyak turned down all of the invitations.

He said that Armenia had nothing to do with the bill in the French parliament and added even if there had been this kind of genocide, it was not France’s concern.

According to Soyak, who said the negotiations between Turkey and Armenia had continued, the two nations had lived together in peace for almost seven centuries and they wanted to continue living together without any problems.

Soyak further asserted that the countries that did do not want Turkey to join the European Union brought the EU, the so-called Armenian genocide and Cyprus issues to the agenda constantly and wanted to prevent Turkey’s EU accession by these means.

Soyak claimed another reason behind the discussion over the so-called Armenian genocide was not to let Turkey-Armenia relations improve, and added: “Whenever the relations between Turkey and Armenia tend to get better, whenever the trade relations between the two countries develop the bill comes to France’s agenda.”

He added: “The draft bill was on the agenda on January 18, 2001 before this. The Turkish prime minister was Bulent Ecevit then. At that time, Turkey and Armenia were about to take steps in the way to solution in an EU country in two weeks time. France learned this and prevented the meeting.”

Soyak does not agree with France that Armenians in the Diaspora support the bill. Soyak said only 15 members of the Armenian parliament, constituting the extremist nationalists, support the so-called Armenian genocide and added the Armenian government does not demand this.

Soyak said Armenia wanted to solve this problem only with Turkey without intervention of third parties and added the JDP government could solve this until the general elections in Turkey and provide the Caucasus with permanent peace.

Tourism Benefits from Solution of Problem
Soyak said if the problems between the two countries were solved, the tourists visiting Armenia would also visit Turkey and vice versa. Soyak said 200,000 tourists visited Armenia last year and added: “We have asked the tourists in Armenia whether they would like to visit Turkey for three days if the border gates were opened, and the answer was positive in general. Eastern Anatolia would have the chance to host 300,000 to 500,000 more tourists by these means.”

By Ercan Baysal, Ankara
October 12, 2006
zaman.com




Arinc Calls French Bill 'An Embarrassing Decision'
Turkish parliament speaker Bulent Arinc commented on the French parliament’s backing of the bill that would penalize the denial of the so-called Armenian genocide: “This is an embarrassing decision. This is a hostile attitude toward Turkish society and it is impossible for us to accept this. We meet this [decision] with great sorrow. This is absolutely untrue. This kind of a situation has never been observed in the world so far. It is unfortunate to observe this kind of a decision in a country that is accepted as the cradle of democracy. This is against freedom of speech.”

Arinc organized a press conference in Ankara and replied to journalists’ questions. Arinc commented on the acceptance of the so-called Armenian genocide bill in the French parliament and said:

“We were expecting this kind of a result. This is a decision taken by a ‘third’ country about a past event between two countries. This is absolutely untrue. Furthermore, this is against freedom of speech. They will welcome the ones who accept this but will punish those who deny this. I accept this as a state of mind. Relations between France and Turkey have very old roots. France made great contributions to the transformation of Turkey. It is interesting that today France is able to create a strong reaction in Turkish society. We believe this bill will not pass in the [French] Senate. I believe there will be many intellectuals and famous people in France who will say there is no Armenian genocide. We are bothered and embarrassed that this decision was taken in France with concerns for interior politics. Even discussing this kind of issue in the French parliament is embarrassing for us.”

October 12, 2006
zaman.com




French Government Tries to Ease Tension
The French government put the focus on ties between Turkey and France as it issued a statement downplaying the necessity of the Armenian genocide bill.

A statement from the French Foreign Ministry expressed lack of support for the bill passed on Thursday in parliament.

The bill has to get approval from the French senate to become an actual law. This is the first step in a long series of legislative procedures. Consequently, the French government will be in better standing to deal with each detail of the bill, the statement said.

The French Foreign Ministry also expressed its support for efforts to maintain a dialogue between France and Turkey.

October 12, 2006
zaman.com




France Wants to Continue Dialogue with Turkey
After the French parliament backed a bill that would punish those who deny the alleged Armenian genocide, which has caused a deal of great tension between Turkey and France, Paris stated that it wanted to continue its dialogue with Turkey.

