19 October 2006

1141) Over 110 Articles in One on French Bill and Pamuk's Nobel


"Over 110 Articles in One" on French Bill and the Nobel (16 - 17 - 18 October)




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.

16 October 2006
The New Anatolian




The Genocide Terror: The Armenian Bill in France Parliament
Turkey’s membership to the EU has been a test of democracy and “Europeanness” for the EU rather than Turkey.

We were used to harsh criticisms of the “Europeans” about Turkey’s economy, democracy etc. Until now, they have scolded the Turkish people and the Turks have listened to them.

Most of the time, the EU side was right in its criticisms. They kept on saying “human rights”, “end the torture”, “consolidate your democracy”, “liberalize your economy” and many more. There were of course some unjust criticisms too. Particularly, the Cyprus and the Aegean disputes and the Armenian issue were giving us signs from the “dark side” of Europe. But it has never been this much dirty.

MODERN WITCH HUNT
Even listing the incidents one after another will be enough to demonstrate how ‘Europe’ is in a stalemate and how it nurtures a medieval “monster” within itself:

After September 11, so to say “the witch hunt” started in Western Europe against the Euro Muslims and Euro Turks. Being a Muslim has been equated with being a “potential terrorist” even in countries like the Netherlands and England, which are thought to be “minority heavens.” Many Muslims in these EU countries have unjustly been detained, and have remained in cells as if they were criminals. Some were proven innocent and released. Neither apology nor compensation… The detentions are still continuing. Those whose skin color is darker or who look like Middle Easterner now have to walk faster in the streets because of the attitude of the security forces towards them.

The Denmark daily Jyllands-Posten’s cartoon contest, which had an obvious aim of insulting the Prophet of Islam, and the publication of these cartoons in Denmark were also provocations. Turkey noticed that a crisis was imminent and called for a meeting to calm down the situation. However, the Denmark’s PM Anders Fogh Rasmussen ignored these calls, and what is more, gave a lesson of “Europeanness” to Turkey. He said “is Turkey European or not, it should decide on that.” Moreover, he strictly and impolitely rejected the requests of ambassadors of Muslim countries to Copenhagen for a meeting with him. “There is nothing to talk” he said. But the fears have come true. The Muslims, whose Prophet was depicted as “terrorist”, “murderer” and “barbarian” by the Danish newspaper, organized protests in many countries. Because they knew that it was not only the Prophet but also themselves who were being insulted. The one depicted in the cartoon was not only the Prophet, but the whole Muslim community, whose number is more than 1 billion. The Muslims were identical with terrorists in the subconscious of the Danish. When the Danish products were boycotted in the Muslim world, Rasmussen abruptly changed his attitude. He personally called the Muslim ambassadors for a meeting. But it was too late. The relations between the Christian and Muslim worlds had been seriously damaged.

There is another scandal and it is again in Denmark. The youth organization of People’s Party of Denmark, the rightist, if not racist, political party, organized a contest of humiliation of the Muslims’ Prophet. This party is the third largest party in Denmark and supports the government outside. Again, the aim is to insult the Muslims. Those members, who are mocking with Islam, are portraying a “typical” Muslim by hanging grenades on their belts. For Denmark, all these events must be considered as “freedom of speech.” But nobody talks about principles such as respect to faith and religion, keeping the balance of ethnic relations, and discouraging the intercultural hatred and violence. The freedom of thought openly turns out to the “freedom of insult and incitement.” As a matter of fact, the freedom of speech is just a tale. ‘The Christian Europe’ cannot control its annoyance after Turkey’s membership process has become a serious affair. There is a ‘monster’ in Europe which feels the clash of civilizations in its very veins particularly after the September 11. This monster is the monster which burned the Jews in Spain alive; the monster which could exterminate people at the hands of the Nazis because they were Gypsies, Jews or black. This monster is religionist and racist. This monster is fanatic, naughty and fully ignorant. Don’t pay attention to the science and technology cover on Europe, because the monster beneath is so strong…

***
And the Netherlands… A country seen as a fortress of liberalism and democracy… The political parties in this country are so privileged that the Dutch cannot afford to close a party which defends pedophilia and zoophilia. They say “Let everyone speak. The essence of democracy is the freedom of thought and speech.” But in the Netherlands, rejecting the Armenian claims against the Turks is a bigger mistake than even pedophilia. Three Turkish candidates were deprived to run for the elections from their party lists just because they did not agree with the Armenians. What is more, these parties, which dropped the candidacy of the three Turks, were not marginal or small ones. One was the party in power, and the other was the main leftist party. In short, it is even impossible to voice different opinions in the Netherlands, even in main current Dutch political parties.

How will the Turks in this country, whose number is about 450.000, voice their demands if political channels are closed to them?

Who will bear the responsibility if al-Qaeda says that “the Netherlands even doesn’t allow you to enter the parliament? You think differently from the Armenians but they cannot even tolerate that?”

What will the results of excluding the Turks, who are the most harmonious and peaceful Muslim minority in Europe, from the system?

AND FRANCE…
Nowadays, we have been experiencing “Armenian genocide insanity” from France to the Netherlands, from Germany to Belgium. The Armenian claims are not new. For almost a century, the Armenians have been trying to get the great powers press Turkey with the hope of getting a homeland in Anatolia. They have tried many ways: Terror, assassinations, financial aid to the terrorist organizations in Turkey, boycotting Turkish products, issuing anti-Turkey bills in various parliaments etc. But they have failed. They have failed not because Turkey was a very strong country or the Turkish lobbies have done their best to stop these attempts. It was because the Armenian claims were so weak even baseless. It was because their method was wrong. It was because slandering a whole nation was illogical by just relying on claims. It was because it was against the nature of any small or big country to judge and blame a state or a nation based on the claims of just one side. And had the Armenians been right, they would have applied to courts, not parliaments.

Despite this picture, France approved the Armenian claims (I prefer calling them “obsessive belief”) in the parliament in 2001 as if they were the historical facts. The President of France also approved the bill and the Armenian claims were legalized in France. According to these claims, the Turks slaughtered 1.5 million Armenians in 1915, that is, during the Ottoman State period. The name of this action is, they say, “genocide”. I cannot help myself but ask: Since the 1915 incidents were “genocide”, why does France pass the law as late as 2001. What have the French politicians been doing until now? For example, why didn’t they take that decision when France invaded the Ottoman territories at the end of the World War 1 and seized all the Ottoman official documents? Why didn’t they arrest and try the “criminals”? Why didn’t they investigate the Armenian claims on the spot instead of cooperating with the Armenians to kill thousands of Turks and Kurds at that time? OK, let’s assume that France was unaware of the situation because of the joy of victory, but how come the French politicians haven’t remembered the so-called “genocide” for 86 years? And didn’t they think of the 1915 Incidents while they were slaughtering the 1.5 million Algerian Arabs? Have they compared the Armenian claims with what the French soldiers have done in Africa and Asia?

We can ask more questions to France because the decision has no legal or political logic. The bill was passed in the parliament thanks to the 30-40 radical-militant pro-Armenian legislators’ insistence in the pre-election period. Other MPs, who did not want to draw the anger of 300.000 Armenian votes in France, did not even participate the voting of the bill. As a result, there was “genocide of facts” in the French Parliament, and the others just watched it.

The current step is more tragicomic. The French Parliament first issued the bill which approved the Armenian claims as true; they are now trying to criminalize to say “lie” to the lies. The French parties, which have been captured by the Armenian origin MPs and their supporters, are not aware of what impact they will have not only on Turco-French relations but also themselves and Europe.

Some rightist, religionist and racist people, like Sarkozy, support the idea of “Christian Europe”, and these people are endorsing anything which is against Turkey. Recently, the TUSIAD’s (Association of Turkish Businessmen and Industrialists) Brussels Representative has asked why he was so opposed to Turkey’s membership. His answer was “I know the Arab world very well.” Sarkozy, who is the minister of interior of France, a candidate for presidency and has been a politician for years, thinks that Turkey is an Arab country!

I have written it above: The monster which Europe nurtures inside is not only racist and religionist but also ignorant. Imagine, Mr. Sarkozy’s ‘knowledge’ on Turkey is not limited with that. He says “shall we just let the 100 million Muslim Turks to migrate Europe?” The French Minister of Interior Nicolas Sarkozy thinks that the population of Turkey is 100 million. One cannot say that he rounded the number. The discrepancy equals to three times of Greece’s population. Let’s assume that Turkey’s population is 100 million. How ignorant and militant is the one who thinks the all of the Turks will flow to the European cities once Turkey is a full member. It is obvious that Sarkozy sees himself as a Pope in the Medieval Age. He sees Turks invading Europe in his nightmares every night!

On the other hand, the leftist groups in France have been the “captive” of the Armenian constituents and lobbies. The Armenian lobby, which spends more than 100 billion dollars for the Armenian cause each year, has made this affair an industry. They have formed up a strong network consisting of universities, parliaments, companies and even movie theaters. They are using the Armenian Diaspora very well for this job. The country where the Armenian “genocide” industry has been most successful is France. But the France’s current pathetic situation is not only because of Armenians’ attempts in that country.

The most important reason for this extreme behavior of France is Turkey’s speedy progress towards full EU membership. Turkey has been breaking growth records in the last five years. It has become the 17th (or 18th) largest economy of the world. There are no obstacles for the Turkish economy to be in the top ten in the near future. Turkey has surprised the entire Europe with its reforms in the last few years. Turkey’s realization of numerous reforms in a few years was defined by the European countries as “outstanding.” The Turkish economy and the maturity of its politics were seen as sufficient in 2004 and 2005 for the EU membership, and as a result, the EU decided to start accession talks. In other words, the full membership of Turkey, a country which has been procrastinated since 1959, has become a serious issue for the EU. Turkey could be a full member if nothing is done. For the first time, a Muslim country would be a member of EU with equal rights. This scenario has been the nightmare of many people in Europe.

First, the Pope said “the Europe is Christian; Turkey should establish a union with Arabs”. These words were noted down by the Turks, never to be forgotten. This is perhaps the reason why the strongest reaction to the Pope’s words on the Prophet of Islam has come from Turkey. However, the Pope was not alone unfortunately. The German PM Angela Merkel also opposed Turkey’s membership in 2004. Though the French President Jacques Chirac ostensibly approved Turkey’s accession talks, in other occasions he said “don’t worry, many things will change until the accession talks finish and their membership depends on the results of the referendum in France.” This is a very disrespectful attitude, and in fact, it is a fraud. The French President, who promised full membership in written agreements and mobilized Turkey’s economy and politics for this aim, was thinking just the opposite in reality, and he has done everything to impede Turkey’s membership.

Chirac was unable to criticize Turkish democracy and economy, and he was unable to reverse the signatures he made. So, he wanted to use the Cyprus issue and then the Armenian issue against Turkey. The Cyprus issue is a problem which the world has been unable to solve for decades. The United Nations peacekeeping force, UNFICYP, was deployed in Cyprus in 1964, and it is still there. That is to say, France knows that conditioning Turkey’s membership to the solution of the Cyprus problem means delaying Turkey’s accession for many more decades. But the most effective way to hinder Turkey’s entry to the EU is the Armenian issue:

There are claims and counterclaims, and it is almost impossible for any party to convince the other one in this issue. The Armenians blame Turkey and Turks with one of the world’s worst and most insulting crime, genocide, by relying on statements such as “my grandfather said this, my grandmom said that”. Naturally Turkey or any country cannot admit such accusations. In such a case, conditioning Turkey’s membership to the acceptance of the Armenian claims means intentionally excluding Turkey from the EU forever. A problem which hasn’t been solved for a century cannot be solved in a short time, and anyone in the EU knows that the Armenian issue cannot be solve in couple of days or years. The Armenians are not aware of the situation.

The Armenians in the Diaspora are content with their lives. They are making money, reputation and power through the difficulties of the Armenians in Armenia. On the other hand, Armenia Armenians cannot even decide on their fate. The country is headed by a diaspora Armenian from Nagorno-Karabakh, Robert Kocharian, who is obsessed with the Turks and more territories. Mr. Kocharian is an Armenian from the Diaspora, who later obtained Armenian citizenship. He talks of nothing but blood and war. He stays in the power thanks to his discourse on creating tensions and obtaining more territories. He stays in power thanks to the militants recruited from Karabakh. He even repressed street demonstrations by using the Karabakh militants.

Even the Greeks realized that an EU-member Turkey is better than a Turkey outside the EU, but Armenians. If Turkey becomes a full member of the EU, Armenia will become a neighbor of the Union. This probably means that the border between Turkey and Armenia will be opened, and the Armenians will prosper. For the moment, there are more than 70.000 Armenians from Armenia who are living and working in Turkey. Some are babysitters, some are servants, and some others work in constructions. Most of them come to Turkey illegally or as tourists. But then, they find a job and start living in Turkey with bad conditions. They are taking care of children and houses of Turks, who have been presented to them as “the perpetrators of genocide” for the years. These Armenians are surprised of the Turks’ trust in them. These Armenians, who were afraid of being treated badly in Turkey, after a while see that being an Armenian has no advantage or disadvantage in Turkey. So, they work in Turkey and send remittances to Armenia motherland. I don’t think that 70 million Turks will emigrate to European cities once Turkey is an EU member, but I will not be surprised if the number of Armenians living in Turkey reaches at least 1 million. As a matter of fact, the population of Armenia has dropped from 3,2 million to 2-2,5 million during the Kocharian period. If Turkey becomes an EU member, this number is likely to drop to 1,5 million. In other words, what the Diaspora has wanted will come true: The Armenians will have returned to Anatolia! This is just a joke, but it is apparent that Armenia will be the most profitable country from Turkey’s accession to the EU.

IS FRANCE SINCERE?
As I have discussed before, the issue has nothing to do with the Armenians. They are only the pawns in the attempts to hinder Turkey’s membership. It is so obvious that France is not sincere in its support to the Armenian claims. When the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan asked for the withdrawal of the Armenian “genocide” bill from the French Interior Minister Sarkozy, the minister had three conditions:

1. “The Commission (proposed by Turkey for the investigation of the historical disputes between Turks and Armenians by historians) be set up of any person, not only historians,

2. Abrogate the Article 301 of the (Turkish) Penal Code, which restricts the freedom of thought in Turkey according to Mr. Sarkozy,

3. Assure the opening of Armenia-Turkey border.”

If the 1915 Incidents were really a genocide, which was legalized by the French Parliament, and if this crime is so grave that even its denial will be punished, how come Mr. Sarkozy propose such conditions to Turkey in exchange for the withdrawal of the bill? What is the relationship between Turkey’s Article 301 and “not punishing” the ones who denies the so-called genocide? Let’s say, if Turkey becomes the most democratic state in the world and if Turkey opens its borders fully with Armenia, will that change the history? What can be the relationship between the Armenian bill in the French Parliament and the participation of historians or businessmen in the joint Turco-Armenian commission set up to investigate the allegations?

It is clear that France’s priority is not recognizing Armenian claims as “genocide”, or punishing those who deny it. Their problem is neither the Armenians nor the historical facts. Their real objective is to exclude Turkey from the EU, and forcing Turkey to act under the French influence. That’s why they offer to make bargain on crucial principles like ‘genocide’ and ‘freedom of speech’.

Another indication of France’s lack of sincerity is the exclusion of scientists or researchers from the current bill. In other words, if an ordinary citizen or a politician denies the Armenian claims, he/she may be imprisoned up to five years, according to the French bill, but if a researcher, historian or an academician commits the same “crime”, he/she will not be punished at all. Is there such logic of law? If an act is a crime, it is a crime for everyone. So, can there be a rule which dictates that a professor doesn’t have to stop in the traffic if the light is red, but an ordinary citizen has to stop in red light? And if the subject in question is the biggest crime, that is, genocide, can there be such levity? If someone denies the Holocaust in France, do the authorities check his profession to punish him?

WHAT BENEFITS ARE EXPECTED?
It is surprising that those who haven’t recognized the Armenian claims as genocide for 86 years, and who haven’t considered penalizing the denial of Armenian claims for 91 years have suddenly found “the right way.” Timing is important. So, what do the French expect to receive from the bill?

Ostensibly, they want to support the Armenians. Chirac, in his last visit to Armenia, clearly stated that the Turks committed Armenian genocide. Moreover, he presented acceptance of the Armenian claims as a precondition for Turkey’s EU membership. On the other hand, Chirac has neither condemned nor criticized Armenia’s invasion of Azerbaijani territories. He only said “put a little bit more effort in solving your problems with Azerbaijan.” He definitely did not mention the Hocali Massacre (if not genocide) committed by the Armenians during the Karabakh War, or the Armenian terror in the 1970s and 1980s which claimed the lives of many Turkish diplomats. And now, the bill penalizing the denial of the Armenian claims… As one would remember, France approved the Armenian claims as a historical fact in 2001. France claims that it has fulfilled a historical justice. Secondly, Paris maintains that Turkey should open its border with Armenia and establish good neighborhood relations before entering the EU.

Despite all these policies, France’s approach doesn’t help a Turco-Armenian rapprochement at all. On the contrary, this policy intensifies the reactions in Turkey against the Armenians and undermines the credibility of France and the EU in the eyes of the Turkish public opinion. One cannot expect the Turks to be tolerant towards the Armenians, who always make intrigues against Turkey. Moreover, those who attribute the biggest crime of the world to the Turkish people must admit that this is not a good way of solving the problem. The people who have good will and are constructive don’t take one-sided decisions. Insulting is not a good way to initiate dialogue. On the other hand, French Parliament’s attempt to silence Turkish people on Armenian allegations has eroded the credibility of France and the EU in Turkey. Even the most pro-Western politician or author cannot defend the EU at the moment. Those who criticize Turkey on the issue of freedom of speech cannot explain the five years imprisonment for having a different view in France.

The EU authorities, criticizing the court decisions in Turkey, cannot explain the expulsion of three Turkish politicians from their parties in Netherlands just because of their different views on the Armenian issue. From time to time, there are people who take the Article 301 as an example. They say “you are preventing the discussion of the Armenian issue in Turkey with the Article 301.” But the Article 301 has nothing to do with the Armenian issue. The Article regulates the insults on Turkishness, and similar laws in one way or another also exist in other European countries, like Italy. Prevention of insults to a nation or individuals is a matter which has to be protected by laws. It is true that this law has been sometimes abused and that some people have been unjustly tried. Among these people are Elif Shafak and Hrant Dink. But none of these authors were found guilty on the basis of the Article 301. We definitely wouldn’t like to see them tried. But those who sue these authors are not state authorities, but “ordinary citizens”, and the courts have to consider the petitions.

The Article can be amended or a better practice can be applied. But there is no similarity between the Article and the bill that France wants to pass. Turkey is the most liberal country on the earth to discuss the Armenian issue. You cannot discuss the issue neither in Armenia, nor Switzerland nor the Netherlands. In these countries, if you claim something different than the Armenians do, you will be silenced, you will be imprisoned. You may lose your job. The state institutions may insult you for your different ideas than the Armenians. And whether you are a professor or a diplomat, the outcome is the same. The case filed against the Turkish consular general in France is a good example. Similarly, the warrant of arrest issued for the Chairman of the Turkish History Institution, Prof. Yusuf Halacoglu, in Switzerland just because Halacoglu was thinking differently than the Armenians is another example. Last year Armenia authorities imprisoned a Turkish historian when he wanted to make research in Yerevan.

The situation in Turkey, however, is completely different. You will find many pro-Armenian books in any of the bookstores in Turkey. Most of the significant Armenian language books on the issue have been translated into Turkish language and Turkish readers freely can reach the Armenian books now. Pro-Armenian scholars and authors can freely express their views on Turkish TV and radio channels. There are pro-Armenian scholars at state and private Turkish universities. The newspapers are full of Armenian approach. Under these circumstances, we can say that only Turkey in the world left to discuss freely the historical Armenian claims relations, but no where.

12 October 2006

Sedat Laciner
Sedat LACINER: Director, USAK & Davos Economic Forum Young Global Leader 2006
BA (Ankara University), MA (University of Sheffield), PhD (King’s College, University of London)

Trns. by: A. Noyan Ozkaya
Copyright © 2005 Journal of Turkish Weekly




THIS IS NOT THE ENDGAME FOR THE FRENCH BILL
On October the 12th a bill foreseeing the fining and jailing of individuals who publicly deny Armenian genocide allegations has been adopted by the French Parliament.

However the bill has not yet become law. For this to occur the French Senate must also approve the bill. Whether or not the bill takes its place on the Senate’s agenda is left largely to the whim of the French Government. The government announced that they do not take responsibility for the draft law put forth by the Socialists and if they stick to this line of thought it could mean the bill might not reach the Senate floor. However it is also possible that the impending general election could keep the government from locking horns with the Socialists. Another possibility is that the Senate could ratify the bill after a few amendments. It is expected that the bill be revised due to the fact that it is an infringement of the right of freedom of expression. When this occurs the bill must then be revaluated in the Parliament. Until consensus has been reached the bill will shuttle back and forth between the two houses. This scenario had been played out in the same way during the lead up to the 2001 bill acknowledging Armenian genocide allegations. It should be highly expected that this is to take place in the same way concerning the new bill.

When the houses are through dealing with the draft law it must then be ratified by the President, in the instance that it is not ratified a long legal process leading to the Constitutional Court will be inevitable. Although Jacques Chirac had proclaimed his neutrality on the matter he had nonetheless, disregarding criticisms, ratified the 2001 bill. When the draft finally reaches the office of the president after running the course of all the steps mentioned above it is likely that Jacques Chirac will not be in office. The strongest contenders at present are Miss Royal on the Socialist wing and Minister of the Interior Sarkozy, and there is no doubt that both of them will happily sign the bill when and if they reach presidential office.

However, even with the Presidential seal, the bill could still be taken to the Constitutional Court by way of the consensus of 60 parliamentarians and/or Senators. That this number of parliamentarians would support Turkey’s interests is a highly unlikely scenario considering the current state of events in France.

In short this isn’t the endgame, but it would not be in place to rejoice over this. As witnessed during the 2001 draft process, it should be expected that in the future a period of unprecedented requests aimed at Turkey will begin; such as asking for borders to be opened between Turkey and Armenia in order to stop the bill from becoming law.

Actually the swift ratification of the bill is in the best interest of Turkey. If this is to transpire then the opportunity to revoke this bill and object to Armenian genocide allegations in the legal sphere will arise. Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights (the Convention) pertaining to the freedom of speech, encompasses the “freedom to hold opinions”, together with the right “to receive and impart information and ideas”. The bill ratified by the French Parliament is clearly in breech of the principle of the right to hold personal opinions. In accordance with Article 33 regarding inter-state cases, Turkey has the right file a case against France at the European Court of Human Rights on the grounds that this bill breaches a provision of the Convention. Also, as stipulated in article 34 of the Convention, individuals who have suffered detriment by way of being fined and imprisoned because they stated that the Armenian genocide does not exist would be eligible to hold the French State legally accountable. On this point and in the final count it must be noted that if well prepared, the chances of winning such cases are high.

Omer Engin LUTEM
16 October 2006
IKSAREN




FRENCH JOURNALISTS CONDEMN FRANCE
Thirty-three French journalists who came to Istanbul to see famous photographer Goksin Sipahioglu’s exhibition at the Istanbul Modern entitled, “Right Time, Right Place”, condemned France’s Armenia bill.

The journalists, who arrived at Istanbul Modern after touring Istanbul, answered questions from Zaman. Goksin Sipahioglu, Ara Guler, Yasar Kemal and French ambassador Paul Paudade shared the same views about the Armenian bill.

“France made a historical mistake. We hope it will take step back,” they said.

Paul Poudade (French Ambassador): “The bill has passed. It is too early to say that it has been adopted. There is a long procedure ahead of it. I don’t think that it will be adopted. It is an unnecessary law. We are entering into a difficult period; however, we will deal with it. Why am I staying this if we will not solve this problem? The government is absolutely against the bill.”

Claire Guillot (Le Monde): “Let me first congradulate Orhan Pamuk and Turkish literature for winning the Nobel Prize. I had read “My Name is Red” and I liked it. It is a coincidence that the Armenian bill was passed in the French parliament on the same day that Orhan Pamuk received a Nobel Prize. We actually have a sufficient number of laws. There was an exhibition in June. The municipality cancelled the exhibition when controversies came up about photographs depicting Armenian history. France should not interfere in relations between countries.

