1082) "Would I be jailed for denying ‘genocide’? " Tüzmen

Calling on the French National Assembly for “common sense” during a scheduled vote next week on a highly contentious bill that penalizes any denial of an alleged Armenian genocide, State Minister Kürşad Tüzmen expressed on Wednesday his disappointment that the issue had become a tool to score domestic political goals in France. . .

Delivering a speech at a panel held in the French capital as part of “Turkey@Europe-Week,” arranged by the Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen's Association (TÜSİAD) to celebrate the first anniversary of the opening of Turkey's accession negotiations with the EU, Tüzmen focused on the bill that was shelved last spring, leading to dismay and anger among the Armenian diaspora in France.

“I hope that the French Parliament will do the necessary thing by acting with common sense in response to the Socialist Party's request,” Tüzmen said referring to the fact that the assembly's decision for the vote, scheduled for Oct. 12, came at the request from the main opposition Socialist Party, the bill's architect.

“I'm saying in self-confidence that no genocide took place. I'm asking, what historian or academician will be able to conduct free research after this bill? I'm a state minister in Turkey. When I come here after Oct. 12 and say that there was no Armenian genocide in line with my belief, will they put me in prison? Will I be fined? It would be very inappropriate in the globalized world.”

During an informal meeting of the NATO foreign ministers held in Sofia last spring, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül focused on the same point as Tüzmen during talks with his French counterpart, Philippe Douste-Blazy.

“You are planning to hand prison sentences down to those who claim the Armenian genocide did not occur. Let's say either I or the president of Turkey visited France and held a press conference at which reporters asked us about Armenian genocide claims. And let's say we responded by saying: ‘These claims are lies. They have no connection to reality.' Would you then throw either one of us in prison? Would this really suit France, a country that champions free speech and freedom of thought throughout Europe? On the one hand you are giving people the right to do as they wish and on the other you are denying people's right to defend themselves against false accusations. This goes against the values of Europe,” Gül reportedly told the French minister at the time.

October 5, 2006
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News

Sabanci: Fanatics in Turkey and Abroad Should not Determine our Agenda
Discussions are still taking place about Turkey’s future membership in the European Union, an organization that started accession talks with the Turkish government on October 3, 20005.

Omer Sabanci, head of the Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen Association, or TUSIAD, reiterated the point of Turkey having the utmost willingness to join the European Union, as formalized in its decision dated Oct. 3.

There are extremists both in Europe and in Turkey setting the agenda for us, complained Sabanci, but pledged full support to the Turkish government in its march towards the European Union.

There is a tendency among most Europeans not to want further enlargement, a situation worsened with the publication of some demeaning pictures of the Prophet Mohammed, with the terrorist attacks, and with Muslims living in Europe as a minority with difficulties in adapting to the European way of life, said Sabanci at a panel discussion in Europe. “The European Union is now a playmaker in the Middle East. Turkey’s resolve to send troops to Lebanon was a sign of its cooperation with the European Union. The European Union has to count on Turkey for provision of security, with energy as well as of elasticity in demand.”

Sabanci restated the need to remove Article #301 from the Turkish Penal Code as a clause that restricts freedom of expression in Turkey when he said, “There’s a marked contradiction between the Turkish government wanting to improve freedom of thought and the French government attempting to restrict freedom of expression.”

Sabanci characterized this kind of attitude as belonging to a country that does not want to face facts.

Kursad Tuzmen, Turkish State Minister, was also on the panel.

Tuzmen spoke of a draft bill scheduled for parliamentary discussion in France on Sept. 12 that penalizes denial of the so-called Armenian genocide, and went over the point of Turkey never having a mass execution in its history.

“The 1915 Ottoman cabinet had two ministers of Armenian origin, who remained in the cabinet even after the forced emigration. If there had really been a mass execution of Armenians, they would not have remained in the cabinet. Even a look at Russian history would tell us that there were not any mass executions at that time,” said Tuzmen.

“I hope the French parliamentarians will be listening to common sense in their evaluation of this proposal from the Socialist Party. I have the self-confidence to argue that there was not a mass execution of Armenians. I would like to raise this question: How can French historians and academicians ever do free research on this alleged mass execution of Armenians if the bill receives parliamentary approval? I’m a Turkish State Minister. Will I go to prison as a minister when I come back after Sept. 12 and deny the alleged mass execution of Armenians? Or, will I be fined for it? That’d be a disaster on a global scale.”

By Economy News Desk
October 05, 2006


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