The French Foreign Ministry has stated that Paris is willing to carry on the dialogue with Turkey. Ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei said at a news conference, “We are willing to carry on our dialogue, strong cooperation and friendship with Turkey.” Mattei also remarked that the bill was “unnecessary and inappropriate.” Also reiterating that a long period of time awaited the bill’s passing, he noted he would speak about the steps the government took at each phase of this long process.

Catherine Colonna, the minister in charge of European affairs, spoke in the General Assembly hall before the vote on behalf of the government and opposed the bill. Stating that the bill should not be voted on, she said, “As the government, we are against the bill”.

Of the 129 deputies who voted, 125 of the votes were eligible. The motion was carried 106-19. The bill still needs to be ratified by both the Senate’s upper house and signed by French President Jacques Chirac to become law.

The legislation establishes a one-year prison term and 45,000 euro ($56,570) fine for anyone denying that an Armenian genocide occurred.

The EU Commission has criticized the passing of the bill.

Krisztina Nagy, spokeswoman for EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn, said, “Should this law become enforced, it would prohibit dialogue that is necessary for reconciliation on the issue.”

Nagy said that the discussion of this topic in Turkey was very important. Nagy also mentioned that the recognition of an alleged genocide could not be a criterion as the admission criteria was the same for all countries.

October 12, 2006
zaman.com




Foreign Ministry Delivers Harsh Reaction to France
The Foreign Ministry has stated that relations between Turkey and France received a severe blow with the passing of the controversial genocide denial bill.

The statement made by the ministry remarked that, “The long-standing historical relations between Turkey and France, which have grown through the centuries with great care, have received a severe blow today because of the irresponsible attempts - based on groundless claims - of a group of French politicians who are unable to appreciate the consequences of the policies they follow.”

The statement continues: “Despite of all the diplomatic and parliamentary efforts carried out hand in hand at all levels for a long time by the Turkish Parliament, our citizens in France, our non-governmental organizations and business environments; after being submitted to the French National Assembly by the Socialist Party last May without any results, the passing of the bill this time on Oct.12, 2006 in the French National Assembly, envisaging severe punishment for denying the Armenian genocide, has caused a profound grievance.”

Sheer Disappointment
A statement released said that today’s Armenian genocide bill would have to go through a long process for it to become a law.

It must pass through the senate before final approval by the French president.

Nonetheless, with this first step taken by the French parliament, the Turkish government is disappointed.

The statement also reassured the Turkish government of efforts by the French government to put a stop to any progress with the Armenian bill.

“This bill , a violation of both the French constitutional system that gives the utmost priority to freedom of expression and the European Treaty that specifies situations when freedom of expression and of thought can be restricted, goes against the values of liberty, brotherhood and equality, identified with the French nation, a source of inspiration for free world,” the statement read.


A Typical Contradiction
In the statement, it is said “It is a typical contradiction for a country’s parliament to say, by means of top authorities, that the parliament has no task of rewriting history, this responsibility belongs to historians when it is about its own history but assumes a right to judge other states’ history and to penalize.” In the statement it is also mentioned that discussing such a bill in France is an example of a double standard. The statement reads as follows:

“Despite important reforms we have realized in recent years in order to develop fundamental rights and freedoms and in a period when Turkey is advised to take additional steps on freedom of expression, the discussion on such topics as the bill in France is another double standard. A State’s credibility depends on protecting values that they lay down for others to follow.

This bill takes the freedom of thought and expression hostage in a way totally contrary to a democratic regime has sparked a deep outrage in the Turkish nation as well as in our Armenian citizens.

Seventy million Turkish people reject the restriction of freedom of thought and expression with reference to baseless allegations. Unfortunately, this bill makes France lose its privileged position by the Turkish people.”

October 12, 2006
zaman.com




Diplomacy in moderation approach
While politicians continue making angry remarks aimed at France, Turkish diplomacy is fine-tuning towards a more moderate wait-and-see approach on the French Parliament's possible approval of a bill stipulating prison terms and fines for those who question an Armenian "genocide."

