1083) Turks in Netherlands reject politics over Armenian issue, report

Amsterdam- The large Turkish minority in the Netherlands is considering a boycott of the Dutch elections in November as a result of pressure on Turkish candidates to acknowledge that Armenians suffered genocide in 1915, the daily Volkskrant reported Thursday. "Many of the 400,000 Turks in the Netherlands regard themselves as no longer welcome and are turning their backs on politics," Sabri Kenan Bagci, chairman of the IOT organization that speaks for Turkish interests, told the daily Volkskrant. . . . .

Bagci said he had called a national meeting of leading Turks in Utrecht on Sunday in response to a growing crisis over the issue within the community.

Turkish candidates for the November 22 elections have come under pressure from their parties to publicly acknowledge the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Armenians during World War I as an act of genocide.

The largest party in the Dutch parliament, the Christian Democrats (CDA), has pulled two Turkish candidates from its electoral list, while the main opposition Labour Party (PvdA) has dropped one.

Over the weekend the CDA placed another Turk on its list, but was immediately accused of "tokenism."

Talip Demirhan, who spent eight years on the CDA's management board, expressed his anger over the pressure on Turkish candidates.

"We are being asked whether our great-grandfather was a mass murderer. If he was, then as far as I'm concerned he can go to hell, but why should I have to acknowledge responsibility to the average Dutch citizen," Demirhan, 63, told the Volkskrant.

He poured scorn on the notion that this had to do with Dutch "norms and values."

The issue is highly sensitive in Turkey itself. The European Parliament last week voted to withdraw a requirement that Turkey acknowledge the Armenian genocide as part of the conditions for Turkish membership of the European Union.

Turkish public opinion has taken a keen interest in the controversy in the Netherlands, where official statistics put the number of residents of Turkish origin at 365,000 in a population of 16.3 million.

© 2006 dpa German Press Agency
October 5, 2006


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