1108) EU Parliamentarian Lagendijk criticizes France, the Netherlands

The co-head of the EU-Turkey Parliament Commission, Joost Lagendijk, has signalled his disapproval for the so-called Armenian genocide denial bill which the French Parliament is scheduled to debate this week. Lagendijk, who called on Turkey last week to get rid of the controversial article 301 from its penal code, said yesterday "To speak openly, right now, neither France nor the Netherlands are showing respect for freedom of expression. . .

What this means is that they are quieting people down." Lagendijk's criticism of the Netherlands came in the wake of news that several ethnically Turkish candidates in upcoming elections across the Netherlands were forced of their parties' candidate lists when they refused to acknowledge the so-called Armenian genocide.

Lagendijk's comments on the matter continued as follows: "To make denial of the Armenian genocide a crime is an attempt to squelch debate on this subject, and is incredibly risky. If want to maintain our authority and believability in front of Turkey, we have to stay away from these attempts to limit freedom of expression. I am opposed to these efforts. Also, politics must never intrude on the debates which occur between historians."

Lagendijk touched in particular on the removal of the Turkish candidates from election lists in his own country, the Netherlands:

"It is extremely worrisome that the Turks were removed as candidates in my country. These questions are only being directed at the Turkish candidates. Why don't they ask me, or my collegue, Camiel Eurlings? Maybe we also think differently on this subject."


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