Turkish diplomats have also said that measures taken towards France would be carefully moderated and efforts made to ensure a bilateral cooling of ties does not spill over to multilateral relations, including the European Union.

While there would be steps taken in political, economic and military areas and some cooling in ties the day after the French bill, there would be no suspension of ties, said diplomats.

While sources state that the first step could be minimizing political ties and close contact, they said that Turkey is not planning to cancel already-signed bilateral economic agreements or military tenders with French firms from the start. However, the same sources didn't rule out the cancellation of bilateral economic agreements in the future, stressing that trilateral ones won't be affected as they involve a third state.

Highlighting that the Turkish government will not impose an embargo on French goods or services, sources hinted that it won't prevent some trade organizations, unions, chambers, stock exchanges or individuals from doing so.

Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Namik Tan said on Wednesday that Turkey hopes the French authorities will reject the bill stipulating prison terms and fines for those who question the Armenian genocide claims.

At his weekly press briefing, Tan noted that the French government has launched some initiatives to counter the bill, describing that a "positive development." Tan added that Turkey hopes the bill will be dropped from the French Parliament's agenda.

Diplomatic sources also stated on Wednesday that the Turkish nation was deeply disappointed by initiatives like the French move to debate the Armenian bill, since those negatively affect bilateral ties. Warning of the possible dangers of the approval of the bill by the French Parliament, which could cause "uncontrolled reactions" from non-governmental organizations or some chambers and stock exchanges, sources called on the Turkish public to act in a controlled manner. "Turkey has a long tradition of bilateral relations with France and reactions should not turn into national hatred," a source said.

According to the same sources, the EU will possibly respond to France if the Armenian bill is passed by Parliament since the bill is against freedom of expression, the main principle of the Union.

While Ankara thinks approval of the bill won't negatively affect relations between Turkey and the EU, sources said that it will have negative effects on initiatives that aim at a normalization of ties between Turkey and Armenia.

The New Anatolian / Ankara
12 October 2006




Armenian bill divides French Parliament
A bill stipulating penalties for those who question an Armenian "genocide" has divided the French Parliament ahead of today's critical vote as the majority of ruling party deputies announced that they will abstain from voting to protest it.

The divisions stem from the government's decision on late Tuesday to give all its members free reign in today's vote on the bill stipulating prison terms up to one year and fines of 45,000 euros for those who question the Armenian genocide claims.

According to the French press, most of the deputies from the ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) won't participate in today's because of the government's decision, a move which also aims at distancing the ruling party from the results of the critical vote on the bill and comes amid Ankara's call for it to take a clear stance on the issue.

Added to the UMP deputies, some from the Socialist Party (PS), that brought the bill to the French Parliament floor, will also abstain from voting since, according to the press, they don't want to face protests from Armenia-friendly deputies when they express their views.

According to a political analyst, the bill is however expected to be passed by the French Parliament since there's expected to be a low turn-out of ruling UMP deputies, known to oppose the bill, which could potentially pave the way for its approval.

If passed, the approval of the Senate is also needed for the bill to become law. However, political analysts say that the ruling UMP, wouldn't send the Armenian bill to the Senate for a long time. Following the approval of the Senate the signature of the president is also needed for the bill to be enacted.

The French Foreign Ministry, in its statements in the last two days, has also expressed opposition to the bill. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, French Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jean-Baptiste Mattei stated that the bill doesn't bind the government, describing the vote as "unnecessary."

Armenian-origin UMP Deputy Patrik Deveciyan has submitted a proposal for amendments to the bill, stressing that studies and investigations by scholars and historians shouldn't be linked to the implementation of the bill.

The ruling UMP late Tuesday also expressed its support for Deveciyan's suggestions.

The French Parliament in May indefinitely postponed a vote on the controversial bill since heated debates between the UMP and Socialist deputies exceeded the time limit. But the bill has been brought up for redebat by the PS.

In 2001 the French Parliament recognized an Armenian "genocide," a move that created years of tense relations between France and Turkey.

The New Anatolian / Ankara
12 October 2006


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