Cyril Drouhet (Le Figaro): “It is a very foolish law. We actually have enough laws. I don’t think that it will be put in practice. There is a long procedure ahead of it and the bill cannot be adopted in the face of such big opposition. Even passing it in the parliament is a historic mistake for France. Why does France intervene in other countries’ affairs? Historians should deal with this issue, not the deputies. If France wants to do something, it should go and look at Algeria. The Armenians might have a problem. They should solve their problem with the country they have a problem with. It is very funny for France to hinder freedom of thought and expression.”

Annie Boulat (Cosmos Photo Agency): “It is such an odd thing that it cannot be of France’s doing. Many French people agree with me on that. We are all surprised because it was for the sake of the general elections in 2007, to garner Armenian votes. They were indeed wrong as they backed a few parliamentary members, while the president and prime minister, as well as the Senate, reject it. I never believe it will be implemented.”

Francois Siegel (Ikono Photo Agency): “We wonder if France will deal with each nation’s problems. It was approved because of the demand of a few parliamentary members. Everyone can think and say whatever they want. Is it possible to accept this as crime, especially in France? I am not pleased with my country’s attitude. I cannot understand why Armenians struggle with such a bill. Let the historians work on it. I am sure that France will be able to stop it by itself by understanding the mistake soon. But the liberal prestige will be broken.”

Jean Francois Leroy (Perpignan Festival Director): “I don’t believe that the bill will be able to become law. It shouldn’t either. We can think that it is only for the sake of the general elections. How can such a law be approved when everybody disagrees? This is an issue concerning history. Some French people bring it to the agenda. There are also fools in France as there are anywhere else. Do not worry! It cannot become law.”

16 October 2006
Zaman




France Easily Forgot Vichy Horror
Backlash against the French National Assembly’s approval of a bill on Thursday, which makes it crime to deny that an Armenian genocide occurred during World War I, continues.

In an opinion piece defending free speech in the British newspaper The Observer, the author characterized the French National Assembly’s passing of the Armenian bill as “wrong and bad,” and commented that the French had so easily forgotten the horror of the Vichy regime.

The commentary spoke of author Carmen Callil, who wrote a book about the agony the Jews suffered during the Vichy regime, and France’s subsequent convenient amnesia.

Before attempting to pass genocide denial laws in an atmosphere of censorship, the French should have to remember their previous cooperation with the Nazi party in deporting Jews, the newspaper said.

The commentary added that the Armenian bill was also aimed to “complicate” Turkey’s EU accession; a dreadful attitude for France to assume while believing that their acts were “irreproachable” during World War II.

By Foreign News Desk
October 16, 2006
zaman.com




France's Attitude Changing Copenhagen Political Criteria
Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul has criticized France for its Armenian genocide denial bill, claiming that France’s attitude has changed the Copenhagen political criteria.

Minister Gul arrived in Luxembourg yesterday to attend the “Turkey-EU troika” meeting, where Turkey’s reform process and additional protocol will be discussed.

Gul will mention his views on the Armenian genocide bill, while the EU side is expected to reiterate its request for Turkey to fulfill the additional protocol.

Current EU term president Finland’s Cyprus plan will also be on the agenda. The Turkish side will most likely stipulate improving Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus access to the outside world, as well as modifications to some points regarding the start of negotiations to open ports.

Asked if Turkey had changed its stance regarding Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, Gul said that as long as the opinions expressed do not advocate violence, people could freely express their thoughts in Turkey.

Before leaving for Luxembourg, Gul told reporters that he would remind the EU side that France’s current attitude had changed the Copenhagen political criteria.

“Turkey is not a full member of the EU and it is aware of what it is lacking. …. We are a country that is exerting extreme efforts to eliminate such shortcomings,” Gul said.

Gul informed reporters that he had communicated the concerns of Turkish Prime Minister Reccep Tayyip Erdogan to French President Jacques Chirac in a telephone conversation, emphasizing that both the international community and the EU has criticized the recent developments in France.

Turkish-French relations have suffered a great blow and France’s prestige has been damaged, Gul said, expressing optimism that French politicians would realize the severity of the situation and take appropriate measures.

In regards to Finland’s Cyprus proposal, Gul recalled that there were two sides on the island, Turkish Cyprus and Greek Cyprus, and added that a solution approved by both sides would be favored.

By Suleyman Kurt
October 16, 2006
zaman.com




Turkish Parliament to Respond to Armenian Genocide Bill
As Turkey’s protest campaign against France’s Armenian genocide denial bill continues, the Turkish Grand National Assembly will convene on Tuesday to condemn France.

Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul will inform members of parliament on the new French bill and its resulting developments, after which MP’s will be free to express their views. A statement condemning France for the bill is expected to be unanimously approved.

Turkish Prime Minister Reccep Tayyip Erdogan has warned that reactions against France must be well thought out, adding the parliamentary assembly is due to handle the issue.

Parliament speaker Bulent Arinc commented on the bill, saying it betrayed France’s basic values. Arinc assured Turkey’s response would be resolute yet moderate.

Economic Boycott to Continue
Turkey’s Central bank has an estimated 17 billion New Turkish Liras as part of France’s currency reserve. If Turkey withdraws this money from the French Central Bank and private accounts, economists predict that the French economy would suffer a great loss.

The Turkish government, which is preparing to take measures against France, could use the Central Bank as its main trump card.

By Habib Guler
October 16, 2006
zaman.com




Ankara Willing to Restrict Damage, Acts with Commonsense
Although the French National Assembly adopted a bill on Thursday that makes it a crime to deny an Armenian genocide, Turkey is refraining from engaging in serious conflict with France and acting with commonsense.

The U.S. newspaper Washington Times reported that despite Ankara’s threat of imposing sanctions on France, it is focusing on “restricting the damage.”

A Washington Post article reported that Turkey was acting with commonsense despite retaliatory threats and a general national hatred toward France.

French President Jacques Chirac and leading politicians in the country favor recognition of the genocide issue as a precondition for Turkey’s EU membership.

The newspaper suggested that this was a tactic to exclude Turkey from the European Union.

Only 106 out of a total 577 parliamentarians in the French National Assembly approved the bill.

"Turkey's foreign trade volume with France is $10 billion; 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 necessary steps," Erdogan said in a speech.

The U.S. newspaper interpreted Erdogan’s remarks as a move to calm the tension between the two countries.

October 16, 2006
zaman.com




Syrian Armenians Disapprove of French Bill
Armenians living in Syria have expressed their disapproval of a French bill that makes it a crime to deny that a genocide of Armenians was perpetrated by Ottoman Turks during World War I.

Edward Halladciyan, the son of a family forced to emigrate from Kahramanmaras to Syria, has been operating a tourism agency called Al Boustan with his Turkish friend Yusuf Isa for fifteen years.

Halladciyan believes the decision of the French parliament was purely political, expressing that the government used the Armenian issue as a political trump card.

Halladciyan, who has the Armenian flag on his desk and a picture of Sultanahmet Mosque on his wall, asserted that problems between Turks and Armenians have been left in the past.

“In Syria, we are like brothers with the Turks. It has been years since we forgot the allegations that Turkey committed genocide against the Armenians. This is an issue which dates over a century. We Armenians are used to living with Turks,” Halladciyan said.

Thinking that France is using the Armenian issue as a way to block Turkey’s EU bid, he added that if a real solution was being sought, then both sides should come together and reach a compromise through negotiations.

By Bostan Cemiloglu, Cihan News Agency, Damascus
October 16, 2006
zaman.com




Oskanian says he aims to normalize relations with Turkey
The Armenian foreign minister describes the Turkish government’s offer to set up a joint commission of historians to examine the killings as ‘dishonest’

Armenia's Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian said on Sunday he would strive to normalize relations with Turkey despite deep misgivings about the Turkish refusal to regard the 1915-17 killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks as “genocide.”

“That these events ... have so far not once been condemned or recognized is in reality a continuation of the genocide,” Oskanian was quoted as saying in an interview with the Swiss newspaper NZZ am Sonntag.

“However, as foreign minister I have a duty to look to the future and to seek and establish normal relations with Turkey,” he added.

Turkey severed diplomatic relations with neighboring Armenia after Armenian troops occupied the Azeri territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. The border gate between Turkey and Armenia has been closed for more than a decade.

Ankara now says normalization of ties depends on Armenian withdrawal from Nagorno-Karabakh as well as on progress in the resolution of a series of bilateral disagreements, including Armenia's ceasing its support of Armenian diaspora efforts to secure international recognition for an alleged genocide of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire last century.

Oskanian in Sunday's comments reiterated his country's satisfaction with the French National Assembly's vote last Thursday approving a bill that would make it a crime to deny that the Armenian killings were “genocide,” as well as a similar move by the Swiss parliament in 2003.

However, he also expressed mixed feelings about the practical value of these measures. “Whether the French or the Swiss legislation is a good starting point is hard to say,” he said, adding that recognition of the “genocide” by other countries “is not a goal in itself.”

“Armenia also has no interest in humiliating Turkey,” he said.

Oskanian also said the Turkish government's offer to set up a joint commission of historians to examine the killings was “dishonest” so long as Turkey kept its border with Armenia closed and explicitly outlawed the use of the word “genocide” in the sensitive Armenian issue.

“Our president has told [Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan that Armenia is ready to talk as soon as the borders are open and as soon as there are bilateral relations. When this is the case, an intergovernmental commission can discuss this question,” he told the newspaper.

Erdoğan last year sent a letter to Armenian President Robert Kocharian proposing the establishment of a joint committee of Turkish and Armenian academics to study the allegations, but his proposal was turned down by Kocharian, who instead offered an intergovernmental commission that would study ways of resolving problems between the two neighboring countries. Turkey says its proposal is still on the table.

October 16, 2006
ANKARA - TDN with AFP




Parliament expected to release joint declaration against French bill
Private Bahçeşehir University decides to launch a legal battle against French National Assembly decision

Members of the Turkish Parliament will convene on Tuesday to take up a special agenda addressing the passage last week of a French bill that would make it a crime to deny allegations that Armenians were subject to genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.

Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül will brief lawmakers at a general assembly session on Ankara's approach to the issue and policies to be followed from now on. Following speeches by representatives of the political parties that have seats in Parliament, a joint declaration condemning adoption of the bill is expected to be released.

Just like Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) government did, opposition parties last week strongly condemned the adoption of the controversial bill by French lawmakers.

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.

Meanwhile, an Istanbul university has announced a decision to make the necessary arrangements for those citizens of the Turkish Republic who want to file complaints to the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights against French bill.

The private Bahçeşehir University, in line with a decision made on Thursday by the university senate, decided to launch a legal battle against the French National Assembly's decision made on the same day, Thursday.

“We, as Bahçeşehir University, find the bill in question unacceptable and will start a legal battle based on the concept of ‘potential grievance.' We undertake the advocacy of 1 million persons,” the university's rector, Süheyl Batum, said in a statement released over the weekend.

Those who want to file a complaint will be able to get printed petitions from universities and bar associations as well as from Turkish missions abroad.

Bahçeşehir aims to collect 1 million petitions to be sent to Strasbourg if the bill in France eventually goes into force.

October 16, 2006
ANKARA – TDN Parliament Bureau




Diplomacy Newsline

Statue commemorating killings of Armenians stolen:

A statue commemorating the World War I era killings of Anatolian Armenians was stolen, local authorities said on Saturday, two days after French lawmakers approved a controversial bill that would make it a crime to deny that mass killings of Armenians in Turkey amounted to “genocide.”

The bronze monument, installed in front of the train station in the Paris suburb of Chaville in 2002, went missing between Friday night and Saturday morning, said authorities for the Haut-de-Seine region.

The police have not ruled out the possibility that the statue, which weighs several hundred kilograms, was stolen to be sold as scrap metal, said Stephane Topalian, who serves on the board of the local chapter of the Armenian church.

However, Topalian stressed the timing of the robbery, which came just days after France's lower house of Parliament passed a bill that would criminalize denying that the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I amounted to “genocide.”

October 16, 2006
ANK - TDN with AP




Travelers to France, beware!
Those who want to travel to France from next year on, beware!Politicians in the lower house of the French parliament have just voted in favor of a bill criminalizing denial of the 'Armenian genocide.' They are attempting to punish any expression contrary to this allegation with one year in prison and a 45,000 euro fine.

Those who want to travel to France from next year on, beware!

Politicians in the lower house of the French parliament have just voted in favor of a bill criminalizing denial of the “Armenian genocide.” They are attempting to punish any expression contrary to this allegation with one year in prison and a 45,000 euro fine.

If the bill passes the Senate and the French public mood calls for it before the elections in May 2007, it will become law as of the first half of 2007. Actually, it might be wise to issue travel warnings together with the law.

It might be prudent for an innocent admirer of the Eiffel Tower, the great Aux-en-Provence or the other jewels of this once upon a time great defender of human rights and fundamental freedoms not to take freedoms for granted and not to touch upon national sensitivities while in France.

But what strange national sensitivities nowadays France has! Doesn't this make any sense for a traveler? As far as France is concerned, he knows about the crimes committed against the Cathars between 1209 and 1229 -- the so-called Albigensian Crusade -- known as “extremely brutal even by medieval standards and the greatest mass murders prior to the Nazi era” and the crimes committed against the Algerians under French colonial rule.

Moreover, he doesn't have enough data about the events that took place during World War I at the hands of the Ottoman Empire, and he would like to learn more about the events before he makes any statement.

His lack of knowledge is completely irrelevant, and it really doesn't matter. The French parliamentarians haven't bothered to help to establish an independent historical commission and gain some knowledge about that, either. However, they felt obliged to pass the bill instead. But even if a traveler is an historian it might be better not to cast any doubt on the final verdict of the French politicians since they act as if they know everything about history and what is written in international treaties such as the 1948 Genocide Convention.

Nevertheless, we are not concerned with the ignorance or hypocrisy of French politicians here. What is at stake now is the fate of our innocent traveler. He or she should be careful choosing words if there is an interest in history and of course politics. He should definitely forget about Article 10 of the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights granting freedom of expression and the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights.

If he doesn't want to cheat his own rationale, he should eliminate France from his "to-do list" because the bill is not only in breach of the human rights convention but at the same time is contrary to the basic principles on which the EU was established. So, if a traveler doesn't want to say anything presumptuous about something he doesn't believe, he should avoid France.

Yet if he travels to France, he should be careful when talking about history, especially if he is an EU citizen. For he should not underestimate the importance of the European arrest warrant, which makes it easy and fast to hand over “requested persons” among member states. With a one-year sentence suggested by the bill for the alleged crime, the French lawmakers made sure that an uninformed traveler wouldn't be able to escape “justice” within EU borders.

Do you think I'm exaggerating? Try your luck and express yourself publicly next year after the implementation of this ridiculous law.

October 16, 2006
Sylvia Tiryaki
s.tiryaki@ iku.edu.tr




Turks abroad and the Turkish lobby
The Republic of Turkey, which will soon be 83 years old, has the world's fourth largest diaspora community living beyond its borders, after China, India and Israel. According to 2005 data, 6 million migrants of Turkish origin are living in North America, Europe and other parts of the world. Most of them, 3.6 million, live in the EU. In recent years, we have observed a significant number of young Turks going to Asian and African countries and staying there after marrying or setting up a business.

The Republic of Turkey, which will soon be 83 years old, has the world's fourth largest diaspora community living beyond its borders, after China, India and Israel. According to 2005 data, 6 million migrants of Turkish origin are living in North America, Europe and other parts of the world. Most of them, 3.6 million, live in the EU. In recent years, we have observed a significant number of young Turks going to Asian and African countries and staying there after marrying or setting up a business.

European Turks are very active in Europe's political scene. In many Western European countries, and first of all in Germany, there are many members of parliament of Turkish origin. Parallel to that success in the political scene we can also state the importance of the immigrant communities in the economic life of Europe. In the European Union, there are 92,000 entrepreneurs of Turkish origin who are investing large amounts of capital in the European economy. In recent years, the number of students coming from Turkey has been growing rapidly.

The political decisions in Europe that involve Turkey have brought the situation of the Turkish diaspora in these countries to the agenda of domestic politics. The political debate about the adoption of a new law according to which the denial of an alleged "Armenian genocide" is a crime resulted in Turkish society and organizations becoming active in the political and social life of the European and especially French political scene. As a matter of fact, there are 440,000 Turks living in France.

The analysis of the political influence of the diaspora communities in the world gives the following picture: Unlike the Chinese and the Indians, who are very passive in politics, the Armenians, Greeks and Jews are very active in the political process. They have very effectively organized lobbying activities. The common property of these three communities is the religious factor in their organizational behavior. The diaspora organizations that do not have the religious factor in its matrix are not as strong as the organizations with the religious component.

The adoption of the new law about the Armenian genocide on Oct. 12, 2006 illustrated not the weakness of the Turkish diaspora communities but rather the strength of the Armenian community in French politics. It is difficult to forecast the future of this bill because despite parliament's approval, its definitive adoption has not yet been decided. Parallel to this we can observe some similar developments in Holland, where from now on parliamentary candidates of Turkish origin must accept the fact of an Armenian genocide in 1915. As a result, there has been a wave of protests within the Turkish community in the Netherlands, where the Armenian diaspora is relatively weak.

In such countries as France and Germany, the Turks organize themselves first of all as members of mosque organizations. More than 2,300 mosques in Germany are also members of mosque and other religious umbrella organizations. Meanwhile, with the strengthening of the religious institutions of Turks in Germany, we can simultaneously observe a weakening of organizations with no religious affiliation. One of the most important characteristics of the Turkish community in Germany is the differing political involvement by various age groups. A majority of young people is very politically engaged, and we can observe political indifference and even apathy on the part of the older generation. Overall, we can state that despite the active political engagement of the young generation the organizational behavior of the Turkish community is not efficient enough. There is still much to do in this area.

The balance of the 45-year history of the Turkish migration to the EU and the United States is that the Turkish community is indeed very politically engaged and relatively well integrated, but the political influence of this community is still not strong enough in these societies. The developments in France have demonstrated this quite clearly.

October 16, 2006
Faruk Şen
www.tdn.com.tr




Turkey and the EU: the Challenge ahead
An exclusive farewell article by Sir Peter WESTMACOTT, the British ambassador to Turkey

There's a lot of talk these days of a train wreck later this year bringing Turkey's negotiations for membership of the EU to a shuddering halt. Is this exaggeration? Or just brinkmanship? Neither, I fear. The danger is real.

Recently, the mood on both sides has deteriorated. Europeans fear that further enlargement will threaten their jobs. Some of their governments want priority to be given to making the EU and its institutions work better. Migration, legal and illegal, is at the top of everyone's political agenda. So is the obscenity of terrorism carried out in the name of Islam. Many in the EU are wondering whether it isn't time to call a halt to the admission of new members.

For their part, Turks who have for years been overwhelmingly in favour of joining the EU are beginning to ask themselves whether it's worth trying to join a club which may not want them after all; and in which some of those asking for greater freedom of expression in Turkey are ready to criminalise those who deny the Armenian “genocide” of 1915. They wonder whether they really want to carry on with an accession process which has no guaranteed outcome, and which keeps running up against the Cyprus problem -- a problem which the Turkish side did its best to resolve by backing the Annan plan in 2004.

The immediate risk to the accession process comes from Turkey's continuing failure to implement the so-called Ankara Protocol it signed in July last year, by opening its ports to the ships of the Republic of Cyprus.

Turkey and the EU see the problem very differently. Ankara says it cannot and will not comply until the EU honours the commitment it gave to end the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots after the Greek Cypriots rejected the Annan plan. But the EU sees no valid link between the two issues. Turkey's agreement to implement the Ankara Protocol was unconditional. The reward was the start of negotiations on Oct.3, 2005.

The challenge is to reconcile these conflicting positions. Both sides need to understand the other's concerns better. Turkey's commitment to extend its Customs Union obligations was unconditional, and part of the basis on which the EU agreed to open negotiations. But Europeans need to understand the deep sense of injustice in Turkey over the admission of a divided Cyprus to the EU after the Greek Cypriots had rejected the Annan Plan, and over what Turks perceive to be continuous pressure from the EU ever since to make them pay the price of that rejection.

At the same time, Turkey needs to understand the European perspective better. Her insistence that the EU honours its commitments to the Turkish Cypriots after the strong backing which they -- and Turkey -- gave to Kofi Annan's settlement plan is understandable. But she must understand that none of the 25 Member States accepts the linkage which Turkey has established between the two issues; and that the EU lays great store by two basic principles: member state solidarity and the need for candidate countries to abide by the rules of membership.

The Finnish Presidency is currently working on some ideas which, with sufficient support and political will, could both allow the Turkish Cypriots the direct trade with the outside world which the EU has promised them, and help Turkey to open up its ports. Anyone who cares about Cyprus, and relations between Turkey and the EU, should wish the Finns well. If their approach fails, the EU will hold Turkey to account for its unfulfilled commitments, with the risk that the accession process -- at least in part -- will be suspended.

This would be dangerous. The negotiations, once stalled, would be very hard to re-start, not least because the argument over Cyprus would remain unresolved. All the more reason for renewing efforts to find a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem.

What will it take to avoid such an outcome, should the Finns' best efforts fail to do the trick? Turkey's friends, not least the UK, will do what they can to help. But they need convincing arguments.

In fact, Turkey has a great story to tell. After decades of under-achievement, enormous progress has been made in the last few years. Reforms are advancing. Respect for human rights is growing. Civil society is on the march. State economic enterprises are giving way to a new culture of enterprise. With economic growth and unprecedented levels of foreign investment, Turkey is becoming a major force in the global economy. What other capital city has built a new airport in 2 years flat -- more than a year ahead of schedule?

Much can be made of these and Turkey's many other achievements. Public opinion, in both Turkey and the EU, should hear Turkish political leaders of all persuasions explaining why they support EU membership, and why adapting Turkey's laws, practices and institutions to European norms is worth doing in its own right.

For its part, the government needs to keep up the momentum of reform and modernisation. The spate of recent legal cases means that particular attention must be paid to the sections of the Penal Code which restrict freedom of expression.

Turkey must also show the Europeans that they have nothing to fear and everything to gain from Turkish membership. Instead of reviving the ghosts of the Treaty of Sevres, or misrepresenting the Treaty of Lausanne, political leaders should draw with confidence on the Republic's achievements, and show the Europeans what it has to offer: business opportunities, a skilled labour force, effective partnerships in countering the illegal drugs trade, human smuggling, organised crime, and terrorism; a significant contribution to the EU's foreign and security policy; above all, the prize of a prosperous, successful, self-confident secular democracy of 70 million people, most of them Muslims, living in a transparent, liberal market economy governed by the rule of law, providing a much-needed force for stability and progress in one of the world's most turbulent regions. In other words, an opportunity that's too good to miss -- for any of us.

Those who wonder whether the effort is worth making in the face in the face of all the difficulties should remember British Prime Minister Harold Wilson's response when the UK's application for EU membership was vetoed by President de Gaulle: “We will not take no for an answer.”

October 16, 2006
Sir Peter WESTMACOTT
British ambassador to Turkey - TDN Guest Writer




From Elytis to Pamuk
It was the end of 1978; it was evening, in the small two-room flat of Odysseas Elytis in the aristocratic neighborhood of Kolonaki, in the center of Athens. I was there as an old friend. I had originally met him in 1968, when as a high school student I had interviewed him for our school magazine. I then became something of an aspiring poet myself and was paying regular weekly visits to the grand poet, seeking advice and taking whatever he told me very seriously.

But in 1978, my poetic inspiration had almost dried out. I had left Greece to move to Europe, but I had kept my habit of paying homage to that reclusive poet every time I was in Athens. That particular evening I found him speaking on the phone. He opened the door, let me sit and continued his conversation. He was speaking to his close friend and mentor, Nikos Gatsos, a poet of the same age, with less but powerful poetic oeuvre, who devoted his poetic inspiration primarily to writing lyrics for the songs of Manos Hatzidakis. Gatsos may not be an illustrious literary figure of the likes of George Seferis or Elytis, the two Greek Nobel Laureates for literature, but he was certainly passing his strict verdict on their poetry. And they both obediently listened to him.

But the conversation I overheard that evening at Elytis' flat was not about poetry. It was about the Nobel Prize in Literature. It was already 15 years since George Seferis had been awarded the Nobel in 1963, a first for a Greek, and the rumors circulating in Athens had it that the wise old men in Sweden were again contemplating the possibility of giving the prize to a Greek. Gatsos, who was the subject of all the literary gossip in Athens those days, was informing Elytis that his name was among the ones that would be accepted favorably. After all, Greece had emerged from a dark phase, a seven-year dictatorship, and democracy was more or less established and Greek intellectuals were still much in fashion in Europe as products of a society that had resisted an oppressive military regime.

The conversation became more detailed. Gatsos apparently was informing Elytis that once he is proposed he will himself have to submit his papers by a certain date -- a few months later -- if he wanted to go through the long procedure. Elytis, who always hated publicity and bureaucracy, was getting increasingly frustrated by the procedural complexities. “Ritsos is applying every year,” Gatsos apparently told Elytis, referring to the great communist Greek poet Yiannis Ritsos, who was rejected nine times by the Nobel committee. “I hate the paperwork. If they like me as a poet, they should choose me,” Elytis told me after he put the phone down. “What would you do with the money?” I asked. “I wouldn't know, but I might buy a house in Kiffisia,” he had said, referring to the beautiful green suburb in the north of Athens.

I left his flat a little later and Athens after a few days. I forgot about that evening's conversation. Anyway, I had never believed that Elytis would have got the Nobel. He was a great poet but difficult to translate. Anyway it was too soon after Seferis. Why would they give it to a Greek again?

Elytis was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in November 1979. I was in London, and I saw the ceremony on TV with Elytis accepting the prize from the Swedish king. I read that the official justification for awarding him the prize was "for his poetry, which, against the background of Greek tradition, depicts with sensuous strength and intellectual clear-sightedness modern man's struggle for freedom and creativeness.”

The following year, the Soviet Union awarded Ritsos the Lenin Prize. When he won it, he declared, "This prize; it's more important for me than the Nobel."

Of course, the importance of literature in our lives has not changed since then. I am sure, though, that Orhan Pamuk did not himself have to go through the frustrating procedure to compile his application dossier for Stockholm. The literary agent and publicist profession was completely unknown among the Greek intelligentsia of that time. But somehow I think that even if they knew of it, those hard old writers would have viewed it with contempt.

October 16, 2006
Ariana Ferentinou
www.tdn.com.tr




Ankara's EU progress, Armenian bill to dominate Troika talks
Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul is braced for discussions during today's European Union-Turkey Troika meeting with three key issues on the agenda, including Ankara's progress in talks, the Finnish plan and the French Parliament's bill on the Armenian genocide claims.

Gul and senior EU officials will evaluate the future prospects of Turkey's membership bid, progress made in implementing reforms, the screening process in the year since the beginning of talks and the latest Greek and Greek Cypriot block during the key meeting which will is being held in Luxembourg.

The plan proposed by Finland, which holds the rotating EU presidency, aimed at avoiding a possible "train crash" in Turkey's membership talks, will also dominate the meeting.

The Finnish plan foresees the opening of the port of Famagusta (Magosa) in Northern Cyprus under EU auspices in return for the Turkish Parliament's approval of the Ankara protocol, which paves the way for the opening of Turkish ports and harbors to the Greek Cypriots. In line with the plan, while the Turkish Cypriots would conduct direct trade from Magosa, the Varosha (Maras) region, which is currently under Turkish Cypriot control, would be under United Nations control.

Speaking to reporters ahead of his departure from Turkey, Gul told reporters that Turkey welcomes all views proposed with good will, referring to the Finnish plan. However, Gul stressed that this doesn't mean "Turkey accepting the unacceptable."

Underlining that Turkey is not a directly concerned side in the Cyprus dispute, but that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) is, Gul urged the EU to discuss the latest initiatives with Turkish Cypriot leaders to proceed in the Cyprus peace process. The foreign minister also praised the latest visit of TRNC President Mehmet Ali Talat to Brussels as a "positive" development.

While Gul is expected to underline the need to find solution to the Cyprus problem under UN auspices, he will also urge the Union to end the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots, which could pave the way for Ankara to open its ports and harbors to the Greek Cypriots through implementing the Ankara protocol.

The meeting is important since, according to sources, the results could affect the final touches to the EU's progress report, set to be released on Nov 8.

The Turkish foreign minister will also bring the French Parliament's recent approval of a bill introducing prison terms and fines for those who question the Armenian genocide claims to discussions during the Troika meeting.

During the press conference before his departure, Gul said that he would tell EU officials that by passing the Armenian bill the French had already altered the Copenhagen criteria. Lamenting the current state of Turkish-French relations, Gul said, "I hope France will take the necessary measures in order not to shake the already shaken relations and its own image."

According to sources, besides expressing Turkey's concerns on the passage of the bill by the French Parliament, stressing that the bill limits freedom of expression and also violates the EU's basic principles and its pressure on Ankara to amend Article 301 of the new Turkish Penal Code (TCK), Gul is expected to praise how influential EU officials, including Rehn, have opposed the bill.

Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, German Foreign Minister Frank Walter-Steinmeier, whose country will take over the rotating EU presidency from Finland in January, European Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn and European foreign policy chief Javier Solana will be among the participants of the key meeting. In the wake of latest move by Greece and Greek Cyprus to block the opening of new chapters in Turkey's EU talks, Foreign Minister Gul is also expected to visit Greece late next month to evaluate the latest developments with Greek officials, the Greek Foreign Ministry announced on Friday.

The New Anatolian / Ankara
16 October 2006




The French decision: Rationality of stupidity?
The expected result has been taken in the French parliament with 119 yes votes for the ‘’Genocide law’’ whereas 448 French parlamentaries were not present in the parliament. This is indeed very black day for French democracy. If it is so important to accuse a nation, being responsible for Genocide it should be a historic votum not like this. The Armenian diaspora is happy but nothing has been achieved. The critics all over the world to the french parliament decision and to the french politicians is actually something what Turkey could not achieve by paying huge lobbiying expenses. Thanks got , in the world there is a common sense and the French Parliament was not making a good image on this very day 12 of October.

The Turks are interesting people. Not the Armenians but theOttomans and modern Turks paid a great importance to the French culture and political values. Since 19th century, Turkey was taking France as the leader of enlightment and secularism and revolutionary ideas with naitonalism.French culture is very deep in Turkey not only the mother of the Sultan Mahmut the Second was a french woman and he was speaking french as a mother tongue but also the Freench language was the lingua franca also among the Turkish intellectuals as well as politicaly oppressed Ottoman intelligentsia who found an intellectual home in paris in the eintire 19th and 20 century. Even the state founder Atatürk was very much impressed by the french political and cultural values and sent thousand of the students of the new republic to study in France. The Galatasaray Lyceee and now Galatasaray University are the best examples of this cultural interaction. The Turks paid a very high respect to the french intellectuals and politicians and all the French classics are translated in to Turkish language after the Turkish republic has been established.

The entire reform process in the 19th century was carried out also by the French contribution even when Ottoman empire was fighting against Russia in Crimea, it was french army together with Great Britain who came to help to the ‘’sick man of Europe’’ in those years from 1853-56. History is interesting, it was Suleiman the magficiant who helped actualy to the French King Francois the first and even their emperor Napolean accepted the political and mlitary power of the Ottomans and wanted even to be an Ambassador in Istanbul.

The Turks became the target of the french imperialism and colonialism in the 19th and early 20th century. When the french army occopied the southern part of Turkey, the cities Urfa, maraş and Antep delivered a great resistance to the French occupation where the Armenian subjects of the Ottoman sultan were collobarating with the French occupiers in the french uniforms. French government was also among the first few govewrnments which recognised the government in Ankara in 1921 and started diplomatic relations.

The decolonisation period from 1945 to 1962 saw atrocities and genocides od the french army in a way that could be read in the book of Peter Shall Latour with the title’’ the death in rice field’’. What French soldiers have done in the Indo China are cewrtainly accepted by the french intellectuals and politicians but the fact remain that France is responsible for the death of thousand of innocent civilian people too during this decolonisation period. The biggest mistake of modern Turkish history has been taking side on the French and British Army during the Suez Cahnnel cirisis in 1956 which rightly created an anti-Turkish feelings among the Arab intelllectuals. Also in 1958 Turkey stand by to France in the UN decision concerning the Algier. The revolution in Algier lasted even longer than the American independence War and more than 1 million Algerians lost their lives. Turkish government supported the French position with the intention to keep Europes and the West security in tact. Now, the Turks are not aloowed to say antyhing to the decision of the French parliament because they supported wrong party. Yet, the nations make many mistakes but in 1975 after Turkey intervened in Cyprus, the French politics supported the Greek politicis because Mr. Karamanlis was in exile in Paris. The french president Valery Giscardasdein made it possible together with the German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt that Greece should be taken as soon as possible in the European Economic Union (before it became the EU). When Turkey was attacked in the UN by the french permanent representative so harshly than Turkish ambasador to the UN Osman Olcay responded calmly saying, Mr. Ambasador for how many mirage jet fighter selling busniess you sold your soul to the Greek government.

Most probably, because of the respect for french philosphy, culture and politics the Turks were realy polite not to say anything to the French politicians also in recent years. But since October 12,2006 France lost a big nation admiring French culture and philosphy. How the certain french politicians can be so shortsighted is not the responsibility of the Turks but rather French nation. France should not expect big reactions in economic sense. It is not economic values which are destroyed but rather feelings to a great nation France which made so many values truly global. It is not political decision which made so some thousand s of diaspora Armenians happy but rather to distort the history with this wrong decision. The Turks will not admire the French anymore and this is not limited to the Turks only in Turkey but the enitre Turkish and islamic world. We the Turks whe have apolized our wrong doing to the Algerians when late president Turgut Özal visited this country in the late 1980’s.

The french decison created a very long lasting psychological wound in the heart of the Turkish nation. If the politicians like Mr. Sarkoszy who are even not yet elected and taking Turkey as a political tool for domestic purposes, make a big mistake. I do remember one of his advisers Alexander del Val who has written the book ‘’Turkey’s dance with the West’’ in our common appearance in a debate in the La Sapienza Universitaet in Rome. He was spaeking about a Turkey which was not real and he hated Kemal Atatürk in a way that it was not academic anymore. If the young french intellectuals are like this than not Turkey but Europe and the world will have a french problem. In this debate, I said only, it not my country what you describe. I congratulate you that you distort history so. You may not agree with all but you have to understand. To undertand does not mean to accept. However, his statement was also rejected by all Italian intellectuals who were there present. My point was, with this type of intellectual decadence and behaviour only French culture will lose. We the Turks are not responsible for that if the otherside is blind and does not have any interest to understand. Later on, I thought, why the young French intellectuals have this attitude. I did found the answer in the book of the great French political scientist Alfred Grosser’s book ‘Wie anders ist Frankreich’’, (How different is France?)Verlag Beck, 2005, ISBN 3 406 52879 I.
At least, I do understand now why the French parliament has taken this decision but I do not accept this. As Grosser explains, it is the French way which reminds me to Frank Sinatra ‘’everyone has its own way’’. Turks enjoy now the international scenery and the French politics has to pay the price in the long run. The hürriyet Daily from the October 12 explained everything: stupidite!!!!

Huseyin Bagci
bagci@metu.edu.tr
16 October 2006




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?

By Kadir Dikbas
Zaman, Turkey
Oct 14 2006




A PRISM HELD TO TURKEY

Mystic, kaleidoscopic novel by writer often compared to Pamuk

The Gaze
By Elif Shafak; translated by Brendan Freely
MARION BOYARS BOOKS; 264 Pages; $14.95 PAPERBACK

Orhan Pamuk, some say, is writing Turkey. Writing books, too, but mostly crafting his country's identity right before our astonished Western eyes.

While there's some truth to that -- Pamuk himself admits that Turkey had few very prominent writers a generation or two ago --he's certainly not doing it alone. Elif Shafak, his most talented contemporary, provides a type of insight into Turkey's spiritual bloodlines that Pamuk often does not. Funnily enough, Shafak, the daughter of a Turkish diplomat, born in France and educated in Spain, professes that she never felt quite at home in Turkey anyhow.

Like Istanbul itself, Shafak is multicultural, multivalent, multi-ethnic. At 35, she has already lived many lives away from Istanbul, in Germany and Jordan as well as France and Spain (currently, she's an assistant professor at the University of Arizona). Her characters are Turkish, Siberian, American, Spanish, Armenian, Jewish, young, old, ageless, Eastern, Western and sometimes none of the above. Even her prose circles endlessly, every last syllable tumbled against its fellows to an almost blinding shininess.

Her most recent English release, "The Gaze," is set in Istanbul (and Russia and France and two other centuries), but for Shafak it's standard issue -- it's disjointed, and it's dazzling.

Which is not to say it's perfect. Bedazzlement is not clarity. Nor is it very satisfying, nor does it preclude frustration.

Good thing, then, that for the most part Shafak knows what she's doing. A very good thing, as "The Gaze" splits itself along two rather convoluted lines. In one, a morbidly obese anonymous bulimic woman lives with her lover, a dwarf named B-C. The two dress in drag every so often and leave their apartment for the express purpose of being seen, punishing themselves and others for looking. In the other, an immortal faceless man recruits two women, one impossibly ugly and one impossibly beautiful, and stages a fantastical circus in 19th century Istanbul. His performances are for single-sex audiences, focusing on the differences in the ways men and women see -- and by seeing, damage -- themselves and each other. The lovers' sections are further fractured by entries from the Dictionary of Gazes, B-C's massive tome-in-progress of Turkish words related to sight. Also included are extended dream sequences and flashbacks of childhood trauma, narrated by the obese woman. The circus section includes lengthy jaunts to 19th century France and 17th century Siberia via folklore.

Complicated enough? Shafak's style is repetitive, supersaturated and usually entertaining, but at times heavy-handed. "The Gaze's" structure is similarly complex. Its twin plots are at first so rigidly separated that when they finally merge, it's like witnessing a little literary miracle of life, inspiring and confusing all at once. What a trick she pulls -- the book's ending lays bare the beginning of its creation. This is the way Shafak works: She piles it on and piles it on, and then, just when you feel you've been buried alive, she yanks it all away and you get to see heaven.

Shafak herself is deeply spiritual, if not religious. Her first novel, "Pinhan," which has not been released yet in English, received a Turkish prize for mysticism and transcendentalism in literature.

The narrative structure of another novel, "The Flea Palace," corresponds to the architecture of an apartment building. It's the most accessible of her less linear work. "The Gaze" was published in Turkey in 1999 and released in the United States after "The Saint of Incipient Insanities." "The Bastard of Istanbul" was released in Turkey in 2005 and will be published in the United States by Viking in January.

Both "The Saint of Incipient Insanities" and "The Bastard of Istanbul" were written in English, a move perceived by many nationalist Turks as a betrayal of what Shafak calls Turkey's language-cleansing project, a state-sponsored purge of tens of thousands of old or foreign words from Turkish. As "The Gaze's" complex Dictionary attests, Shafak pays more attention to her terminology than almost any other writer. For example:

"ayna (mirror): The odalisques in the harem couldn't get their fill of looking at their unsurpassed beauty in the mirrors that had been brought from Venice. Their greatest desire was for the Sultan to see what the mirror showed."

As "The Gaze" so idiosyncratically probes, a mirror's real magic --and its danger -- is not at its surface but in the depths of the person reflected in it. Shafak's narrator hates how others see her, but her shame is achingly deep, expressed through both her eating disorder and her relationship with B-C. "Love is a corset," she says.

"In order to understand why it lasts such a short time you have to be exceedingly fat."

As such piercing reflection attests, two factors, shame and honesty, determine the crystallization or destruction of identity in "The Gaze." But the narrator's search for an intact self represents a nearly universal process. It's one that occurs in the relationship of self to body, in the soul, on the page, in families, marriages, communities. The relationship of contemporary Turkish writers to Turkey, to each other and to themselves is also one mediated by individual honesty and collective shame. What do I admit? That the Ottoman Empire committed acts of genocide? How much trouble will I get in for admitting it? What does Turkey want the rest of the world to see? Do I care? What is Turkey? Is it Eastern or Western? Can it be both? Istanbul is a jeweled city; Istanbul is a rotting city. It is here, between mortification and pride, where Turkish writers are often at the mercy of their country's more defensive instincts.

"The Bastard of Istanbul" mentions the 1915 massacre of hundreds of thousands of Armenians by the Turks. It was for those mentions that Shafak was recently accused of violating Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, which provides grounds for as much as three years of imprisonment for "insulting Turkishness." In December, Pamuk was charged under Article 301 for remarks he made about the Armenian genocide to a Swiss magazine.

He was the keynote speaker at this year's PEN/International World Voices festival; according to the organization's notes on Turkey, dozens of Turkish writers have faced similar charges, though most have not been jailed. Article 301 is one of the reasons Turkey has not yet been admitted to the European Union. Imprisoning your writers --to put it bluntly -- looks pretty bad. Pamuk's charges were dropped in January, the week the EU began its scrutiny of the Turkish Penal Code. Shafak's were dropped in September, six days after the birth of her first child.

Stylistically, the two novelists are not often compared, though both have produced a number of intricate puzzles. In novels such as "Snow" and "My Name Is Red," Pamuk makes much of suspense, deception and stories within stories.

Shafak, too, loves structural conceit, masquerades and hide-and-seek.

Pamuk's prose is much more reserved than Shafak's; in "Istanbul: Memories and the City," he admits he has a taste for monochromatics, the exposed grays of Istanbul's wooden palaces, the sooty cobbles, the purity of the snow, while her "Gaze" shatters that same city and shovels the pieces into a giant psychedelic kaleidoscope.

Still, reading Shafak and Pamuk side by side is a joyful project. For example, in "The Gaze's" Dictionary of Gazes, there's an entry on "Pamuk Prenses" -- Snow White. And in "Snow," Pamuk writes about Reat Ekrem Kocu, the first native of Istanbul to make an encyclopedia of the city's spectacles.

These small pleasures -- of which there are hundreds, despite Shafak and Pamuk's hugely different styles -- signify that as a collective, this new literary Turkey possesses an aesthetic richness to match its sociopolitical complexities.

Pamuk lives in Istanbul, in the same apartment building in the Nicantaci district his father and uncle built in 1951. Shafak splits her time between Tucson and Turkey. She writes in two languages and calls neither her mother tongue.

But in an increasingly hybrid world, it's individual courage, not blood, that ought to determine allegiances -- and talent that ought to subvert them all. Brave, gifted, Elif Shafak is an international gem.

Anne Julie Wyman is a writer in Palo Alto.

Reviewed by Anne Julie Wyman
San Fransisco Chronicle
Oct 15 2006


ARMENIAN GENOCIDE BILL HIT FRANCE LIKE "BOOMERANG" - TURKISH PREMIER
Anatolia news agency, Turkey
16 Oct 06

Istanbul, 16 October: "The draft law which was adopted by French
national assembly and envisages denial of so-called Armenian genocide
as crime returned to France like a boomerang," said Turkish Prime
Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan who attended a dinner in Istanbul on
Sunday [15 October].

"Now everybody in the world is condemning France," he added.

Erdogan noted: "What France is doing does not coincide with world of
freedoms. France is claiming that it is the pioneer of freedoms. But
on the other hand, it is violating freedom of expression."

"The draft law returned to France like a boomerang. Now everybody in
the world is condemning France, even its own people," he added.




TURKISH OFFICIAL RETURNS FRENCH MEDAL IN PROTEST OVER ARMENIAN GENOCIDE BILL
Anatolia news agency, Turkey
16 Oct 06

Ankara, 16 October: Higher Education Board (YOK) Chairman Prof Dr Erdogan Tezic returned "Commandeur" medal of merit which was presented to him by French President Jacques Chirac (two years ago), as a reaction to the adoption (by French national assembly) of a bill on so-called Armenian genocide.

YOK stated on Monday [16 October] that Tezic returned "Commandeur" medal of merit which is one of the highest ranks of Legion d'Honneur and presented to him on 17 September 2004.

"As a reaction to French national assembly's adopting the bill making a crime the denial of so-called Armenian genocide, Tezic, the only owner of Commandeur medal in Turkey, sent back the medal to Chirac together with a letter.

This medal, which was started to be presented on Napoleon I era to very few people in the world, is returned for the first time back to France," stated YOK.

In his letter to Chirac, Tezic says although it was stated that the draft was proposed by parliamentarians, and the government has nothing to do in this issue, President Chirac expressed that Turkey committed so-called Armenian genocide during his visit to Armenia, thus it was obviously confirmed that this idea is a state policy of France.

Tezic wrote that he is sending back the medal as this issue (acknowledgment of so-called Armenian genocide) has become a state policy of France.




TURKEY SAID SCEPTICAL ON CHIRAC'S ASSURANCE ON ARMENIAN GENOCIDE LAW
TRT 2 television, Ankara,
16 Oct 06

[Studio announcer] A cautious approach is maintained on the impression President Chirac created during his telephone conversation with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the effect that he will not sign the law on the so-called Armenian genocide claims. Speaking on the matter after the Council of Ministers meeting today, Government Spokesman Cemil Cicek said that such a bill reaching this stage is enough for us to be sceptical.

[Cicek] Esteemed Chirac is in office today. But, he might not be there tomorrow. Someone else might be in his office. The matter is not one that will exist for only day or a week. We have to closely follow it. We have to completely remove the lie. We have to inform everyone that it is a lie. So, we cannot ignore the problem just because such a statement has been made. In other words, we cannot view such an individual statement as a guarantee.




FRENCH POLICE MYSTIFIED AFTER THEFT OF ARMENIAN GENOCIDE MONUMENT
Agence France Presse -- English
October 15, 2006 Sunday

Police said on Sunday that they had no leads following the theft of an Armenian genocide monument in a southwestern Paris suburb the previous night.

The 300 kilogram (660 pound) bronze statue was stolen two days after the French national assembly voted to make denial of the Armenian genocide illegal, but a connection between the two events has not been established.

"We have no idea if this is a political statement or simply crooks wanting to resell the metal. Either way, it is a despicable act," Jean Levain, Mayor of Chaville, told AFP on Sunday.

Police in Chaville, Hauts-de-Seine, were expected to view on Monday tapes from security cameras at the location where the crime occurred.

There was no vandalism or message at the scene, the municipality said.

The Armenian community in Chaville was "shocked and outraged", said Hirant Norcen, vice-president of the Cultural Association of the Armenian Church in Chaville.

"Whatever the reason for the theft, it is still unacceptable," Norcen said.

A silent march lasting several minutes after a mass and the laying of a wreath were organised for Sunday midday.

Jean-Jacques Guillet, a regional assembly member, expressed his "indignation" and declared that "the irresponsible barbarism which violated this symbol of remembrance should be punished ruthlessly."

The Armenian community gave the monument, valued by the municipality at 50,000 euros (60,000 dollars), to the city in 2002 in memory of the 1915-1917 massacres of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks.




FRENCH FIRMS SET TO SUFFER FROM TURKISH ANGER OVER 'GENOCIDE' BILL
by Burak Akinci

Agence France Presse -- English
October 15, 2006 Sunday 3:20 AM GMT

With perhaps an eye on Turkey's precarious bid to join the European Union, Turkish officials have so far rejected calls for an out-and-out boycott of French goods to protest a bill making it a crime to deny Turks committed genocide against Armenians in World War I.

But the government is still weighing other responses which may hit French firms, from blocking the country's defence and energy companies from bidding for multi-million euro (dollar) contracts to the more symbolic, such as lawmakers replacing their official Peugeot cars.

And although an official ban is unlikely, consumers and businesses are set to cold-shoulder French goods, nearly five billion euros (6.25 billion dollars) worth of which entered Turkey last year.

Last Thursday the French National Assembly, the lower house, passed a bill making it a crime to deny that the 1915-1917 massacres of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks constituted genocide.

The bill, which stipulates a prison sentence of up to three years and a fine of up to 45,000 euros, must be approved by the French upper house and by President Jacques Chirac before it becomes law.

The result has been widespread dismay, not only in Turkey -- several hundred people rallied outside France's consulate in Istanbul Saturday -- but also from French historians and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

Turkey 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.

But it refuses to accept this was genocide.

Armenians, who constitute a sizeable minority in France, say up to 1.5 million of their forbears were slaughtered in orchestrated killings, which they maintain can only be seen as genocide.

In 2005 France and Turkey exchanged goods worth more than eight billion euros, and French imports to Turkey were worth 4.7 billion euros.

Commercial ties between the two countries run deep. Some 250 French companies have strong links with Turkey stretching back many years.

Carmaker Renault, for example, employs hundreds of people at a factory in the northwest of the country.

As a result Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, together with the country's more liberal newspapers, has appealed for calm and not to launch a campaign which might end up hurting Turks more than the French.

"What do we have to win or lose by boycotting products? ... We should consider that with a great deal of caution," Erdogan said on Friday, adding that his government would proceed with calm.

Lutfu Yenel, head of the Turkish affiliate of French telecoms group Alcatel, said he was astounded by calls for a boycott of his company.

But although an official ban is unlikely, Turkish consumers and businesses are expected to vent their anger by not buying French.

The country's consumer organisation, for instance, has said that a boycott would begin at the 500 petrol stations in Turkey owned by France's Total.

Every week there would be an appeal to boycott products from a new French firm until the genocide bill is scrapped, the organisation threatened.

"From today onwards, we are going to boycott every week a French brand and show our reaction in a language that France can understand," said Bulent Deniz, the group's president.

In some commercial centres in Istanbul, Turkey's largest city, shops were calling on Turks not to buy French -- although it was business as usual at an outlet of French chain Lacoste in the city.

Ankara's union of traders has also decided to post on billboards in the capital pictures of products that will be boycotted such as perfumes and cosmetics, the group's head Mehmet Yiginer said.

And across the country, commercial groups and businessmen have called on their fellow citizens to cold-shoulder French brands.




HUNDREDS RALLY IN ISTANBUL AGAINST FRANCE'S ARMENIAN GENOCIDE BILL

Agence France Presse -- English
October 14, 2006

Several hundred people rallied outside France's consulate in Istanbul on Saturday to protest at the French parliament's support for a bill that would make it a crime to deny that Turks committed genocide against Armenians in the early 20th century.

Riot police stood by in the city centre district of Beyoglu for demonstrations organised separately by left-wing and right-wing nationalist parties.

Brandishing Turkish flags, the left-wing nationalists called on Turks to boycott French products. The right-wingers also accused the Turkish government of not responding forcibly enough.

The French parliament on Thursday approved on first reading a bill that would make it a jailable offence to deny that the 1915-17 massacres of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks constituted genocide.

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

Turkey, which strongly rejects the use of the term genocide in the sensitive Armenian issue, strngly criticised the vote, saying France had dealt "a heavy blow" to longstanding bilateral relations.

The government has threatened retaliatory measures if the bill becomes law.





JACQUES CHIRAC NEVER APOLOGIZED TO TURKISH PRIME MINISTER
Public Radio, Armenia
Oct 16 2006

In a phone talk with the Prime Minister of Turkey Rejeb Tayyib Erdogan the President of France Jacques Chirac repeated the words about the recognition of the Armenian Genocide he uttered during his state visit to Armenia, Press Service of Elisee Palace told "ArmInfo.

The press service refuted the information disseminated by Turkish media, according to which President Chirac had apologized for the adoption of the bill penalizing the negation of the Armenian Genocide by the lower house of the French Parliament. According to Turkish media, Chirac had promised to block adoption of a corresponding law in future.

"The phone talk really took place, but we do not confirm the information disseminated by Turkish media. During the conversation with the Turkish Prime Minister Chirac repeated the words he said in Yerevan, emphasizing the necessity of acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide by Ankara if Turkey wants to join the European Union," the official source of the Elisee Palace noted.




THIS IS WHAT YOU'D EXPECT FROM THE INVENTORS OF THE GUILLOTINE
Turkish Daily News
Oct 16 2006

From the columns

Bugun's Erhan Afyoncu yesterday talked about the recent bill adopted by the French Parliament that makes it a crime to deny that the mass killings of Armenians at the hands of Turks in 1915 were "genocide." A different behavior from a nation that invented the guillotine to kill people more readily and in bigger numbers could not be expected. When we think of the French Revolution we think of freedom, equality and patriotism; however, the period of revolution was replete with acts of violence. A couple of million were killed during the revolution. The French parliament had passed a new law stipulating that those sentenced to death be killed by decapitation.

However, there were too many to be beheaded and doing all that with only an axe or sword was not easy. A practical device to carry out execution orders was needed. Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin was assigned the task of solving this problem. On Nov. 28, 1789 he presented his execution machine to the deputies. On April 25, 1792 the French parliament adopted a law for this device, called the guillotine, to be used in executions. For proponents of the guillotine, the business had become painless and fast. About 20,000 people between 1793-1794 were killed by the sharp blade of this device.

Copyright 2006, Turkish Daily News




"WE MUST DEBATE 1915 OURSELVES"
Tolga Korkut

BY'A, Turkey
Oct 16 2006

"Genocide Denial Law" will neither serve to resolve incidents in 1915 nor benefit Armenians in Turkey says minorities law expert attorney Cetin. "Turkey should come to the level where it can solve its problems itself" believes EU specialist Dr. Aktar.

BY'A (Istanbul) - Minority Law expert, attorney Fethiye Cetin has said the French Parliament's passing of the bill on the denial of an Armenian genocide will neither serve to resolve what happened in 1915 in Turkey under Ottoman rule not benefit the Armenian community in today's Turkey.

"Just the opposite", she said, "as we have seen in the past it will inflict harm. Because the nationalist circles in Turkey use such bills and decisions as an excuse and increase the repression and expression of resentment of Armenians. Unfortunately we hear such expression from official mouths".

Cetin, also the author of the Turkish book Anneannem (My Grandmother) based on the true story of her maternal grandparent being converted to Turkish Islam in the broader concept of Christians and Armenians later becoming Turks and Muslims, believes it is wrong to "turn such grief in history into material for political purposes" and that Armenian, Turkish and French intellectuals need to work together to preempt the goals of this latest legislation and similar other.

"Turkey should do the same thing" she said. "Intellectuals should preempt all legislation that can block mutual discussion, dialogue, refreshing of memory and empathy".

According to Cetin Turkey needs to come to the point where it can solve the problem itself and that the only way forward for this is to conduct work based on refreshing of memories and empathy.

"Unless we solve this problem ourselves, it is tying up Turkey's feet. It is being turned into material of political benefit to some parliaments. This is very painful. Turkey should as a priority solve the problem and should get rid of these things that tie her down."

Cetin says a solution to the problem related to what the Ottoman Armenians encountered in 1915 is based on two things:

Memory revival: "We need to work on memory based on mutual dialogue in Turkey".

Developing empathy: "We have an empathy problem in the society. We need to be able to see and feel the grief of others for real outside of the bounds of all political conflicts and nationalist prejudice.

We need to be able to listen to each other's grief, see it and feel it. Such initiatives have started and it has been seen they have very positive effects. People have started to isten to the grief of each other. The path should be opened for this."

Cetin believed that what happened in 1915 "is sensitive and painful, requiring a priority solution" but that the sharing of memories on mutual dialogue and developing empathy between the communities is an essential part of that solution.

"If we look at the law adopted at the French Parliament" she adds, "it can be seen this serves neither memory work nor developing empathy".

Aktar: We need to debate the massacre

Bahcesehir University European Union Center President Dr. Cengiz Aktar also believes that France took a mistaken decision which he describes as being "foolish".

In an interview with the Turkish NTV television on the issue, Aktar said that rather than allow third parties to take over the issue "we must talk ourselves that there was not a genocide but that there was a serious massacre. If this happens, we will not leave the discussion up to lawmakers at the French Parliament".

Aktar believes it would be a mistake to regard the issue only in the context of Franco-Turkish relations or give impulsive reactions. He says the Turkish government can overcome this period.

"In France there has been no debate that Turkey would be further excluded or that it would be excluded from the EU process. But if we give a response in the same way, it will mean a continuation of a no-solution" he said.

Noting that there could be economic reaction to the decision, Aktar recalled French capital had over 5 billion euro in investments in Turkey and said "it would be mistaken for us to touch the industry".




"HEAVY BLOW ON FRANCO-TURKISH RELATIONS"
BY'A, Turkey
Oct 16 2006

Ankara feels deeply regrets over French Parliament's criminalization of the denial of "Armenian Genocide": "Heavy blow on relations".

Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrank Dink believes Senate will reject bill as Turkey presses for freedom of expression.

BY'A (Istanbul) - Reaction against the French Parliament's passing of a repressive law banning the denial of an Armenian Genocide in Ottomon Turkey was more or less unified in wake of the news with the Foreign Ministry in Ankara expressing "deep regret" over the development and saying it was a heavy blow to Franco-Turkish relations and business associations warning of economic repercussions.

Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink, prosecuted in Turkey for articles mentioning the genocide, was among those who acknowledged France's move as a mistake but with hope that Turkey would benefit out of it and perhaps even open its own doors to freedom of expression.

"I don't believe this bill will be accepted by the Senate" Dink said, recalling that the draft law had been accepted at the lower house of parliament and needed to be submitted to Senate examination. After which it still needs to be approved by the president to go in force.

"But whether it become a law or not" Dink added in an interview with the Turkish NTV television, "no one should be sorry. In my view, this will be gainful for Turkey. But the Armenians will lose".

Turkey's prestigious Industrialists and Businessmen Association (TUSIAD) Paris representative Serap Atan said the decision taken at parliament on Thursday was a bad step for French democracy but called for "common sense to prevail" in any further steps to be taken.

Her views coincided with a statement issued by the Direct Businessmen Association (MUSIAD) that warned of warm feelings in the country's business community to a possible trade embargo on France.

FM: Heavy blow to relations

In a written statement it issued after the French Parliament's decision, the Turkish Foreign Ministry blasted "the irresponsible initiatives of some French politicians based on false allegations and with no view of he consequences of policies they pursue" and said that as result of these Turkish-French relations "have today received a serious blow".

The ministry maintained that the draft was a violation of the European Convention which clearly described in which exceptional conditions democratic societies could restrict the freedom of opinion and expression branding it "double standard" for this bill to be brought on the agenda at a time Turkey itself was being asked to take additional steps on freedom of expression despite the "important reforms" it had recorded in the recent years.

Dink: It will be gainful for Turkey

Armenian-Turkish "Agos" newspaper Editor-in-Chief Hrant Dink said, meanwhile, that Turkey would not be the one to lose out of this bill and expressed belief that "after this, Turkey will display the freedom of expression that has been taken from its hands".

Stating that until the French vote the world public opinion saw the Armenians as the aggrieved and the Turks as being unjust, Dink noted "From now on the Turkish expression has become the one that is aggrieved. I believe that the Turkish official expression will use these conditions and will display the freedom of expression that has been taken from its hands".

Dink said that anti-EU circles could be expected to exploit the development and that this itself could lead to problems in Turkey's relations with the Union.

Saying that the French Parliament continuously used the expression that "Turkey should look to itself", Dink asked "is Turkey going to be able to look to itself? They have mentioned [Penal Code] article 301. These are not wrong either. There we are against the [violation of] freedom of expression. But in Turkey there are laws, cases, that repress the freedom of expression. Let us do what is right. After that, as France has done in their mistake, they will be left isolated".

Business: Common-sense reaction

TUSIAD Paris Representative Serap Atan who believes the decision is a blow to French democracy said "It is important that in the steps to be taken after this, common sense prevails in reactions. It is normal for relations to get tense in the diplomatic scene. We need to talk to the French who share our views and ensure this is rejected at the Senate. We will work towards this."

MUSIAD chairman Dr. Omer Bolat who said there were warm feelings in the business community to impose a trade embargo on France, described the bill as "unjust and unfair". Bolat said "We are aware that the law passed by the French Parliament is not that much related with the Armenian issue. It is evident that the so-called genocide is just an excuse. The real purpose of France is to block Turkey's way into the EU".




FRENCH APPROVAL OF ARMENIAN BILL STILL SPARKING REACTIONS AT HOME AND ABROAD
The New Anatolian, Turkey
Oct 16 2006

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.




FRANCE WILL GAIN NOTHING FROM LAW ON PUNISHMENT FOR DENIAL OF "GENOCIDE OF ARMENIANS"
Azerbaijan
Democratic Azerbaijan
Oct 16 2006

France will gain nothing from law on punishment for denial of "genocide of Armenians". This law may cast a shadow on French-Turkish and French-Azerbaijani relations. As AzerTaj informs these words were said by Ambassador of France to Azerbaijan, Bernard Amaudric du Shaffaut, at press conference held October 13 in connection with adoption of law on punishment for denial of "genocide of Armenians" during first reading of National Assembly of France. Ambassador said: "We regret that the law was passed in first reading. Government of France was against it, and this position is unchanged. Government holds that there is no need for law on punishment for denial of "genocide of Armenians".

Having underlined that the law hasn't come in force yet, Ambassador said that for this purpose, first of all the document should be approved by Senate. If some amendments are made to it, it will be returned to National Assembly for development. In case the law is approved by Senate, then Constitutional Council may adopt resolution concerning the absence of the document in Constitution of the country. Moreover, President of the country may return the law to the parliament for development.

Ambassador hopes that senators, elected for 9 year term, will be more reasonable and they won't approve this decision. Government will endeavor to prevent enforcement of the above law.

AZERBAIJANI AND TURKISH DIASPORA MEMBERS PLACED PROTEST ACTION OUTSIDE FRANCE EMBASSY IN PRAGUE
Azeri Press Agency
Oct 16 2006

Azerbaijani and Turkish Diaspora members in Czechia placed a protest action outside France embassy in Prague, Azerbaijan-Czechia Society told the APA.

The participants, who tied their mouth with ribbon symbolically, hit hands together for 15 minutes. The action participants protested against the arrest and monetary penalty considered for the deniers false Armenian genocide by France Parliament and handed the resolution written in Czech language to embassy officer. The chief of the society also gave "Armenian Genocide" book written in French, Armenian and Turkish languages and the CD to the embassy. The society is also reported to hold series of ceremonies on Khojali tragedy will be held in February next year in Czech. Exhibitions and seminars will be held within the ceremony which will last for three months.




'TURKEY DISCRIMINATED AGAINST CONSCIOUSLY'
Zaman, Turkey
Oct 16 2006

Democratic Leftist Party (DSP) chairman Zeki Sezer claimed that the French parliament's passing of the bill penalizing a denial of an Armenian Genocide was not a "mental lapse " as previously claimed, but part of a conscious and discriminative policy against Turkey.

Sezer issued a press release evaluating Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's comment stating that France had experienced a "mental lapse."

Sezer said neglecting France's attitude would be a fatal mistake and added that Turkey could not be alert enough against possible dangers, and should prepare for them in advance.

The DSP Leader said French President Jacques Chirac explained he would do his best to prevent the bill's acceptance, though he noted "The French President did not say a word while the bill was passing through parliament."




ARMENIAN PATRIARCH IN TURKEY SLAMS FRENCH GENOCIDE BILL
AKI, Italy
Oct 16 2006

Istanbul, 16 Oct. (AKI) - The Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople (Istanbul) Mesrop Mutafyan has criticised last week's decision by France's lower house of parliament to approve a vote which would make it an offence to deny that the massacre of Armenians under Ottoman rule was a genocide. "Ultra-nationalist groups will benefit from the draft that the French Parliament had approved and a risky period will start," Mesrop said in an interview with Turkish newspaper Milliyet published on Monday.

"I'm concerned that the hard-won bridges between Turks and Armenians will collapse after this draft", he said.

Though small the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople has exerted an influential role among Orthodox churches. It represented the largest Christian community in Turkey.

Last week's vote by the French lower house has provoked angry reaction in Turkey.

Some shops and supermarkets in various cities have stopped selling French products. A private language school in the city of Konya removed French courses from its programme and some travel agencies cancelled their tours to Paris originally scheduled for the 3-day end-of-Ramadan holiday later this month.

"I don't want to name what has happened in 1915. Tragic things have happened. The Nationalist Ottoman party has role on that issue, the seperatist motives of Armenians have a role as have the policies of Western countries have role on that," Patriarch Mesrop said in the Milliyet interview.

"The Armenians living abroad put all their efforts to win official recognition for the 'genocide'. They also do not take our views into account. We Armenians living in Turkey support dialogue and peace.

But the disapora think that we are forced to say these things since they think we are hostages", he said.




FINANCIAL TIMES: RISKS ARE HUGE
By Anka
Zaman, Turkey
Oct 16 2006

Claims are being made that the Cyprus problem could derail Turkey's admission as a member of the EU by the end of the year.

The Financial Times newspaper warned that the ensuing risks would be huge. "In Turkey, it could halt the country's cultural march westward, which began 80 years ago under the rule of Kemal Ataturk, and instead empower Islamist and nationalist political forces."

The newspaper published a commentary by Vicent Bonland and Kerin Hope on the Cyprus problem and Turkey's EU negotiation process. Reserving a page for the issue, the newspaper reported that the Cyprus problem could be set as a precondition for Turkey to take further steps towards integration.

"While a row between the Turkish and French last week over recognition of the Armenian genocide has put another formidable obstacle in the way of Turkey joining the EU, Cyprus poses a much more immediate difficulty. It is possible that, by the end of this year, the problem will derail the admission of Turkey as a member -the EU's most ambitious and controversial geo-strategic project," the newspaper wrote.

To re-emphasize the warnings of a possible train crash with the EU, the FT said that, the "risks were huge," and referred to a statement by Kirsty Hughes who was quoted as saying: "If Turkey's EU bid were to collapse, the EU's overall foreign policy credibility risks serious damage."

France and Austria Could Seek to Halt Negotiations

The Financial times also wrote that many EU diplomats now admit that it was a mistake to accept Greek Cypriot membership into the EU, as Turkey accuses the Union of reneging on promises to end the isolation of Turkish Cyprus.

Turkey refuses to open its ports to Greek Cypriots before the isolation is removed, the article wrote, adding that "if it does not do so, opponents of Turkish EU membership such as France and Austria (and, of course, Cyprus) could insist that the negotiations be ended - the "train crash" scenario - or suspended, which would be the equivalent of driving the train into a siding."

According to diplomats, the Turkish government, which will hold a general election next year, is stuck between refusing to make further compromises on Cyprus and keeping its EU negotiations on track.

The article also refers to EU term president Finland's proposal to end the deadlock, noting that even Finland's modest proposals are too much for Turkey and Greek Cypriot leader Papadopulos.

The newspaper also notes that the TRNC was suffering disproportionately from the status quo.




AZERI AND TURKISH DIASPORA IN CZECH PROTEST DECISION OF FRENCH PARLIAMENT
AzerTag, Azerbaijan
Oct 16 2006

Representatives of the Azerbaijani and Turkish Diaspora in the Czech Republic held a rally of protest before the embassy of France in Prague, against the French Parliament's bill establishing punishment for rejection of the "Armenian genocide".

During 15 minutes, the protesters have stood before the Embassy with posters in their hands exposing falsification of historical events in Czech language.

Chairman of the Azer-Czech Society Elshan Nazarov has presented to the Embassy employees a book, "The Armenian Terror", in French, Armenian and Turkish, and a CD, demanded form the democratic France to refrain form its pro-Armenian position.

Since February 2007, the Azer-Czech Society is going to hold numerous actions on the Khojali tragedy.




FRENCH AMBASSADOR: "TURKISH-FRENCH RELATIONS WILL BE HURT BY PASSAGE OF THE ARMENIAN BILL"
Turkish Press
Oct 16 2006

Appearing on television yesterday, France's Ambassador to Ankara Paul Poudade commented on the French Parliament's passage of the Armenian bill, saying that French-Turkish relation could be hurt by the decision. Poudade pointed out that the bill was passed by the lower house of Parliament, but had not yet become a law. "Accepting the so-called Armenian genocide claims is not a precondition for Turkey's European Union membership bid," said Poudade, adding that dialogue between the sides on the issue should be should be improved.




I DON'T TRUST CHIRAC
By Tufan Turenc
Turkish Press
Oct 16 2006

HURRIYET- I want to write very harsh words about French President Jacque Chirac. I'm trying hard to stop myself. I don't trust Chirac at all. His majesty called Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and told him that he was very sorry. He said that he understands and shares our feelings and criticism and that this development stems from the upcoming general elections. Then he promised that he would do his best to make sure the bill won't become law. So kind of him!

Where has he been until now as France's president? I wonder if Chirac is making fun of the Turkish nation. They immediately forgot the show that he made in the Armenian capital Yerevan last week. I also wonder if he didn't say last week that each country has to face up to its tragedies and mistakes in the past in line with its level of development and that Turkey should recognize the Armenian genocide in order to gain European Union membership. What sort of a statesmanship is this? How can the Turkish nation trust a president whose words now contradict what he said just a week before? Who can guarantee that his majesty won't say something against Turkey tomorrow? Chirac should realize that the Turkish nation knows better than to take him seriously.

I wonder what Erdogan and the Cabinet ministers think about Chirac. I believe they don't trust him either. Turkey should act coolly now. We should see that this nonsensical, illogical law which completely violates democratic values has damaged France's international respectability and we should make use of it very well. We should make a dignified response to this hostile stance of France. Let's not sully our just cause with pointless displays like throwing eggs at the doors and windows of French representatives and setting their flag on fire. Let's not forget that trying to impose excessive sanctions on commercial interests would only harm us. The Turkish Republic is a state of law. Harming French firms which have invested in Turkey would hit us like a boomerang. Our struggle with France should be done through political and legal avenues. Turkey has the resources, experience and diplomatic culture to do this.




TURKEY, FRANCE: ANKARA SEEKS FRENCH BUSINESSES' HELP AGAINST ARMENIAN GENOCIDE BILL
Monday Morning, Lebanon
Oct 16 2006

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has asked French companies to lobby French legislators against a parliamentary bill making it an offense to deny that Armenians were the victims of genocide

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan met in Istanbul with representatives of French companies doing business in Turkey in a bid to enlist their support against a controversial French bill that has threatened to poison bilateral ties.

The bill, to be debated in the French Parliament, makes it an offense to deny that Armenians were the victims of genocide under the Ottoman Empire during World War I.

"Erdogan asked French companies to lobby French legislators to try to abort the bill", Mustafa Abdullahoglu, an executive with a firm he did not name, told reporters after the meeting. "He said the bill would damage bilateral ties if adopted".

Abdullahoglu said he feared a boycott of French goods in Turkey if the bill was passed.

Representatives of carmakers Peugeot and Renault, the food giant Danone, the construction materials producer Lafarge and supermarket chain Carrefour were among the participants in the meeting.

Members of a Turkish-French business group flew to Paris to lobby against the bill, which calls for a five-year prison term and a fine of 45,000 euros (57,000 dollars) for anyone who denies that the massacres of Armenians constituted a genocide.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry warned that the adoption of the bill could jeopardize "investments, the fruit of years of work, and France will -- so to speak -- lose Turkey".

The bill was first submitted in May but the debate ran out of parliamentary time before a vote could be held.

The head of Turkey's largest business group TUSIAD also condemned the bill, calling it the reflection of "fears that Turkey's bid for European Union membership can materialize" and an attempt at "disrupting efforts for constructive dialogue and analytical debate".

"I appeal to French politicians: 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?" Omer Sabanci said in a statement, carried by the Anatolia news agency.

In 2001 France passed a resolution recognizing the killings as "genocide", prompting Ankara to retaliate by sidelining French companies from public tenders and cancelling several projects awarded to French firms.

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 rebelled against Ottoman rule in Eastern Anatolia and sided with invading Russian troops as the Ottoman Empire was falling apart.




Turkish business urges calm over France's Armenia bill
October 16, 2006
ANKARA - TDN with AFP

Turkish consumers were advised on Sunday to cool their anger over the French parliament's decision to criminalize denial that Armenian killings during World War I constituted “genocide.”

The appeals for calm from prominent business leaders came after French President Jacques Chirac distanced himself from the parliamentary measure.

The vice president of the powerful Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodities Exchanges (TOBB), Hüseyin Üzülmez, warned against a widescale consumer boycott that could have a major impact on economic relations, amounting to 8 billion euros in two-way trade last year.

“We should not be too exaggerated in our reaction,” he was quoted as saying by the Anatolia news agency, while he called on shoppers to “use reason.”

Turkish officials have resisted calls for an outright boycott of French goods with perhaps an eye on the country's precarious bid to join the European Union.

Commercial ties between the two countries run deep. Some 250 French companies have strong links with Turkey stretching back many years.

Automaker Renault, for example, employs hundreds of people at a factory in the northwest of the country.

Lütfü Yenel, head of the Turkish affiliate of French telecoms group Alcatel, said he was astounded by calls for a boycott of his company.

But although an official ban is unlikely, Turkish consumers and businesses were expected to vent their anger by not buying French.

The country's consumer organization, for instance, has said that a boycott would begin at the 500 gas stations in Turkey owned by France's Total.

Every week there would be an appeal to boycott products from a new French firm until the genocide bill is scrapped, the organization threatened.




Turkish Press Yesterday
October 16, 2006

These are summaries of major headlines from Turkish newspapers on October 15, 2006
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News

Chirac apologizes to Erdoğan:
Zaman yesterday reported that as reactions continued to mount against the French parliament's adoption of a bill criminalizing denial the alleged genocide of Armenians, Paris had taken a step to reduce the tension. French President Jacques Chirac, who called Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the phone, said he was sorry about parliament's adoption of the bill and would do his best to block its enactment of the bill. During the phone conversation, which took place early on Saturday morning, Chirac indicated that developments in the French parliament concerning the alleged genocide were related to the approaching general elections.

Erdoğan, who relayed the Turkish public's anger to the French president, said, “We should never sacrifice our bilateral relations to politics.” Erdoğan asked that efforts to block the ultimate ratification of the law be made and criticized Chirac's statements in a recent visit to Armenia. Chirac had linked Turkey's European Union membership process to its recognition of the alleged genocide claims, Zaman said. Zaman also published interviews with French journalists who said the French parliament had made a mistake of historic proportions.

Turkey is not a threat:
European Parliament President Josep Borrell recently stated that Turkey should not be perceived as a “threat,” but that on the contrary Turkey's membership would develop dialogue with the Islamic world and increase Europe's political influence in the region, reported Yeni Şafak yesterday. Borrell also stated that the EU is not a Christian club while underlining that Turkey was a secular country. In response to a question whether Turkey should be accepted in the European Union because it has to be integrated, or just because it is Turkey, Borrell replied both were valid reasons. Borrel also said negotiations will be tough, particularly over the Ankara Protocol which stipulates that Turkey open its ports to Greek Cyprus, which Turkey does not recognize.

An olive branch to pope:
Vatan yesterday reported that prominent men of religion from 25 countries, including Turkey, had written a joint letter to Pope Benedict XVI. Vatan said the Islamic world had taken a step to ease the tension created by the pope's recent remarks offending Muslims. The letter implies that the pope's apology was accepted and makes a call for dialogue for world peace.

But Orhan, you are no cotton:
Star yesterday highlighted Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer's stance concerning Turkey's first Nobel Prize-winning author, Orhan Pamuk. The daily noted that Sezer has not yet congratulated Pamuk, even though four days have passed since the Nobel Prize was announced. The daily said that in a statement to mark World Standards Day Sezer had expressed pride in Turkish products respected in international markets, such as cotton and figs. Playing on Pamuk's last name, which means “cotton” in Turkish, Star said: “Thus, enter fig and cotton into the sphere of things to be proud of for the president. However, the Nobel Prize-winner Pamuk has not received a congratulatory message after four days.” Star noted that Turkish writers Yaşar Kemal, Çetin Altan and Zülfü Livaneli were the first ones to congratulate the writer.

Turkey has one more half a Nobel:

Radikal yesterday reported that a project developed by Muhammad Yunus and awarded this year's Nobel Peace Prize has changed the lives of thousands of women in Diyarbakır. Yunus set up the Grameen Bank in his native Bangladesh in 1976 offering loans for poor people with no requirement for financial guarantees. The same project was implemented in Diyarbakır, where 3,600 women borrowed a total of YTL 4.3 million. The women who set up successful businesses paid back their debts to the last kurush.




Parliament expected to release joint declaration against French bill
-October 16, 2006

Private Bahçeşehir University decides to launch a legal battle against French National Assembly decision

ANKARA – TDN Parliament Bureau

Members of the Turkish Parliament will convene on Tuesday to take up a special agenda addressing the passage last week of a French bill that would make it a crime to deny allegations that Armenians were subject to genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.

Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül will brief lawmakers at a general assembly session on Ankara's approach to the issue and policies to be followed from now on. Following speeches by representatives of the political parties that have seats in Parliament, a joint declaration condemning adoption of the bill is expected to be released.

Just like Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) government did, opposition parties last week strongly condemned the adoption of the controversial bill by French lawmakers.

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.

Meanwhile, an Istanbul university has announced a decision to make the necessary arrangements for those citizens of the Turkish Republic who want to file complaints to the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights against French bill.

The private Bahçeşehir University, in line with a decision made on Thursday by the university senate, decided to launch a legal battle against the French National Assembly's decision made on the same day, Thursday.

“We, as Bahçeşehir University, find the bill in question unacceptable and will start a legal battle based on the concept of ‘potential grievance.' We undertake the advocacy of 1 million persons,” the university's rector, Süheyl Batum, said in a statement released over the weekend.

Those who want to file a complaint will be able to get printed petitions from universities and bar associations as well as from Turkish missions abroad.

Bahçeşehir aims to collect 1 million petitions to be sent to Strasbourg if the bill in France eventually goes into force.




Cities and Nobels
After reading the novel, “Veronika Decides to Die” by Paulo Coelho, I went to Ljubljana [in Slovenia] just to see those places and take pictures of the squares, streets, buildings and people in the city mentioned in this novel. While reading Orhan Pamuk’s “Snow,” I really wanted to go to Kars with my camera on a winter day.

For a long time now, I have been dreaming of taking pictures of Kars after making the long train journey to this eastern Anatolian city. I am still dreaming of it. I believe novels can go beyond city walls, take them out of their cages and present them to other lands and people of other lands. Therefore, novelists are big boons for cities. There can be no bigger boon than a city chosen as a theme by a world-renowned novelist. St. Petersburg became a world city with “Crime and Punishment” and Paris opened its soul in “Les Miserables” to Victor Hugo, who narrated it to the whole world.

Pamuk is definitely no regime opponent. On the contrary, he is a member of a family from the very center of the regime. He has never been in a position to oppose the regime all his life. He has neither suffered economic difficulties nor has he had any problems with the regime. In other words, he is one of those white Turks. Besides, his family includes members from Ittihat Terakki (the Committee of Union and Progress) that put Turkey in trouble over the Armenian issue. Though Pamuk had serious problems within his family, he spent his life at the best schools and places in Nisantasi; he never had the opportunity to come face to face with the Armenian or Kurdish issue. I do not know whether he encountered any problems in the eastern city of Kars where he lived briefly while writing his novel “Snow” but Pamuk, generally, has spent most in life in good places and under very favorable conditions. Although I have not been able to read any his novels from beginning to end, Pamuk is certainly a good novelist. At least he has aroused my interest in wanting to go to Kars.

Let me just reiterate that Pamuk is a good novelist though he holds no serious political attitudes for or against the regime, and I also think his remarks on the Armenians and Kurds could labeled as opportunistic. What needs to be discussed here is the hypocrisy of the West. The West has almost made it a condition for a novelist or intellectual from the East to belittle his/her own society’s values in order for him/her to be rewarded. Doors are opened for those who ridicule and belittle Eastern values or those who speak out on issues which are the Achilles’ heel of the East. Pamuk’s remarks must be regarded as words uttered with such purpose to appease the West. If he truly believed in what he said about the Kurds and Armenians, it would have befitted the intellectual honor. Awarding Pamuk the the Nobel Prize in Literature right after the French freak accident, can be considered a typical Western conspiracy.

Beyond all these discussions, it is very important that a Turkish Turk has won a Nobel prize. This is a development that can draw the whole world’s attention to Turkey, Istanbul and even Kars. I hope Turkey makes good use of this golden opportunity. Who knows, maybe Pamuk will narrate the experiences, wisdom and general spirit of tolerance in these lands to the outside world. People who have given their souls for these lands, for the sake of the regime and power, do not always look at the world from the same viewpoint.


MEHMET KAMIS
10.16.2006
e-mail:m.kamis@zaman.com.tr




Stores Shutters Come down
By Zelis Yildiral, Istanbul
October 16, 2006
zaman.com

In response to France’s proposed law to criminalize denial of an Armenian genocide during World War I, some companies are closing their stores.

Yesterday, most stores in the Taksim Square district that sell French goods did not open.

Many foreign members of the United Brands Association (UBA), a non-governmental organization of the Turkish retail sector, are concerned about reaction to the bill and are taking extra precautions.

Boycotts of French products are spreading all over the country.

From Istanbul and Izmit in the west, to Konya and Nevsehir in the east, fresh protests continued. Shelves in a market in Erzurum were cleared of French products and residents in Nigde, not content to leave it at that, burnt their French products.

In many stores, once favored products are being returned or left on the shelves after customers learn of their French origin.

The cosmetic sector is being especially affected as 80 percent of cosmetic products sold on the market belong to French companies.

Shoppers are going right past shelves stacked with Vichy and Loreal creams, shampoos and make-up products.

Long-time Loreal user Ayse Genc says, “I don’t know what France is trying to do, but it’s hurting the friendship between two countries.”

Aysel Ordu says that from now on she is checking the label for French origins, and adds “I’ve given up a French perfume I really like I’ve been using for two years.”




Two Thirds of French Against Armenian Bill
October 16, 2006
zaman.com

A public survey conducted in France has revealed that most of the French public is against the Armenian bill passed in the French National Assembly on Thursday. The Armenian bill makes it crime to deny that an Armenian genocide occurred during World War I.

According to an online survey, 68 percent of respondents did not welcome the Armenian bill.

Those who think that this bill serves an Armenian cause say that it is “harmful” for France at the same time.

Only 26 percent of the respondents support the Armenian bill according to the survey, while six percent refrained from expressing their views.

First the French Senate and then the President Jacques Chirac must approve the bill before it can become law.




Head of Higher Education Returns Legion d'Honneur to France
October 16, 2006
zaman.com

Erdogan Tezic, chairman of the Higher Education Board (YOK), has sent back his order of merit medal in protest at the adoption of a draft bill that penalizes the denial of an Armenian genocide during World War I.

A statement issued by the YOK said that Tezic returned the Legion d'Honneur to French President Jacques Chirac along with a letter, which protested the approval of the controversial bill in the French parliament.

President Chirac had awarded Tezic in September 2004 with the Legion d'Honneur, the highest civilian honor conferred to non-Francophone people.




A comment on the French games
October 10 2006
Azgaser / Armenian Cafe

Armenians who are grateful to France for its sudden 'genocide fervour' should think again.

How come they feel so passionately for the Armenian genocide now? How come they, together with other Western countries, didn't give a damn about it before the threat of turkish EU-membership?

Obviously I do not protest the recognition of the genocide by any parliament. However, to prohibit denial is not only immoral (with the exception of Armenia where it should be prohibited) but, infact, bad for us Armenians.

Why is it bad for us? Because it gives people the impression that "the Armenian lobby" rules France (some French people are already accusing us of that!). So, the French are prepared to use our genocide as a tool in their interests (which in this case is their struggle to keep turkey out of the EU) and then blame their deteriorated relations with turkey on us.

As for the bill, I don't think it will be accepted (at least not this time). Like Hrant Dink says the EU deliberately teases turkey and creates hostility towards the EU among the turks by putting forward and then pulling back bills like these on a regular basis. In this way they hope to manage to convince the turks to voluntarily refrain from joining the EU without having to tell them openly: "**** off!"

Let the West tell the turks that they don't want them in the EU without using us as a tool in the process.

Oh.. and more thing, isn't it a bit ironic that denying the Armenian genocide should be an offence in France when it isn't even illegal in Armenia?






TURK ACADEMIC RETURNS FRENCH MEDAL OVER GENOCIDE LAW
Reuters, UK
Oct 16 2006

ANKARA, Oct 16 (Reuters) - The man in charge of Turkish higher education on Monday returned to France a prestigious medal in protest over a French bill making it a crime to deny Armenian genocide by Ottoman Turks during World War One.

The gesture by Erdogan Tezic, chairman of the strictly secular body that oversees Turkish universities, marks the latest Turkish protest at the French lower house of parliament's vote in favour of the bill on Thursday.

Turkey denies any genocide, saying the Armenians were victims of a partisan war that also claimed many Muslim Turkish lives. Turkey accuses Armenians of also carrying out massacres while siding with invading Russian troops.

"Although the draft has not become law, with my letter, I return one of France's highest state decorations, 'Commandeur de la Legion d'Honneur'... as I won't be able to wear it as this issue (Armenian genocide) has become French state policy," Tezic said in a letter to President Jacques Chirac.

Tezic was awarded the Legion d'Honneur medal in 2004 by Chirac, becoming the first and only Turk to hold it, the powerful Higher Education Board said. As former head of the prestigious French-language university in Istanbul, Tezic received the award for services to French culture.

The bill still needs approval from the upper house -- the Senate --and the French president, who has indicated he does not support the proposal. France is home to Europe's largest Armenian diaspora.




16 October 2006
Gulf Times

PARIS: French deputies hailed a vote to make denial of the Armenian genocide a crime as a triumph for human rights, but analysts said Thursday’s vote had more to do with fears of Turkey’s EU entry and an election next year.

Despite harsh criticism from Ankara and business fears of a Turkish backlash, the lower house of parliament passed a law imposing prison terms on anyone who denies Armenians suffered genocide in 1915 at the hands of Ottoman Turks.

Parliamentarians celebrated the Socialist-sponsored bill, which still needs Senate approval, as "immense progress...for the cause of humanity" and a "proposal for civil peace".

But analysts said the impulse for the initiative was more prosaic, coming barely six months before parliamentary and presidential elections and amid a climate of strong French voter opposition to Turkey’s European Union entry.

"There is a very strong Armenian minority (in France) but there also is the issue of bringing Turkey into the EU," said Hall Gardner from the American University of Paris.

"(The law) is meant to block Turkey’s entry into the EU. That’s the strategy of some people," he said.

Conservative presidential frontrunner Nicolas Sarkozy has spoken out strongly against Turkey’s EU entry.

Segolene Royal, his likely Socialist rival has not yet stated her position on Turkey’s membership but said on Wednesday Ankara needed to recognise the Armenia genocide to confirm its candidacy.

A recent survey showed some 60% of French opposed to Ankara entering the bloc. Critics say Turkey is too big, too poor and too culturally different to become a fully integrated member of the EU.

Concerns about Turkey’s possible EU membership was blamed in part for French voters’ rejection of the EU constitution in a referendum last year.

Turkey denies accusations of a genocide of some 1.5mn Armenians during the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, arguing that Armenian deaths were a part of general partisan fighting in which both sides suffered.

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.

"Several deputies with strong Armenian communities in their districts told themselves to ensure re-election, they are standing by those who demand punishment for denial of the genocide," said political scientist Didier Billion.

Turkey was quick to condemn the vote and its Foreign Ministry said it had dealt a severe blow to French-Turkish ties. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan this week told France to examine its own colonial past rather than preach to Turkey.

Some French critics asked whether their own country had learnt anything from its empire having ended in bloody wars in Indochina and Algeria.

A French law urging teachers to stress the "positive role" of the French overseas presence sparked a heated national debate and large protests earlier this year, forcing President Jacques Chirac to order its repeal.

Analysts said the controversy over France’s colonial past made the human rights rhetoric behind the Armenia bill less credible.

"For some deputies, there is a moral duty to say France, as the home of human rights, must take a position on these issues," said Billion of the IRIS institute.

"But ... rather than being proud about our universal message on human rights, we have to address some problems linked to our own history," he said.




GEORGIAN ANALYST: "TURKEY SHOULD OPEN ITS BORDERS TO ALLOW ARMENIA TO BENEFIT FROM REGIONAL RAILROAD PROJECT"
16 October 2006
Today Az

Dr. Tina Gelashvili, the head of the economics department at the University of Tbilisi's Akhaltsikhe campus, believes the railroad will create new opportunities for both Georgia and Turkey. "The project has regional as well as countrywide implications. A railroad is a strategic investment in several aspects. Countries through which it passes will take advantage of this opportunity," she says.

Georgia has significant potential for investment, Gelashvili points out: "Exports and imports between the two countries will expand. Once an environment of confidence is built up, Turkish investors may come here. Turkey is an important country for us. Significant commercial relations have been developed between the two countries. There is a considerable volume of Turkish goods circulating in Georgia. Turkey should make use of the potential here."

Gelashvili highlights that Armenia will benefit from the project as well despite its opposition: "The Armenians and the Azerbaijanis have a troubled relationship. But there's no such situation with Georgia. When Georgia has this railroad route, Armenia can easily use it as well. In my opinion, Turkey should also open its borders to Armenia. Then both railroads will become operational. The roads connecting the countries to each other will never become redundant," Turkish Daily News online edition informs.

It's very strange to hear such statements from a rep of a country which will not put its own money into the project. As Today.Az reported earlier, Turkey and Azerbaijan will invest USD 450 million for the 300 kilometre railway. USD 200-300 million of this will be spent to build the 227 kilometre Georgian part of the railway. 191 kilometres of track in Georgia need to be repaired, and 36 built from scratch. The money will be given to Georgian Railways as an interest free loan.

It would bbetter to pay back the loan first and only then to invite neighbouring country to benefit from the project.




Armenia Aims To Normalize Relations With Turkey
AFP, Reuters

Armenia's Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian on Sunday said he would strive to normalize relations with Turkey despite deep misgivings about the Turkish refusal to regard the 1915-17 massacres of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks as genocide.

"That these events... have not been condemned and not recognized once so far, is in reality a continuation of the genocide," Oskanian was quoted as saying in an interview with the Swiss newspaper NZZ am Sonntag. "However, as foreign minister I have a duty to look to the future and to seek to establish normal relations with Turkey," he added.

Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993, in support for its ally Azerbaijan, which was then at war with Armenia.

Oskanian in Sunday's comments reiterated his country's satisfaction with the French National Assembly's vote last Thursday approving a bill that would make it a crime to deny that the Armenian massacres were genocide, as well as a similar move by the Swiss parliament in 2003. However, he also expressed mixed feelings about the practical value of these measures.

"Whether the French or the Swiss legislation is a good starting point is hard to say," he said, adding that recognition of the genocide by other countries "is not a goal in itself". "Armenia also has no interest in humiliating Turkey," he explained.

Oskanian said the Turkish government's offer to set up a joint commission of historians to examine the massacres was "dishonest" so long as Turkey kept its border with Armenia closed and explicitly outlawed the use of the word genocide in the sensitive Armenian issue. "Our President has told (Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip) Erdogan that Armenia is ready to talk, as soon as the borders are open and as soon as there are bilateral relations. When this is the case, an intergovernmental commission can discuss this question," he told the newspaper.

Meanwhile, a Turkish official told Reuters on Sunday that French President Jacques Chirac called Erdogan on Saturday to say he was very sorry it had been adopted by the lower house. Chirac stressed that he understood and shared the reactions and feelings of the Turkish public upset by the bill, the official said.

The French president's office did not comment when contacted about Chirac's call to Erdogan. But immediately after Thursday's vote the French Foreign Ministry said it did not support the lower house bill, calling it "unnecessary and untimely" and indicating it might never become law as it still needs to be ratified by both the upper house Senate and French president.

Many Turks also see the genocide vote as a way for the European Union to keep Muslim Turkey out of the 25-member club, which Ankara is negotiating to join. The European Commission recalled that recognition of the genocide is not a precondition for Turkey entering the EU. But Chirac and the two leading candidates to replace him in
polls due next May -- Nicolas Sarkozy and Segolene Royal -- all say Ankara must accept the genocide before joining the bloc.

Erdogan warned on Friday that Turkey was considering retaliatory measures against France. French firms have warned the bill would create repercussions for their business in Turkey, a fast-growing market which imported 4.7 billion euros' worth of French goods in 2005.

Also Sunday, police in France said that they had no leads following the theft of an Armenian genocide monument in a southwestern Paris suburb the previous night. The 300 kilogram (660 pound) bronze statue was stolen two days after the French national assembly voted to make denial of the Armenian genocide illegal, but a connection between the two events has not been established.

"We have no idea if this is a political statement or simply crooks wanting to resell the metal. Either way, it is a despicable act," Jean Levain, Mayor of Chaville, told AFP on Sunday.

Police in Chaville, Hauts-de-Seine, were expected to view on Monday tapes from security cameras at the location where the crime occurred. There was no vandalism or message at the scene, the municipality said.

The Armenian community in Chaville was "shocked and outraged", said Hirant Norcen, vice-president of the Cultural Association of the Armenian Church in Chaville. "Whatever the reason for the theft, it is still unacceptable," Norcen said.

A silent march lasting several minutes after a mass and the laying of a wreath were organized for Sunday midday. Jean-Jacques Guillet, a regional assembly member, expressed his "indignation" and declared that "the irresponsible barbarism which violated this symbol of remembrance should be punished ruthlessly."

The Armenian community gave the monument, valued by the municipality at 50,000 euros (60,000 dollars), to the city in 2002 in memory of the 1915-1917 massacres of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks.




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17th October
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Inan Returns his Legion d'Honneur Medal
By Cihan News Agency
October 17, 2006
zaman.com

Former Turkish Energy Minister Kamran Inan has returned the order of merit in protest at a draft French law that criminalizes the denial of an Armenian genocide during World War I.

Inan has become the second person to reject the prestigious medal.

Ex-Minister Inan sent back his Legion d'Honneur, the highest civilian honor conferred to non-Francophone people, on Tuesday along with a letter to French Embassy in Ankara.

He said in his letter that it was the French parliament’s hostile attitude against Turkey that prompted him to return the Legion d'Honneur, which was granted to him by former French President François Mitterrand.

On Monday, Erdogan Tezic, the Chairman of Higher Education Board, also returned the same medal for the same reason. Professor Tezic sent back the medal to French President Jacques Chirac along with a letter, which protests the approval of the controversial bill.




French Socialists React to Chirac's Apology to Erdogan
By Anadolu News Agency (aa), Paris
October 17, 2006
zaman.com

Opposition socialists in France reacted to French President Jacques Chirac after he apologized to Turkish Prime minister Erdogan for last Thursday’s Armenian genocide bill.

Socialist Party Deputy Didier Migaud criticized the conversation between Chirac and Erdogan and said that the president apologizing for the parliament’s activities was disappointing.

Migaud spoke to Le Parisien newspaper and said Chirac’s discomfort with this issue was already evident, and added that it was easier to talk about an Armenian genocide in Armenia than it was in France.

An official from French Foreign Affairs spoke to the same newspaper and said Chirac listened to Erdogan’s concerns during their telephone conversation, but did not promise to prevent the bill.

Chirac called Erdogan after the bill was accepted and voiced his discomfort with its passing in the French parliament. Erdogan wanted Chirac to prevent the bill becoming law.




Danone-Turkey Launches Signature Campaign to Protest Armenian Bill
October 17, 2006
zaman.com

French foods group Danone, which is one of the most well-known French brands, will send letters to the members of the French Senate to prevent the Armenian bill from becoming law.

Danone Turkey Director Serpil Timuray has said, “We are also against the adoption of such a bill.”

A total of 23,000 people are expected to sign the letter by Nov. 30, which bears the emblem of the “Danone Turkey Family.”

There will be a list of the 700 employees and 15,000 farmers from whom Danone buys milk along with its 600 branches across the country below the letter.

Timuray said that they printed 100,000 petition letters adding, “We expect our employees to sign the petition.”

The director remarked that they would submit the petitions to the French Senate and she added that Danone Executive Manager Franc Riboud sent a letter to the French Parliamentary President before Oct. 12 in which he explained the dangers of adopting the Armenian bill.

According to data provided by the company, Danone has a total of 400 million New Turkish Liras (YTL) invested in Turkey.

Danone managers in France were informed about the campaign, said Timuray, adding that the managers were respectful to our beliefs and agree with our civil action.

Timuray explained that Danone was a company operating in 32 countries across the world which it gives importance to the regional sensitivities.

She expressed that there would be no change in their investment plans and they would not revise their target of becoming a market leader.

Answering questions from members of the press, Timuray said that there had been no decline in sales up until now.

In answer to another question, Timuray remarked that they may place advertisements in French newspapers about the subject.

“Different reactions may come from society, but the important thing is to do so in a reasonable way,” said Timuray when asked about the boycott of French goods.




No Balance in France Boycott
By Isa Sezen, Zelis Yildiral, Istanbul
October 17, 2006
zaman.com

French firms that have Turkish partners employ about 45 thousand Turks. Observers note that boycotting these firms, which manufacture their products here, will inevitably damage the Turkish economy.

The economic boycott started in retaliation for the law passed in France criminalizing denial of an Armenian genocide during World War I.

While French products are being boycotted directly, confusion surrounds the Turkish partners of French firms and Turkish firms mistaken for French because of their names.

The fact that some firms, such as LC Waikiki, a Turkish firm, and Avon, an American one, are on the boycott list is causing uneasiness about possible unfair conduct of some firms who might attempt to damage the reputation of their competitors.

The call to not purchase ‘Made in France’ products, mostly cosmetic ones, still affects Turkish-partnered firms, which would cripple a certain section of the economy employing 45 thousand Turkish citizens.

Saban Erdikler, the chairman of International Investors Association (YASED), which aspires to make Turkey a more attractive country for direct foreign investments, says that, “the inability to establish a balance in the boycott would amount to shooting ourselves in the leg.”

The members of the association are all professional managers of international firms operating in Turkey. The fact that the Turkish partners of French firms will suffer damage keeps forcing boycott organizers in Turkey to step back. With Total in top position on the list, the Consumers Union of Turkey deleted CarrefourSA from second place considering its contribution to many branches of business and employment in Turkey.

After the passage of the bill in the French Parliament, the inclusion by some internet sites of many companies on the boycott list regardless of their origin a sparked a debate about the trustworthiness of such sources.

A similar debate occurred when relations with Italy were tense owing to Turkey’s extradition demand for Abdullah Ocalan, head of the PKK.

A major furniture company, Bellona, because of its Italian-sounding name was obliged to publicly announce that it was a Turkish firm.

When the crisis over the offensive cartoons broke out, some German and Italian products were also put on the boycott list.

Bulent Deniz, president of the Consumers Union, complained that the authors of such lists are unknown and went on to caution that: “The e-mails spreading in cyber-space are open to any kind of abuse. Some names on the list might have been put there because there is little or no information about them, or because certain ill-intentioned people want to vilify their competitors.”

He advised that such lists not be taken seriously and emphasized that they do not prepare such lists themselves due to their unpredictability and the difficultly in controlling them.

On the other hand, Turkey must tread carefully with Turkish-partnered firms like CarrefourSA, the first one that comes to mind.

Saban Erdikler, chairman of International Investors Association, noted that, “these firms should be viewed as companies using Turkish raw materials and serving Turkey.”

After calling for a boycott against the oil company Total, the Consumers Union took CarrefourSA off the list for such reasons.

Their decision to exclude firms depends on the investments made by a firm with their Turkish partners. Bulent Deniz remarked that: “Our priority this week was CarrefourSA, however we changed our minds because it feeds many branches of business and contributes to employment greatly. The committee we’ve formed is carrying on its work on finding new names that will attract people’s attention like Total did.”

Legal advisor of United Brands Union (BMD) Vehbi Kahveci noted that it was nonsense to punish those manufacturing their products here and who pay taxes.

“The owners of the boycotted stores are Turks and they employ many workers,” Kahveci said, adding that: “because of competition among brands, many are trying to abuse the situation; however the conscious consumer will not allow this. There is a total sum of $10 billion in trade volume between the two countries. There are 524 firms operating in Turkey with French capital.”

“This Amounts to Shooting Ourselves in the leg”

France is third on the list of the largest foreign investors . As of 2005, their international investments equaled $115 billion. On the contrary, foreign investment in France is about $63 billion dollars.

Saban Erdikler stresses that France’s share in the $12.4 billion dollars of foreign capital that came to Turkey in the first eight months of this year is $330 million. Turkey ranks among the first five countries to which France exports.

The crisis so far has not caused any trouble in the movement of capital, he said, but added: “it should not be overlooked that dragging a boycott, a judicial topic by nature, into the economic sphere will naturally harm Turkey. Also, it is not right to see the firms founded here with French capital as completely French. Ultimately, they are firms founded in Turkey, using a Turkish labor force and Turkish raw materials that serve Turkey.”

Erdikler also emphasized that Turkey should defend its cause through the international courts available.




Ankara Signals Amending Article 301 Ahead Release of Progress Report
By Abdulhamit Bilici, Selcuk Gultasli
October 17, 2006
zaman.com

Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul has signaled that Turkey may amend article 301, which has been used to prosecute intellectuals and journalists for “insulting Turkishness.”

He said so while attending the EU troika meeting in Luxembourg yesterday, but made no mention of a specific time frame to do so.

EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said that he was pleased with Turkey’s willingness to amend article 301.

Diplomatic sources stressed that Turkey made a promise to the European Union about the amendment of article 301 but particularly refrained from mentioning a schedule to do so.

Following the adoption of the Armenian bill in the French National Assembly on Thursday, the amendment of article 301 seems difficult to accomplish before Nov. 8. However, it may be dealt with before the EU Summit on December 14-15.

Monday’s meeting between Turkey and the EU is the last before the release of the EU Commission’s critical progress report due November 8.

The two sides discussed issues such as article 301, Cyprus, the 9th reform package, along with regional issues.

Minister Gul directed harsh criticisms toward France in a news conference where Rehn asked for either the abolishment or amendment of article 301.

In response to a question, Rehn said that freedom of expression should be ensured in Turkey as soon as possible; however, it may take a long time to reach a consensus on amending article 301 he warned.

Gul, in response to Rehn, said that Turkey would not make the same mistake that France made.

The parties did not discuss EU term president Finland’s Cyprus plan at the ministerial level, though lower levels did go over the plan.

Rehn reiterated that the Finnish plan might be a “last opportunity” for a solution on the island.

Progress Report Gains Importance
Diplomatic sources pointed out that yesterday’s EU troika meeting was a fruitful one as they stressed Rehn’s contentment with the 9th reform package and his reaction to the Armenian bill.

The progress report due on Nov. 8 has gained more importance because of the debates on article 301 and Cyprus.

EU leaders will outline decisions about Turkey on December 14-15 according to the upcoming progress report. The EU leaders will evaluate options like suspending membership negotiations or freezing the chapters regarding the Customs Union according to this report.




As the Government Emphasizes the EU Agenda…
By Abdulhamit Bilici, Luxembourg
October 17, 2006
zaman.com

[NEWS IMPRESSION] -- When I was invited to take part in Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul’s trip to Luxembourg, I assumed the number of journalists accompanying him would be no more than five.

I realized I was mistaken when I entered the small VIP hall of Ankara’s Esenboga Airport and was greeted by a large number of media representatives, the likes of which I’d only seen on critical dates such as Dec. 17 and Oct. 3.

Major newspapers’ Ankara correspondents as well as columnists Taha Akyol, Cengiz Candar and Mehmet Altan were invited. The editor-in-chiefs of certain newspapers were also invited, but Referans’ Eyup Can was the only one who came.

TV channels were not forgotten either. A Turkish Airlines Airbus was chartered for the occasion because the number of attendees was so high.

At first I wondered if the Oct.16 troika meeting had an important aspect we hadn’t considered yet. While it was certainly important, it was not a meeting where historical decisions would be taken. The troika meeting is routinely held once during each six-month EU term presidency.

This particular meeting could almost be considered symbolic, for it nearly coincided with the anniversary of Oct. 3, the starting date for Turkey’s EU membership negotiations.

Besides, this troika would be held just a week the screening process was completed. This presented a good opportunity to evaluate the previous year and to handle the upcoming term in a sense.

It was also important for it would be the last top level meeting before the expected Nov. 8 Progress Report. The Cyprus issue that could cause a “train crash” in the EU process along with the Finnish proposals would be discussed in this meeting, though nobody was expecting a final Cyprus solution to emerge.

After having considered these possibilities one by one, I thought this trip’s intended message, with such a crowded media contingent, was more important than the troika meeting itself, especially considering that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had been criticized lately for slowing down EU reforms.

In political terms, there were some points vindicating this slowing down. For instance, domestic support for the EU was rapidly falling, partly because of Europe’s unjust statements on the Cyprus and Armenian issues.

Support in Turkey regressed to 40 percent, an EU poll revealed. Moreover, dealing with the issues of Cyprus and article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, the solutions of which could be regarded as concessions in an election atmosphere, also complicated support for the EU issues.

However, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s statement that he instructed State Minister Ali Babacan to spend one week of every month in Europe was the first signal that the government had decided to handle the issue again.

As a matter of fact, Babacan, accompanied by journalists, visited three EU capitals last week. Erdogan met Tony Blair on the way back from the United States and hosted German Chancellor Angela Merkel when he returned to Turkey.

As such, Erdogan made his own contribution to this process. Probably for this very reason, Minister Gul decided to travel to the Troika meeting accompanied by a large delegation.

Though the increasing frequency of these visits reinforces the image that the European Union agenda has not been forgotten, the government, claiming it is distancing itself from a populist discourse, will be mainly tested on the issue of article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code.

This is the right time to take a step for freedom of thought and gain the approval of the EU because its attitude toward Turkey softened after France’s ban on freedom of expression.

However, the government’s wait-and-see approach has resulted in a slowing down, and as a result, our criticisms against France weaken.




All wars of independence are tragic
October 17, 2006
AYŞE ÖZGÜN

I try not to miss the program “Dateline London” on BBC World every Sunday evening. The last one was exceptionally educational for me and I'd like to tell you why.

When the subject of restriction of speech in France on the alleged Ottoman genocide act came up, Mark Roche of Le Monde lit up like the headlights of an airplane landing on a pitch dark night.

“I agree with President [Jacques] Chirac and the French parliament because the Turkish people refuse to acknowledge that they committed a genocide on the Armenian people. The Germans have accepted and apologized for the Holocaust, so the Turkish people should too. This is completely a moral issue.”

Hearing this from a journalist working for the famous Le Monde, I sat up and took notice. This gentleman did not know what he was talking about. Obviously he was writing on this issue without any true knowledge on the subject. That was a scary notion. I tried to figure out why a journalist would do that.

M. Roche, don't you know that the Armenian subjects of the Ottoman Empire were first coaxed by the Russians -- and then by your good selves -- to rise up and fight against the Ottoman Empire with the promise of victory, allowing them to build their own country? A fair enough goal in my view. Wasn't that the reason you and the Russians led them to believe they could accomplish this? Wasn't that the reason that first the Russians and then you, the French, dressed them up in Russian and French uniforms, armed them with rifles and ammunition and led them on to fight for their independence from Ottoman rule? Your army generals at the time surely recorded just how bloody and cruel this fight must have been. The French-soldier-like Armenians burned down villages, massacred women and children, burned congregations in mosques. They were fighting their war of independence. How does the saying go? All is fair in love and war? Both sides suffered terribly and casualties were tremendous. They have their sad stories and we have the tragic tales of our ancestors.

In the end, however, the Ottomans won and Armenian independence was never realized. I can see how hurtful it must be when the people you have been rooting for lose. I can imagine how such a loss could plant extreme anger in the French towards the Ottomans and, later, the Turks. In fact, forgive me for saying it, sometimes I wonder if it goes beyond the boundaries of anger and turns into downright hate. But then I ask the French this: How come you did not support the Armenians with French troops? You were initiators but not follow-uppers. The test of time for friendship is not when the days are sunny and balmy but when they are bloody and tragic. Did the French fail the test and are now trying to make up for it?

Genocide, by definition, is a deliberate plan and a “recorded” decree followed by decisive action to wipe a certain section or the whole population of an ethnic group from the face of the earth. All are present in the case of the German Holocaust. The Jews were not asked to walk away from Germany with their belongings but were boiled, burned and suffocated in death camps. The smell still lingers. Of course the Germans had to accept and apologize for what their forbears did during Hitler's time.

The total of Armenian subjects in Anatolia according to Ottoman records was 1.3 million people. At a census taken after 1918, Armenian subjects in Anatolia totaled 644,900. During the evacuation, rations were given to the people and U.S. food supplies were distributed under U.S. control by embassy officials. Talat Paşa took to court all those who attacked the evacuees and 67 received capital punishment. With regards to the famous Blue Book of accounts, the writer Toynbee later admitted to having been misled.

Genocide as practiced during the Holocaust and according to Nuremberg-recognized records was not about land, borders or independence, whereas the Armenian issue is and therefore it is a tremendous tragedy that cannot possibly be classified as “genocide.”

The War of Independence took its toll on all sides. It led to tragedies of vast proportions. Hundreds of thousands of the subjects of the Ottoman Empire (600,000 to be exact) -- among them Kurds, Laz, Circassians and other ethnic groups -- were killed as a result of the Armenians' attempt at independence.

Bari Atwan Bey spoke realistically and told everyone that the EU did not want Turkey as a member and was therefore setting up these stipulations so that Turkey would get fed up and say it didn't want to enter anyway.

That is about when M. Roche turned into a little child and let the cat out of the bag by shouting: “But don't you see Turkey will kill the EU? They will kill us. They will finish Europe.”

I had never heard such fear in a man's voice before. I would like to know who raised this man and what tales they told him.

I don't want to pass medical judgment on anyone, but we witnessed a severe case of disturbance in M. Roche right in front of our very eyes on “Dateline London” the other night, and I feel we really need to help him. He should be invited to Istanbul with his family and meet with his peers and the Armenian community of Turkey. After he sees the true picture -- that there is nothing to be scared of about the Turkish people -- the richness and vastness of this fertile land, its hidden and obvious treasures as well as our smiling faces and hospitable attitude, he will be free of his fears. Then perhaps he will also have a chance to look into the Ottoman archives and see that genocide was not carried out against the Armenian subjects but that tragedies were experienced as a result of their trying to gain independence.




From the columns
October 17, 2006
PRESS SCANNER
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News

Troika and triumvirate:
Sabah's Erdal Şafak yesterday wrote about Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül's planned first meetings between the European Union Troika (Finland, Germany, the next term president, and the EC) and Turkey after Ankara and the bloc wrapped up the screening phase in negotiations last week. Şafak notes that “Troika” is taken from the Russian “troyka,” which was used by the Soviet Union to describe the three ruling powers: the president, the prime minister and the secretary general of the Communist Party. Şafak notes that the romance language based “triumvirate” refers to a tri-party administration. According to news stories prior to the meeting, the EU Troika is set to reiterate its displeasure with Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) and Turkey's refusal to open its ports to the Greek Cyprus. The talks are going to be dominated by the “Cyprus package” prepared by term president Finland. The suggestion package includes opening the Turkish port of Famagusta for two years, under U.N. supervision, and handing the town of Maraş (on the Turkish side of the island) to the United Nations. After two years, the Greeks will return to Maraş, and the city will be handed over to the Greek administration. In return for these compromises, the Turkish Cypriot economy will gain $10 million annually when economic isolation is lifted, according to estimates. Despite promises that isolation of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) would end following the referendum of April 24, the EU now wants this promise to be dismissed and is leaving the KKTC to the goodwill of the Greek Cypriots and attempting to render the country deprived of an important card in talks for a settlement on the island. The EU with its Troika -- that is triumvirate -- is expecting us to say “Ave Caesar morituri te salutant!” (Hail, Caesar! Those who are about to die salute you!), just like Roman gladiators. It had better find itself some other warrior.

Orhan Pamuk should be arrested!:
Yeni Şafak's Mehmet Şeker yesterday sarcastically said Orhan Pamuk should be arrested the minute he sets foot in Turkey for having divided the country with his Nobel. The country has been separated into “those who are happy about the Nobel” and “those who feel sad because he won a Nobel.” Even jailed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan has not been this successful in separatism. For the first time, a Turkish writer gets the Nobel Prize in Literature and we start fighting each other. Before he won the Nobel, some people openly declared he would not be awarded one before Yaşar Kemal. Now, he is not an ordinary man, he is somebody who's won the Nobel. It is almost like a law making it mandatory to like Pamuk will be passed, and in addition making it compulsory to be happy about his Nobel. Most certainly, a Turkish author winning the Nobel for the first time is a source of pride. In this sense, we congratulate Pamuk. Since he himself is not available in Turkey at the moment, we'll celebrate the Nobel among ourselves. However, do we have to ostracize those who openly criticize? It is almost as if that we will have to regret that he said that Turks killed 1 million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds.

Religion does not defy reason!:
Vatan's Güngör Mengi yesterday mused on the position of religion in society and culture. Religion is an indispensable part of culture. According to Leszek Kolakowski, a professor of philosophy from the Oxford and Chicago universities, religious needs cannot be ostracized from a culture through rational spells and human beings cannot survive on reason alone. Rational individuals owning up to their religion in Muslim countries and enabling their societies to go through an enlightenment process such as the one that Christian nations have undergone is the only salvation from fundamentalist primitivism. It is also a chance for dialogue between civilizations. It is in this sense we should read the letter written by religious leaders of 25 Muslim countries. The more responsible steps Muslim intellectuals take, the more Islamophobia in the West will regress. These efforts should be encouraged.

I congratulate Orhan Pamuk:
Milliyet's Taha Akyol wrote yesterday about Pamuk's Nobel for literature. We've been longing for a Nobel for many years. It has finally happened. As Pamuk himself has stated, this award was given to Turkish literature. I've always criticized sharp statements about Pamuk. I've always said that there are two Orhan Pamuks and praised the great writer of the East/West divide, while criticizing the sensationalist marketer Pamuk. Pamuk has been elevated so high with this prize, now the “other Pamuk” is a burden on him. I hope he will opt for political maturity.




We couldn't enjoy the Nobel
October 17, 2006
Mehmet Ali Birand

The reactions to Orhan Pamuk for winning the Nobel Prize for Literature once again showed how confused we are. However, there is also an ‘ugly’ side to this story. I am not talking about those who made negative statements because they were angry or jealous. Some seemed to praise him while siding with the conspiracy theorists.

I sometimes face such incidents that I can't stop myself from getting surprised, upset or even angry.

Some reactions to Orhan Pamuk winning the Nobel Prize for Literature truly disappointed me.

We can divide the reactions into three groups.

1-- Rejectionists: They openly voiced the hatred they have felt towards Pamuk since the beginning. They believe there is a huge conspiracy afoot and that Pamuk only received the prize because he was opposed to Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) and due to his statements on the Armenian and Kurdish issues. If Pamuk had not voiced his opinions, he would never have won the award, they say. This is why they believe he should not be praised.

I understand the actions of this group.

They view the developments through a purely official mentality. They wave the nationalist flag. While I don't agree with them, they believe in their principles and are consistent.

2-- Jealous ones: Turkish literature failed in this test. Only a minority was courageous enough to both praise and openly congratulate Pamuk. Another group hid behind the nationalist flag and insinuated that there was something else involved in Pamuk winning the prize. Actually, they are going mad in their jealousy. They are asking themselves why it wasn't them who won the prize and have suddenly come up with the answer, “Of course, the Armenians were involved.”

3-- Cunning ones: These were the ones who angered me the most. They usually say they are democrats. They have liberal ideas. They are secular but they don't stand behind their principles. They try to seem sympathetic to both democrats and the far right. They fear loss of support. They appeared as if they were praising Pamuk but also implied that conspiracy theorists had valid points. They failed to take a clear stance. These people were the biggest disappointment. They just lacked the courage to openly say what they believed in.

At the end of the day, we once again showed how confused we are. This showed we still haven't come to grips with freedom of expression, confusing nationalism with the principle of everyone having the right to express their opinions.

I guess we will get used to it one day.

Thank God there is Radikal:

Time flies.

It's been 10 years.

The day when Radikal was first published, it was like a breath of fresh air. It was clean and orderly, lacking the confusion of colors that dominated other papers. It had a modern presentation and serious outlook.

In time, this was reflected in the articles and general attitude of Radikal.

It became a newspaper for those with a liberal outlook on life, making some say “That's exactly what I think” with its headlines and reports. It also included columnists who thought differently, showing both sides of the coin.

This success is mainly due to Editor in Chief İsmet Berkan and the team around him. Berkan's columns reflect the general outlook of the paper perfectly. Murat Yetkin from Ankara provides a sensible contribution from Ankara.

In summary, Radikal is a fabulous orchestra. I definitely recommend it if you haven't read it before and share the same world view. Just read it for a few days. I'm sure you'll never let it go. If you follow an alternative view, don't bother.

An interesting assessment by Dink:
One of the guests of last week's 32. Gün (32nd Day) news program was Agos daily Editor in Chief Hrant Dink. An assessment he made was very interesting. He said the French bill that was passed last week would hurt the Armenian diaspora more than it did Turkey.

According to Dink, in the past Armenians had a moral superiority over Turkey on the international stage. They were seen as a nation victimized by Turks. With this bill, this superiority will decrease. The bill is so idiotic that Armenians will be seen as forcefully silencing Turks. The people will start to think that Turks are being treated unfairly.

I had never looked at the matter from this perspective.

What he says actually makes perfect sense.

Such an impression may truly change the world's opinion of us. Especially if we play the game carefully.




Exploiting decision of French Parliament
October 17, 2006
Cengiz Aktar

The decision taken by the French national parliament last Thursday was caused by something deeper than politicians seeking support from voters of Armenian origin, the lobbying success of the Armenian diaspora or the compassionate sentiments of the French public resulting from the Armenian drama. The decision is based on the chronic concern the French political elite, both on the right and on the left, feels towards Turkey proceeding along its European Union process and the impudent indifference they display towards the EU that they founded. With the decision, the Armenian issue has become a part of people's sentiments, sacrificing Turkish-Armenian dialogue in the process.

The French right has been aligned against our country's EU membership perspective since 2004. The bigger partner in the governing coalition, the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) and the smaller one, the Union for French Democracy (UDF), openly voiced their objection to Turkey's membership as the negotiations neared. Due to their pressure, France will hold a referendum when our country is ready for admission. During last year's referendum on the constitution, these parties' campaigns were centered on anti-Turkish sentiments. While President Jacques Chirac and the current French government don't openly back such sentiment, there are many ministers within the Cabinet, especially Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, who do. The opposition is for the most part covertly anti-Turkish. Both sides of French politics are dominated by an orientalist mindset of the last century that equates the East with underdevelopment, institutionalizing Islam's disharmony with modernity and perceiving Turkey as the enemy because it runs counter to these beliefs.

With this mindset, it is impossible for them to place Turkey as a partner in the EU project into the consciousness. Their bias is expected. The opposition and the government voting together for the bill as if it was a national cause is very meaningful. The French politicians' outlook towards Turkey and the EU, pressuring Turkey and preventing the EU's enlargement won't change too easily.

A new opportunity?

On the other hand, this imprudence is pushing the perception of Turkey from Europe to a different sphere. Until very recently, the general outlook of Europe towards our many problems was based on belittling and leaving us alone to solve them. However, the growing anti-Turkish sentiment and the bill have started to create concern among many European opinion leaders and decision-makers, including the French ones. Former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fisher, former British EU Minister Denis Macshane, current EU term president Finland's Parliament Speaker Lipponen, European Commission President Jose-Manuel Barosso, Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Andrew Duff, Joost Lagendijk from the European Parliament and many other less influential politicians have now started to remind people that Turkey is Europe's partner and should be perceived as such.

Even the French Foreign Ministry, which is constantly erecting obstacles in the way of our negotiations, was last week forced to say: “Turkey is a candidate for the EU. The relations emphasize Turkey's European perspective, and we are in support of it.”

These may be the first signs of antipathy for Turkey transforming into empathy. The central issue is improving rights and freedoms and continuing with the transformation, refraining from getting third parties involved in contentious issues like the Armenian matter and as a result preventing these third parties from getting the opportunity to create obstacles.




Turkish Parliament Gives up Algerian Genocide Law
By Fatih Atik, Ankara
October 17, 2006
zaman.com

It is not clear just what kind of official retaliatory move Turkey will take after the French National Assembly adopted a bill on Thursday that would make it a crime to deny that Turks committed an Armenian genocide during World War I.

The Turkish Parliament Justice Sub-committee launched studies about a law proposal that would make it a crime to deny that France committed genocide in Algeria.

Members of the committee listened to Turkish History Society President Professor Yusuf Halacoglu and officials from the foreign ministry in their first meeting yesterday.

Professor Halacoglu provided historical information to the committee about Armenian violence in Turkey.

Halacoglu claimed that Armenians were freer than Turks during Ottoman times, recalling that Armenian citizens did not have to perform compulsory military service until 1876.

The commission will reportedly not accept the proposal that would make it a crime to deny that France committed genocide in Algeria.

Instead of enacting the law, the Turkish Parliament will prepare a text in which Turkey’s practices in the field of human rights and freedoms will be explained.

The commission members decided that the Turkish History Society and the Foreign Ministry should conduct a detailed study on the Armenian genocide allegations.

The history of countries that officially recognize an Armenian genocide will also be examined in this context to see whether such cases occurred in their own past.

The study will explain the circumstances under which Turkey decided to deport Armenians in 1915.

The commission members will discuss reports to come from the Turkish History Society and Foreign Ministry in their second meeting.




Finnish FM: French passage of Armenian bill is 'foolish'
The New Anatolian / Ankara
17 October 2006

In the view of Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, the French Parliament's passage of a bill to criminalize questioning of Armenian genocide claims is a "foolish" move.

Tuomioja, whose country holds the rotating European Union term presidency, posted the remarks at the website virtual.finland.fi over the weekend, saying, "It's not right for parliaments and governments to interfere in such issues through legislating them, no matter whether they are based on historic truths or not."

Tuomioja also warned that the decision of the French Parliament could strengthen the hand of nationalist circles in Turkey.

However, the Finnish foreign minister stated that there is no relation between what happened to Armenians in Turkey in the past and his description of the French Parliament passage of the Armenian bill as "foolish" or his hope for the bill's withdrawal. "I personally think that 'genocide' is the right term to describe the events of the past and at the same time I hope Turkey will become ready to accept this reality," he added.




Oskanian vows Turkey will recognize 'genocide'
The New Anatolian / Moscow
17 October 2006

Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian stated on Monday that the international community will succeed in making Turkey recognize an Armenian "genocide" by working in cooperation.

Speaking to Armenian state TV, Oskanian said, "The passage of the bill by the French Parliament gave Turkey a stronger and louder signal. That country can't continue to maintain that it is innocent from now on."

Stressing that the decision doesn't aim at creating obstacles for Turkey's bid to join the European Union, Oskanian said, "I hope the French Parliament's decision and Orhan Pamuk's Nobel prize will push Turkey in the right direction. Turkey has to understand that Armenia will never humiliate itself. We will succeed in our efforts for recognition of the Armenian 'genocide' by Turkey."

Touching on Pamuk's Nobel prize, the Armenian foreign minister said, "We greatly appreciate his success; he's on the right track."

Last year Pamuk publicly said "one million Armenians" were killed in Turkey, but never used the word "genocide." He has also come out against the French bill criminalizing "genocide" denial.




Poll: Majority of French oppose Armenian bill
The New Anatolian / Paris
17 October 2006

The majority of French people are against the Armenian bill that was passed by the French Parliament last week introducing prison terms and fines for those who question the genocide claims, a new public opinion poll found.

According to an Internet poll, 68 percent of French people oppose the bill while only 26 percent support it. Just 6 percent of participants in the poll declined to comment on the controversial measure.

While those opposing the bill thinks it serves Armenian interests, some stated that it could create danger for Armenians living in Turkey.




PM calls on all to embrace Pamuk
October 17, 2006
ANKARA - TDN with wire services

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has called on his compatriots to wholeheartedly embrace winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize for Literature Orhan Pamuk and to "put aside" the controversies he has stirred up in the past, in remarks published on Monday.

"Let's put aside the polemics. The prize is a first for a son of Turkey, and it would be wrong for us to underestimate it," Erdoğan said in a television interview to be aired late on Monday, excerpts of which were published in the mass-circulation daily Hürriyet.

"We must congratulate him," he said. "It would be wrong to mix what Pamuk has said in the past and the fact that he has won this award."

The 54-year-old Pamuk, who has long had bad blood with the state, landed himself in court on charges of "insulting Turkishness" and won the reputation of a "traitor" among nationalist circles when he told a Swiss magazine last year that "1 million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds were killed in these lands."

His remarks were widely seen as an acknowledgement that the Ottoman Turks committed genocide against Armenians during World War I, a label that Ankara fiercely rejects.

Ironically, Thursday's announcement of his Nobel Prize came shortly after the lower house of the French parliament voted on a bill that would make it a crime to deny that the killings were genocide, infuriating Ankara.

The celebration of Pamuk's award at home was overshadowed by skeptics who argued that the author won the favors of the West not for his literary skills but for his vocal criticism of his country

The divisions plagued even the highest state echelons: While Erdoğan personally called Pamuk, currently in New York, to congratulate him, President Ahmet Necdet Sezer has remained silent, contrary to his tradition of issuing congratulations to international achievements by Turks.

On Friday, Pamuk joined the chorus of criticism of the French bill, saying that it flouted France's "tradition of liberal and critical thinking."

The court case against Pamuk, in which he risked up to three years in jail, was dropped on a technicality in January.

The writer first drew the ire of the state in the mid-1990s when he denounced what he called heavy-handed policies against the Kurdish minority.

The state extended an olive branch in 1998, offering him the accolade of "State Artist," but Pamuk declined.




Turkish Press Yesterday
October 17, 2006
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News

Orhan said something wrong:

Sabah yesterday featured an interview with Şekure Basman, mother of Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk, whose statements supporting the view that mass killings of Armenians at the hand of Turks in 1915 were tantamount to genocide had infuriated the Turkish public. Basman spoke for the first time about her son's comment. Pamuk had said, “1 million Armenians were killed” in this land. She said “Orhan told a tiny European newspaper something wrong; however, the Turkish press made a big deal out of this. It would not let go of the incident. Although the government wanted to downplay that interview, the press really pushed it.”

“I have no idea about the Armenian incidents. We were never taught about it in school. Neither was Orhan. I guess he had wrong information. When I heard that he had won the Nobel, I said to myself, ‘Oh my God, what are they going to say now?'”

Gül: We are stronger now:

Radikal yesterday reported on statements by Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül evaluating the popularity of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) for voters. The minister confidently said, “We would come back even stronger if we held elections today.”

In addition, Gül said he was carefully examining a recent statement by True Path Party (DYP) leader Mehmet Ağar, who recently underlined that Turkey's problem with separatist violence could be solved only if the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) members were invited to engage in politics in the city, instead of fighting for their cause on mountaintops. Ağar's words -- interpreted by most as a call for a general amnesty for PKK members -- had attracted negative reaction from the commander of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK). Gül had announced support for Ağar.

Indecent proposal that even shocked Germans:

A news story that was mentioned briefly in the foreign news sections of most newspapers was headlined yesterday by Yeni Şafak.

German deputies of Turkish origin called on Muslim women who cast their votes in favor of them to take off their Islamic-style headscarf and comply with German customs, said Yeni Şafak's report, going on to say the call indicates that the deputies have an inferiority complex. Their "assimilation" campaign caused anger among the Turkish community in Germany and even the Germans haven't gone that far, said the paper.

Social Democratic Party (SDP) deputy of Turkish origin Lale Akgün was daring enough to suggest that headscarves “did not look good” on women. Ekin Deligöz of the Green Party said, “You live here, take your headscarves off,” which was something that even the Germans have not said, according to Yeni Şafak.

Another deputy of Turkish origin, Mehmet Daimagüler, from the Free Democrat Party (FDP) -- which strongly opposes Turkish membership in the European Union -- went even farther and called for “assimilation.” The deputy called on Turkish women to get rid of the scarves and act in accordance with German traditions to prove their loyalty to Germany.

Yeni Şafak reported that Turkish women sent a barrage of messages to the Web sites of newspapers and journals in Turkey saying they were not going to pay lip service to these deputies who suffer from an inferiority complex and who are trying to gain the favor of their party leaders. “They will not get our votes,” they said.

Central bank, withdraw this money:

Bugün yesterday reported that YTL 17 billion of the central bank's foreign exchange reserves were being kept in France.

Pressure on the central bank to deal a “reserve blow” to France has been increasing, the daily said. The Turkish Central Bank has invested YTL 17 billion in French government bonds and has the right to pull this money out at any time and invest in another country.

Diplomacy and economy experts said a decision to withdraw foreign currency reserves from France would be the greatest economic and political message that Turkey could send.

Critical PKK bargain:

Cumhuriyet yesterday reported that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was set to visit Ankara at the invitation of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Al-Maliki will be told one more time that Turkey expects determined and concrete steps to root out the PKK.

Cumhuriyet said recent statements made by Maliki on Kirkuk and the PKK signaled that the talks were going to be very difficult. A tough and critical bargain will take place between Ankara and Iraq, the daily said.

Facing trial at the age of 92:

Vatan yesterday reported that Muazzez İlmiye Çığ, the world's most renowned Sumerologist and 92 years old, was facing charges of having stated that Sumerian women were the first ones to wear a headscarf in history.

Çığ said: “Covering one's head existed before the Christian era, but that was not for religious purposes. It served the function of showing a woman's social standing. This is a historical fact. Now if I get convicted for this reason, I would never apply to the European Court of Human Rights. I would never sink as low as to accuse my own country.”

I apologize:

Hürriyet yesterday reported that Erdoğan had apologized for his words “the military is no place to sit and relax,” said in reply to a citizen's outcry that “we don't want to see soldiers' funerals anymore.”

The prime minister said: “I am sorry if my words ‘the army is no place to sit and relax' were misunderstood. If I offended someone by saying that, I apologize to those mothers and fathers.”

Parliament will respond to the genocide bill in France:

Zaman yesterday said Turkey was staging strong and multifaceted campaigns to show its displeasure with the French parliament's adoption of a law making it a crime to deny that the 1915 killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks was tantamount to genocide.

The Turkish Parliament, which will take up the issue on Tuesday, is expected to issue a formal note of condemnation to France.

They liked that kid's book:

Yaşar Kemal, one of the most famous faces of Turkish literature and taken to be a master writer almost without exception, talked to Milliyet yesterday about Orhan Pamuk's Nobel Prize. Kemal said, “Orhan Pamuk deserved the Nobel. They liked that kid's books. I don't believe it was political.”

In addition, Kemal said he did not want a Nobel, adding, “However, I wouldn't turn it down if I were awarded one.”




Diplomacy Newsline
October 17, 2006

Tuomioja says adoption of French bill ‘foolish':
ANK - Turkish Daily News

Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja said that the French parliament's decision to pass a bill that criminalizes any denial of the alleged Armenian genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Empire was “foolish.”

“When I say that I regard the decision to be foolish and hope for its rapid withdrawal, it has nothing to do with what happened to the Armenians in Turkey,” Tuomioja was quoted as saying in an Internet diary entry posted over the weekend.

“Personally I consider genocide to be the right word to describe what happened and hope that the Turks would be prepared to accept this as well. However, parliaments and governments are not to intervene in it by legislating which historical truths are to be allowed and which is not,” he added.

Tuomioja also said the bill would increase the power of hard-liners in Turkey.




Oskanian: Turkey cannot claim innocence anymore
October 17, 2006
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News

Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian has expressed pleasure over the French National Assembly's vote last Thursday approving a bill that would make it a crime to deny that the Armenian killings were “genocide,” describing the vote as “a stronger signal given to Turkey.”

Thanks to the bill, “a stronger and louder signal is given to Turkey. This country cannot claim innocence anymore,” Oskanian was quoted as saying by the Anatolia news agency citing his remarks aired on Armenian public television.

“We will all together achieve Turkey's recognition of the Armenian genocide,” he said.

Oskanian also welcomed Turkish author Orhan Pamuk winning this year's Nobel Prize for Literature. “Orhan Pamuk is on the right track,” he said.

Pamuk caused uproar when he told a Swiss newspaper last year that nobody in Turkey dared mention what he called the killing of a million Armenians in World War I by Ottoman Turks.

Asked whether the French bill actually aimed at blocking Turkey's European Union process, Oskanian said, “I hope that the French National Assembly's decision and Pamuk's prize will put Turkey in the right way.”




FRENCH PASS BILL THAT PUNISHES DENIAL OF ARMENIAN GENOCIDE
17 October 2006, Resource : New York Times


The National Assembly, defying appeals from Turkey, approved legislation Thursday that would make it a crime to deny that the mass killings of Armenians in Turkey during and after World War I were genocide. The legislation, which was criticized by Turkey’s government and some European Union officials, could further complicate talks for Turkey’s admission to the Union.

With 106 deputies voting in favor and 19 against, the law sets fines of up to 45,000 euros, or about $56,000, and a year in prison for denying the genocide. Of the 577 members of the Assembly, 4 abstained and 448 did not vote at all, raising the question of whether there would be enough political will to push the law through the Senate.

Scholars and most Western governments have recognized the killing of more than a million Armenians by Ottoman Turks from 1915 to 1919 as genocide. But the subject is still taboo in Turkey, and charges have been pressed against writers and others who have brought attention to the genocide, including Orhan Pamuk, who was just awarded the Nobel Prize in literature.

“The Turkish people refuse the limitation of freedom of expression on the basis of groundless claims,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “With this draft law, France unfortunately loses its privileged status in the eyes of Turkish public opinion.”

Ali Babacan, the Turkish economy minister and the country’s lead negotiator on talks with Europe, said he could not rule out consequences for French companies.

“What happened in France today, we believe, is not in line with the core values of the European Union,” Mr. Babacan said, adding that the government would not encourage a boycott of French goods.

In Brussels, the European Union warned that the law could have a harmful effect on negotiations. “It would prohibit dialogue which is necessary for reconciliation on the issue,” said Krisztina Nagy, a spokeswoman for the Union. “It is not up to law to write history. Historians need to have debate.”

Turkey’s potential membership in the European Union has been a hot political topic here ahead of the presidential elections next spring. The leading candidates to succeed President Jacques Chirac, including Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy and Ségolène Royal, have agreed that Turkey must acknowledge the genocide before gaining membership. But the new legislation has been more of a campaign issue in France, which has one of Europe’s largest Armenian populations.

Although most of France’s top politicians supported the European Union’s planned constitution, the French rejected it last year in a referendum that was also seen as a vote against further European expansion. The problem for politicians seeking to succeed Mr. Chirac is how to oppose Turkish entry without taking on the xenophobic tones of the far right.

After the vote, Mr. Chirac’s government, which opposed the legislation, expressed eagerness for dialogue with Turkey and said the bill was unnecessary and inopportune. “We are very committed to dialogue with Turkey, as well as to the strong ties of friendship and cooperation which link us to that country,” said Jean-Baptiste Mattéi, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry.

Ms. Royal, who is the leading Socialist candidate for president, has loudly supported the bill. On Wednesday, she reiterated that “obviously,” Turkey would have to recognize the genocide, and added, “My opinion is that of the French people.”

Two other senior Socialists, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Jack Lang, had reservations about the bill.

On the center right, Mr. Sarkozy has opposed Turkey’s joining the European Union, but he kept silent about the genocide bill, which was sponsored by the Socialists.

A leading Turkish analyst of the European Union, Can Baydarol, said that although the decision would seem to have no direct effect on Turkey’s relations with Europe, the hostile attitude of French lawmakers demonstrated some of the obstacles to Turkish membership.

“Now people see that more than the technical details, political maneuvers will mark the years-long process on the way to full membership,” he said.




POLL: MAJORITY OF FRENCH OPPOSE ARMENIAN BILL
17 October 2006, Resource : The New Anatolian

The majority of French people are against the Armenian bill that was passed by the French Parliament last week introducing prison terms and fines for those who question the genocide claims, a new public opinion poll found.

According to an Internet poll, 68 percent of French people oppose the bill while only 26 percent support it. Just 6 percent of participants in the poll declined to comment on the controversial measure.

While those opposing the bill thinks it serves Armenian interests, some stated that it could create danger for Armenians living in Turkey.




ARINC: THIS BILL ALSO EXPLAINS WHY ARMENIANS STAGED THEIR BIGGEST TERRORIST ACTS IN FRANCE
17 October 2006
Turkish Press

"The bill (criminalizing denial of so-called Armenian genocide) also explains why Armenians staged their biggest terrorist acts in France," Turkish Parliament Speaker Bulent Arinc said on Monday.

Arinc held a briefing to mark the beginning of the new legislative year.

When a reporter said, "French President Chirac went to Yerevan and said that he admitted genocide. After the bill was adopted by French national assembly, he called Prime Minister (Recep Tayyip Erdogan) and said he was sorry. Do you think he was really sincere?" Arinc stated, "everyone knows whether he was sincere or not."

"Armenians staged their biggest terrorist acts in France. It is not a coincidence. Our ambassadors and diplomats were killed in terrorist attacks staged by Armenians in Paris," Arinc indicated.

He added that Turkish government, parliament and public opinion were following developments regarding the matter.




'TURKEY DISCRIMINATED AGAINST CONSCIOUSLY'
17 October 2006
Zaman

Democratic Leftist Party (DSP) chairman Zeki Sezer claimed that the French parliament’s passing of the bill penalizing a denial of an Armenian Genocide was not a “mental lapse ” as previously claimed, but part of a conscious and discriminative policy against Turkey.

Sezer issued a press release evaluating Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s comment stating that France had experienced a “mental lapse.”

Sezer said neglecting France’s attitude would be a fatal mistake and added that Turkey could not be alert enough against possible dangers, and should prepare for them in advance.

The DSP Leader said French President Jacques Chirac explained he would do his best to prevent the bill’s acceptance, though he noted “The French President did not say a word while the bill was passing through parliament.”




ANKARA WILLING TO RESTRICT DAMAGE, ACTS WITH COMMONSENSE
17 October 2006
Zaman

Although the French National Assembly adopted a bill on Thursday that makes it a crime to deny an Armenian genocide, Turkey is refraining from engaging in serious conflict with France and acting with commonsense.

The U.S. newspaper Washington Times reported that despite Ankara’s threat of imposing sanctions on France, it is focusing on “restricting the damage.”

A Washington Post article reported that Turkey was acting with commonsense despite retaliatory threats and a general national hatred toward France.

French President Jacques Chirac and leading politicians in the country favor recognition of the genocide issue as a precondition for Turkey’s EU membership.

The newspaper suggested that this was a tactic to exclude Turkey from the European Union.

Only 106 out of a total 577 parliamentarians in the French National Assembly approved the bill.

"Turkey's foreign trade volume with France is $10 billion; 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 necessary steps," Erdogan said in a speech.

The U.S. newspaper interpreted Erdogan’s remarks as a move to calm the tension between the two countries.




BOYCOTT RESULTS IN 30% DROP OF SALES FOR FRENCH FIRM
17 October 2006
Hürriyet

The president of the Turkish Consumers' Federation, Bulent Deniz, has announced that a boycott against French products has already resulted in an observed 30% drop in sales of goods for the Total company, a French firm operating in Turkey.

In his written statement, Deniz noted that the "No Honor to the French: A Different French Product Every Week-TOTAL" boycott had had a quick effect, and not only in Turkey, but across the EU and even in the US.

Deniz also noted that in addition to an observed 30% drop in sales of the Total company, that Total's stock market rating had dropped 0.09% on foreign markets on the first day of the boycott.

Deniz also mentioned in his statement that the sharpest proof of Turkey's hard response to the French Parliament's "genocide denial" bill approval had come with a phone call made by French President Jacques Chirac to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with Chirac promising Erdogan that the Paris administration would do its best to see the bill was not turned into formal law.

Deniz asserted that the boycott against French goods, which has begun with those produced by the Total firm, would continue each week with against a different firm, and would go on until the "genocide denial" bill was withdrawn from the French agenda. Deniz said that the second French brand to be boycotted would be announced on October 19. He ended his statement by noting that the loser in this "unfortunate" process would not in fact be Turkey, but France.




FRENCH FIRMS SET TO SUFFER FROM TURKISH ANGER OVER 'GENOCIDE' BILL
17 October 2006
Turkish Daily News

Although an official ban is unlikely, consumers and businesses are set to cold-shoulder French goods, nearly 5 billion euros worth of which entered Turkey last year. With perhaps an eye on Turkey's precarious bid to join the European Union, Turkish officials have so far rejected calls for an out-and-out boycott of French goods to protest a bill making it a crime to deny Turks committed genocide against Armenians in World War I.

But the government is still weighing other responses that may hit French firms, from blocking the country's defense and energy companies from bidding on multimillion euro contracts to the more symbolic, such as lawmakers replacing their official Peugeot cars.

And although an official ban is unlikely, consumers and businesses are set to cold-shoulder French goods, nearly 5 billion euros worth of which entered Turkey last year.

Last Thursday the French National Assembly passed a bill making it a crime to deny that the 1915-1917 killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks constituted genocide.

The bill, which stipulates a prison sentence of up to three years and a fine of up to 45,000 euros, must be approved by the French upper house and by President Jacques Chirac before it becomes law.

The result has been widespread dismay, not only in Turkey -- several hundred people rallied outside the French Consulate in Istanbul on Saturday -- but also from French historians and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

Turkey 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. But it refuses to accept this was genocide.

Armenians, who constitute a sizeable minority in France, say up to 1.5 million of their forbears were slaughtered in orchestrated killings that they maintain can only be seen as genocide.

In 2005, France and Turkey exchanged goods worth more than 8 billion euros, and French imports to Turkey were worth 4.7 billion euros.

Commercial ties between the two countries run deep. Some 250 French companies have strong links with Turkey stretching back many years.

Carmaker Renault, for example, employs hundreds of people at a factory in the northwest of the country.

As a result, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan together with the country's more liberal newspapers has appealed for calm not launching a campaign that might end up hurting the Turks more than the French. What do we have to win or lose by boycotting products? ... We should consider that with a great deal of caution, Erdoğan said on Friday, adding that his government would proceed with calm.

Lütfü Yenel, head of the Turkish affiliate of French telecoms group Alcatel, said he was astounded by calls for a boycott of his company.

But although an official ban is unlikely, Turkish consumers and businesses are expected to vent their anger by not buying French.

The country's consumer organization, for instance, has said that a boycott would begin at the 500 petrol stations in Turkey owned by France's Total.

Every week there would be an appeal to boycott products from a new French firm until the bill is scrapped, the organization threatened. From today onwards, we are going to boycott a French brand every week and show our reaction in language that France can understand,said Bülent Deniz, the group's president.

In some commercial centers in Istanbul, shops were calling on Turks not to buy French -- although it was business as usual at an outlet of French chain Lacoste in the city.

Ankara's union of traders has also decided to post on billboards in the capital pictures of products that will be boycotted such as perfumes and cosmetics, the group's head Mehmet Yiğiner said.

And across the country, commercial groups and businessmen have called on their fellow citizens to cold-shoulder French brands.




DON'T TRUST CHIRAC (TUFAN TURENC)
17 October 2006
Turkish Press

I want to write very harsh words about French President Jacque Chirac. I’m trying hard to stop myself. I don’t trust Chirac at all. His majesty called Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and told him that he was very sorry. He said that he understands and shares our feelings and criticism and that this development stems from the upcoming general elections. Then he promised that he would do his best to make sure the bill won’t become law. So kind of him! Where has he been until now as France’s president? I wonder if Chirac is making fun of the Turkish nation. They immediately forgot the show that he made in the Armenian capital Yerevan last week. I also wonder if he didn’t say last week that each country has to face up to its tragedies and mistakes in the past in line with its level of development and that Turkey should recognize the Armenian genocide in order to gain European Union membership. What sort of a statesmanship is this? How can the Turkish nation trust a president whose words now contradict what he said just a week before? Who can guarantee that his majesty won’t say something against Turkey tomorrow? Chirac should realize that the Turkish nation knows better than to take him seriously.

I wonder what Erdogan and the Cabinet ministers think about Chirac. I believe they don’t trust him either. Turkey should act coolly now. We should see that this nonsensical, illogical law which completely violates democratic values has damaged France’s international respectability and we should make use of it very well. We should make a dignified response to this hostile stance of France. Let’s not sully our just cause with pointless displays like throwing eggs at the doors and windows of French representatives and setting their flag on fire. Let’s not forget that trying to impose excessive sanctions on commercial interests would only harm us. The Turkish Republic is a state of law. Harming French firms which have invested in Turkey would hit us like a boomerang. Our struggle with France should be done through political and legal avenues. Turkey has the resources, experience and diplomatic culture to do this.




GENOCIDE OF FREEDOM OF THOUGHT (MUSTAFA BALBAY)
17 October 2006
Turkish Press

The French Parliament didn’t surprise anyone. The bill deeming it a crime to reject the so-called Armenian genocide was passed by a vote of 106-19. France was recorded in the history books as a country which enacts a law over history and which even puts history on trial. I offer my condolences to freedom of thought. Firstly, decisions were made on claims on the so-called Armenian genocide. Parliaments of various countries decided that a genocide was carried out against Armenians in 1915. Then articles condemning those who allegedly did this were added. Then new laws replaced these decisions. Laws emphasized that the successors of the Ottomans -- in other words, Turks -- should apologize to Armenians. Now we’ve reached a point when it’s a crime to even discuss the genocide with France. France previously enacted a law indicating that the Jewish people had suffered from the Holocaust during World War II and that it was a crime to deny it. The genocide against the Jews is proven through documents. However, there’s neither a court decision nor a conclusion agreed on by the lawyers about what happened in 1915. Yesterday France committed genocide against freedom of thought.

We can summarize the actual state of the issue this way. If we ask history how relations between the French and Armenians were during and just before World War I, I think it will start with the fact that the French people made Armenians wear their uniforms and ordered them to wage war on their behalf of them, and that the Armenians did everything to get the things they were promised. In this sense, maybe France is apologizing to the Armenians! I also wonder if France is laying the basis so Turkey can be cut off from the West completely. Of course, they know that such a law will be greatly criticized in Turkey. What’s more, this law might create a basis for debate when it has to be applied it in the future. Considering France as a whole with its stance and steps in recent years, France is getting smaller in every sense!

So what are we going to do? Normally, we respond only when the Armenian claims hurt us very much. For example, we learned back in May that France might enact this law. Back then, there was some criticism but the French Parliament adopted the view that the bill would be debated and then voted on. Then it was debated and the date for the vote was set nearly three weeks ago. However, Turkey raised its voice only at the last moment. We need a longer roadmap and we should assume that this disease might spread outside France. The issue should be evaluated supra-governmentally, and we should look for a possible way out.




THE FRENCH DECISION: RATIONALITY OF STUPIDITY? (HUSEYIN BAGCI)
17 October 2006
The New Anatolian

The expected result has been taken in the French parliament with 119 yes votes for the ‘’Genocide law’’ whereas 448 French parlamentaries were not present in the parliament. This is indeed very black day for French democracy. If it is so important to accuse a nation, being responsible for Genocide it should be a historic votum not like this. The Armenian diaspora is happy but nothing has been achieved. The critics all over the world to the french parliament decision and to the french politicians is actually something what Turkey could not achieve by paying huge lobbiying expenses. Thanks got , in the world there is a common sense and the French Parliament was not making a good image on this very day 12 of October.

The Turks are interesting people. Not the Armenians but theOttomans and modern Turks paid a great importance to the French culture and political values. Since 19th century, Turkey was taking France as the leader of enlightment and secularism and revolutionary ideas with naitonalism.French culture is very deep in Turkey not only the mother of the Sultan Mahmut the Second was a french woman and he was speaking french as a mother tongue but also the Freench language was the lingua franca also among the Turkish intellectuals as well as politicaly oppressed Ottoman intelligentsia who found an intellectual home in paris in the eintire 19th and 20 century. Even the state founder Atatürk was very much impressed by the french political and cultural values and sent thousand of the students of the new republic to study in France. The Galatasaray Lyceee and now Galatasaray University are the best examples of this cultural interaction. The Turks paid a very high respect to the french intellectuals and politicians and all the French classics are translated in to Turkish language after the Turkish republic has been established.

The entire reform process in the 19th century was carried out also by the French contribution even when Ottoman empire was fighting against Russia in Crimea, it was french army together with Great Britain who came to help to the ‘’sick man of Europe’’ in those years from 1853-56. History is interesting, it was Suleiman the magficiant who helped actualy to the French King Francois the first and even their emperor Napolean accepted the political and mlitary power of the Ottomans and wanted even to be an Ambassador in Istanbul.

The Turks became the target of the french imperialism and colonialism in the 19th and early 20th century. When the french army occopied the southern part of Turkey, the cities Urfa, maraş and Antep delivered a great resistance to the French occupation where the Armenian subjects of the Ottoman sultan were collobarating with the French occupiers in the french uniforms. French government was also among the first few govewrnments which recognised the government in Ankara in 1921 and started diplomatic relations.

The decolonisation period from 1945 to 1962 saw atrocities and genocides od the french army in a way that could be read in the book of Peter Shall Latour with the title’’ the death in rice field’’. What French soldiers have done in the Indo China are cewrtainly accepted by the french intellectuals and politicians but the fact remain that France is responsible for the death of thousand of innocent civilian people too during this decolonisation period. The biggest mistake of modern Turkish history has been taking side on the French and British Army during the Suez Cahnnel cirisis in 1956 which rightly created an anti-Turkish feelings among the Arab intelllectuals. Also in 1958 Turkey stand by to France in the UN decision concerning the Algier. The revolution in Algier lasted even longer than the American independence War and more than 1 million Algerians lost their lives. Turkish government supported the French position with the intention to keep Europes and the West security in tact. Now, the Turks are not aloowed to say antyhing to the decision of the French parliament because they supported wrong party. Yet, the nations make many mistakes but in 1975 after Turkey intervened in Cyprus, the French politics supported the Greek politicis because Mr. Karamanlis was in exile in Paris. The french president Valery Giscardasdein made it possible together with the German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt that Greece should be taken as soon as possible in the European Economic Union (before it became the EU). When Turkey was attacked in the UN by the french permanent representative so harshly than Turkish ambasador to the UN Osman Olcay responded calmly saying, Mr. Ambasador for how many mirage jet fighter selling busniess you sold your soul to the Greek government.

Most probably, because of the respect for french philosphy, culture and politics the Turks were realy polite not to say anything to the French politicians also in recent years. But since October 12,2006 France lost a big nation admiring French culture and philosphy. How the certain french politicians can be so shortsighted is not the responsibility of the Turks but rather French nation. France should not expect big reactions in economic sense. It is not economic values which are destroyed but rather feelings to a great nation France which made so many values truly global. It is not political decision which made so some thousand s of diaspora Armenians happy but rather to distort the history with this wrong decision. The Turks will not admire the French anymore and this is not limited to the Turks only in Turkey but the enitre Turkish and islamic world. We the Turks whe have apolized our wrong doing to the Algerians when late president Turgut Özal visited this country in the late 1980’s.


The french decison created a very long lasting psychological wound in the heart of the Turkish nation. If the politicians like Mr. Sarkoszy who are even not yet elected and taking Turkey as a political tool for domestic purposes, make a big mistake. I do remember one of his advisers Alexander del Val who has written the book ‘’Turkey’s dance with the West’’ in our common appearance in a debate in the La Sapienza Universitaet in Rome. He was spaeking about a Turkey which was not real and he hated Kemal Atatürk in a way that it was not academic anymore. If the young french intellectuals are like this than not Turkey but Europe and the world will have a french problem. In this debate, I said only, it not my country what you describe. I congratulate you that you distort history so. You may not agree with all but you have to understand. To undertand does not mean to accept. However, his statement was also rejected by all Italian intellectuals who were there present. My point was, with this type of intellectual decadence and behaviour only French culture will lose. We the Turks are not responsible for that if the otherside is blind and does not have any interest to understand. Later on, I thought, why the young French intellectuals have this attitude. I did found the answer in the book of the great French political scientist Alfred Grosser’s book ‘Wie anders ist Frankreich’’, (How different is France?)Verlag Beck, 2005, ISBN 3 406 52879 I.
At least, I do understand now why the French parliament has taken this decision but I do not accept this. As Grosser explains, it is the French way which reminds me to Frank Sinatra ‘’everyone has its own way’’. Turks enjoy now the international scenery and the French politics has to pay the price in the long run. The hürriyet Daily from the October 12 explained everything: stupidite!!!!




France in denial
International Herald Tribune
October 17, 2006

We have argued many times that Turkey must come to grips with the crimes of its past and stop prosecuting writers who mention the Armenian genocide of the early 20th century. But we found it as absurd and as cynical when the French National Assembly voted overwhelmingly last week to make it illegal - on pain of a fine and imprisonment - to deny that there was an Armenian genocide.

France's Senate still has a chance to throw out this outrageous bill, and we hope it does. We hope, too, that the Turks do not retaliate with something similarly nutty, like making it a crime to deny French colonial atrocities in Algeria, as some legislators have suggested. Enough damage has already been done.

There is no doubt that the sooner Turks confront their past the better. They are beginning to, in large part because of the lure of membership in the European Union. That does not excuse the way French politicians are trying to exploit anti-Turkish feelings while playing up to the large Armenian-French constituency.

There are a lot of reasons why this is wrong. It could further fan anti- Muslim feelings in France, and we have already seen the potential for a violent backlash. It is also a blow to freedom of expression - not exactly the standard that EU members want to set while they lecture the Turks about being more respectful of human rights and democratic norms.

Yes, France is one of a dozen European countries that have laws against denying the Holocaust. There is an argument that they, too, violate freedom of expression. But those laws at least are based on the threat posed by die-hard anti- Semites who still subscribe to Hitler's racist theories. The Armenian question poses no dangers in France. Playing politics with it trivializes not only the Holocaust, but also the Armenian genocide.

Copyright © 2006 the International Herald




Cengiz Ozdemir: Giving back the Legion d'Honneur medal: Now that's the way to protest

Historical truths sit clearly, right in the middle for everyone to see. But for some reason, we don't seem to be able to convey them or explain ourselves. Why? It always happens this way: first of all, disaster befalls us, or is made to befall us (read: the Armenian genocide bill in France). Then we start to feel the aches and pains. But from time to time, the reactions we show are actually funnier than the events themselves.


For days now we have been talking about the French genocide denial bill. Developments in France and Holland brought this whole issue onto our agenda again. We are a people who forgets fast though. Otherwise, those who even slightly followed history would know that: genocide allegations do not stick to us, and cannot be made to stick to us.

The events of 1915 were mutual slaughter. Turks and Armenians died. But the individual Armenian terror which began in 1973 turned into organized terror by 1975, and since then, 42 of our diplomats and 4 foreigners have lost their lives as a result of it all.

***

Does it always take a catastrophe to bring us to our senses? We should know by now which "headaches" will appear before us from time to time. And we should really be prepared. And armed with knowledge.

Known as a faithful sector of the Ottoman Empire, the Armenians were provoked by the West in 1915, as they being provoked by the West today. By which I mean, in 1915, the West was a supporter of the mutual slaughter, and today, is a partner in the baseless accusations.

Speaking to journalist Can Dundar, Ismail Cem pointed out recently "Chirac's apology to Erdogan was like a joke. Chirac seems to see Turkey, the Turkish public, our press, but mostly Prime Minister Erdogan, as 'naive.' If he was even in the slightest bit genuine, he would have spoken these words of apology not in a private telephone call, but in front of the world." Don't you think Ismail Cem is right about this?

***

Today you will read in the Turkish newspapers about a response appropriate for Chirac: that Tezic, the president of the Turkish Board of Higher Education, has decided to return his medal of honor to France. It had been awarded to him in 2002. In his letter to Chirac, Tezic underscores the problem, as he sees it, with Chirac's quick rush to deny support of the recently accepted "genocide denial" bill:

"In statements, you bring to attention over and over again that the French government was outside of and not involved in this initiative by parliament members to approve the bill. But during an official visit to Armenia at the start of October, you expressed the view that 'Turks did commit a genocide against the Armenians.' In saying so, you clearly made this issue French state policy.....I can no longer carry the 'Commandeur de la Legion d'Honneur' medal which was awarded to me."

Tezic, in returning his Legion d'Honneur, has become the first person ever to do so. These actions need no more words to explain them; when you say 'protest,' this is the way to do it.

17th Oct Hurriyet




Europe, Armenian genocide, and Turkey
17/ 10/ 2006

MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti commentator Pyotr Romanov) - Armenian genocide is in the news again. There are two reasons for this.

First, the Nobel Prize for literature was awarded this year to brilliant Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk, who had barely escaped prison for publicly acknowledging the 1915Armenian genocide. This is qualified as treason by Turkish law.

He was saved by international solidarity but the pressure exerted on him by the Turkish government had its effect. Pamuk flatly refused to talk on the subject when he arrived in Moscow for the presentation of his book in Russian translation. On a human plane, this is easy to understand - the author wanted to return home to Istanbul, the main character of all his books.

To sum up, the Nobel Committee's decision has caused mixed feelings in Turkey - it is not often that it gives such a prestigious award to someone who is guilty of "high treason" at home.

The law that has just been passed by the lower chamber of the French Parliament has evoked an even bigger uproar. In a way, this is a mirror image of the Turkish law on Armenian genocide - in Istanbul the crime is to admit genocide, whereas in France it is illegal to refute it.

The adoption of this law in France was generated by domestic pre-election considerations rather than international motives. It is highly dubious that the upper chamber will approve this law, and even less likely that the President will sign it. Moreover, France officially acknowledged the Armenian genocide by passing a relevant law in 2001. President Jacques Chirac was laying a wreath to the monument to the victims of genocide at almost the same time as the Parliament voted for the recent law.

Incidentally, the official date of the Armenian genocide - 1915 - is largely a convention. There had been atrocious Armenian pogroms much earlier than that. Thus, the Turkish theory of attributing the events to the excesses of the war is not convincing. Moreover, the Turks were also slaughtering Greeks, Serbs, and many other Christians.

The wave of indignation which has swept Turkey because of Europe's renewed attention to the genocide is remarkable. The recent protests in Turkey suggest many questions. The main one is whether it is worth admitting to the EU a country that does not want to acknowledge its guilt for the heinous crimes of the past and repent them? Respect for Germany only grew when it was honest about the Holocaust. What prevents Turkey from telling the truth?

I think it would not be an exaggeration to say that the survival of European civilization in the 21st century depends on what decision the EU adopts on Turkey's admission. The excessive flow of migrants is already a heavy burden for Europe. The migrants may contribute to its culture, but every year the Europeans lose much more, and their identity is fading away amidst this carnival of newcomers. If Europe cannot absorb the migrants it already has, what will happen when it flings open its doors to Turkey? Fairy tale writers may hope that Europe stands to gain from this, but others will have to face reality.

On top of it all, there is also the religious aspect, from which Europe is trying to disassociate itself as much as possible. Meanwhile, political correctness is only indispensable in everyday life but very counterproductive when it comes to serious analysis. Looking at life through rose-tinted glasses means deliberately distorting reality, and making wrong decisions.

Speaking Aesopian language may help one avoid the "uncomfortable" word - Islam. But if you want to survive in the real world, you had better look through old newspapers, recall the names of terrorists, find out who taught them, whom they prayed to, and who gave them money. Only in this way will you be able to protect yourself and your children.

Why do Christians admit their old mistakes, repent, and ask for forgiveness? And why are Muslims reluctant to do so? As Orthodox Father Kurayev put it, instead of going into the future, rethinking and reassessing its past, Islam goes into fits of hatred from time to time under any excuse imaginable. On one occasion, it may be the problem of hijab, on another, the cartoon scandal, and on still other, a deliberate misinterpretation of an ancient quotation mentioned by Pope Benedict XVI. Every fit of hatred is directed against Christians, who are attacked and often murdered.

It is not surprising that German opera directors have recently decided to cancel a performance with a Muslim motive for fear that Muslim fanatics might go crazy. Angela Merkel made a statement against this decision, but it did not help. Europe is already filled with fear.

It would not be correct to say that every Muslim likes these fits of hatred. But the general goal of Islam is clear - to unite the Muslim world along the obvious lines. Needless to say, not every believer in Prophet Muhammad is a terrorist, but it is an indisputable fact that in the 21st century the non-Muslim world has developed serious problems with Islam.

Some people believe that these are growing pains rather than the gist of the Muslim teaching. I'd like to hope this is so. But even in this case, it is more sensible to wait until teenage aggressiveness is over before inviting such a guest home.

Others attribute Islamic extremism to impudence towards Muslims on behalf of people professing other religions. This also happens from time to time. Impudence is evil, but it should not be mixed with the right to tell Muslims the truth. In turn, they should learn to appreciate freedom of speech, and respect the opinion of others. We will get nowhere if Muslims can say and do whatever they like, and we can do nothing. This is absurdity rather than political correctness.

Still others think that social inequality is the root of all evil. This opinion is justified. We should eradicate social inequality by all reasonable, and, let me stress, evolutionary methods.

What we should not do is to fling European doors wide open without thinking about the consequences. The times have changed.

Novosti




October 17, 2006
INTERVIEW WITH NOBEL LITERATURE PRIZE WINNER ORHAN PAMUK
"An Honor for Turkish Literature"


Turkish author Orhan Pamuk was awarded the Nobel prize for literature last week. SPIEGEL spoke with him about what it means for Turkey, about his enemies, and about the clash between East and West.

AFP

Orhan Pamuk, currently teaching a creative writing class at Columbia University in New York, was awarded the Nobel prize for literature last week.
SPIEGEL: Where did the Nobel Prize Committee reach you with the news about the prize?

Pamuk: I was still asleep. I have been in New York for about 10 days now, to teach a semester of creative writing at Columbia University. It's still early morning here. It was a call from my American agent that woke me with the news. I haven't even managed to take a shower yet.

SPIEGEL: British bookies considered you a favorite this year, since you already were a top candidate in 2005. Did you actually think you might get the prize this time around?

Pamuk: Unfortunately, I've been asked about the prize a lot lately. Though I'd rather they not have, friends, journalists -- oh, just about everyone -- talked about the possibility that I would receive the prize. It was a pleasant burden, but really in the end somewhat annoying, and it left little room for much anticipation. Now, though, the conjecturing has fortunately come to an end. It's a great relief for me that no one will ask me anymore: "Orhan, when will you get the Nobel Prize?"

SPIEGEL: A number of previous prize winners have declined to go to the ceremony in Stockholm. You, though, have indicated you are happy to go to Sweden?

Pamuk: But of course. I am very aware of the honour connected with this recognition. I will travel with my daughter Rüya, just as I did for last year's presentation of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade in Frankfurt am Main. Seriously, it will be great fun. I am very much looking forward to it.

RELATED SPIEGEL ONLINE LINKS
The Lost Son: Nobel Prize Winner Pamuk Divides Turkey (10/13/2006)
The Literature of National Identity: Nobel Prize for Turkish Author Pamuk (10/12/2006)

SPIEGEL: Have you already thought about what ideas from your writings might form the framework of your acceptance speech?

Pamuk: In terms of format, I am currently looking at an essay -- a think piece in fine European tradition. I hope the prize will give me time to fulfil this ambition. I can't say anything yet about the content, but I will use the opportunity to present my views.

SPIEGEL: You are among the most beloved, but also the most controversial authors in Turkey. What do you expect the reaction to be back home?

Pamuk: This award should elicit approval and delight in Turkey. We should celebrate this as an honor for Turkish literature, which has a great history and great import. I write in the Turkish language; I am part of this literature and represent it as a prizewinner.

SPIEGEL: Your critical views of your own country also have made you some enemies. Won't this prize lead to yet more bile from your detractors?

Pamuk: More than anything I am a novelist. But for me, an author's job is not only to create linguistically accomplished works. As an author I also want to stimulate discussion.

SPIEGEL: You often address Islam and religion in your works. Do you think this had something to do with your having been awarded the prize?

Pamuk: My books are a testimony to the fact that East and West are coming together. Whether in peace or anarchy -- they are coming together. There needn't be a clash between East and West, between Islam and Europe. That's what my work stands for.

SPIEGEL: In November, your book about your home city of Istanbul -- a city that links Asia and Europe like none other -- will appear in Germany...

Pamuk: ... and I am very pleased that the Nobel Prize Committee, in elucidating their decision, expressly referred to my depiction of Istanbul as a symbol for cultural integration.

Interview conducted by Dieter Bednarz
SPIEGEL ONLINE




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18th October 2006
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Pamuk: Object of love and hate
It was wonderful to get the news about Orhan Pamuk, Turkey's most famous living author, who was awarded the most prestigious literary prize in the world. Announcing the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2006, the Swedish Academy cited Pamuk's "quest for the melancholic soul of his native city" and said he had "discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures."

In my eyes this was wonderful news, but what did others think?

Newspapers published hundreds of stories, interviews and columns about his latest laurels. Some excoriated him, while others were beaming with pride over his great success. In brief, Orhan Pamuk turned into an object of both love and hate figure for Turkey. Just one newspaper on one day, yesterday's Hurriyet, suffices to show the atmosphere created after he won. Two well-known, prestigious columnists of the paper expressed their day and night impressions about Pamuk on the same page. Emin Colasan was complaining about what Pamuk said last year -- "one million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds were killed in these lands," meaning Turkey -- and according to Colasan, the only aim of the Nobel was to reward those controversial words of Pamuk, and thereby the Western world meant to split our nation. But according to the other columnist, Ilter Turkmen, a former foreign minister, whatever is said about Pamuk's controversial stance can't erase his great success, and every Turkish citizen should be happy for that.

We Turks are simply like that: We love and hate quite easily.

And what do I think?

What if Pamuk expressed his opinion about a political issue? Does that mean changing the truth? Isn't it a kind of lynching where we all tried to put him almost to death? What do we expect from an author? To be so divorced from politics? By saying those words during an interview, did he claim to be a historian and change all the historical facts? Is it possible to expect the same stance from everyone in the world, even though Armenian and Turkish historians can't come to any agreement?

So let's give up all these stupid arguments and try to encourage not only Pamuk but also other Turkish authors to write more.

What about me?

I fell in love with his latest novel "Snow." I purposely took it with me before I went to Sarikamis, Kars (where the novel takes place) last year, I wanted to read it there exactly in the same atmosphere, during the winter. I even played games with myself, adding more authentic details from Kars to the book. I dreamed about the Kars of years ago.

His previous book, the memoir "Istanbul: Memories and the City," was also a favorite of mine; I couldn't leave it behind while I was going from place to place in Istanbul; I couldn't keep from laughing at his style of teasing with the endless encyclopedic minutiae of Istanbul.

Even though I couldn't rouse the same enthusiasm for some of his other books like "Cevdet Bey and Sons," "The House of Silence" and "The Black Book," I believe he is a great author. Okay, let me confess that although I tried very hard, I couldn't keep read them all the way through.

One other controversy is the comparison between Yasar Kemal, a still-living novelist of an earlier generation, and Pamuk. Some say Kemal deserved the prize more than Pamuk. But I remember years ago when Kemal was awarded by the French government, and almost every Turkish politician got angry with Paris. Even the Turkish ambassador to Paris had so say that he didn't attend the award ceremony. I'd like to remind Pamuk's critics of that.

Yes, I'm a bigger fan of Kemal too, I believe that he has a divine way with words, and I think he should have gotten a Nobel years ago. But anyway I'm so glad that we have such a celebrated author like Orhan Pamuk, and I hope he has a long life and produces dozens more great books.

Nursun Erel
erel@thenewanatolian.com
18 October 2006




Luxembourg, or the 'French Connection'
I'm just back from Luxembourg with Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, where Gul himself and the high-level Turkish diplomats accompanying him felt at ease in their meetings with their European Union counterparts for the first time ever in the aftermath of Turkey's accession negotiations being decided on and starting. I'm startled to read the news stories of prominent European dailies ringing alarm bells about a looming crisis between Turkey and the EU.

If I hadn't been on the journey to and from Luxembourg with Gul and if I hadn't been in the position of being able to compare the trip we made with the same team to Luxembourg four months ago, after waiting in uncertainty at the Ankara airport, I could believe what I read in those European dailies. I and the rest of the Turkish press corps -- some of whom are quite skeptical about Turkey's EU performance -- have just the contrary impression on what dominated the Luxembourg talks between the Turks and the "Troika."

Not only were the grim faces of the same officials on June 12 replaced by a jovial mood, but the tone and the wording of the EU officials in the joint press conference on Monday afternoon in Luxembourg was starkly different than on that midnight when the first chapter of the accession negotiations was declared opened and closed.

Paradoxically, on midnight of June 12 , the mood had to be a mood of celebration. Neither the EU presidency represented by Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik, nor the EU Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn had such a mood. Rehn, starkly, had warned about a "train crush." In turn, Gul retorted, "There cannot be one train that would be affected by such a crash."

In the same room, on the same rostrum, this time, Plassnik was replaced by Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, who began speaking by flattering Turkey being "positive and constructive"on the circulated but officially undisclosed Finnish proposals determined to overcome the Cyprus impasse. Rehn was also seated on the same rostrum and began speaking by joking, saying, "This is the first time a press conference concerning Turkey has been held at a decent hour,and is proof of the progress in the EU's relations with Turkey." The audience burst into laughter.

The Luxembourg contact, prior to the fateful "Turkey progress report" to be published on Nov. 8 that will serve as a guideline for the European Council's decision in December, whether to continue with Turkey, did not offer any tangible solution to the existing bilateral problems. Yet, the mood was of "partnership." For Gul and his associates, who disclosed their impressions to us in the airplane back home to Ankara, "for the first time ever, the prevailing mood is not one between adversaries, as has been the case before, but partners seeking how to make progress."

Mostly an exchange of ideas on the situation of the Palestine-Israel conflict, Iraq, Lebanon, the Iranian nuclear program and the state of affairs in the Southern Caucasus dominated the talks. This attests to the fact that Turkey is indispensable for the evolution of European common security in the most important region of the world geopolitically, a region where European security is directly affected.

This fact does not preclude troubles ahead. As long as Turkey doesn't overcome its democracy deficit, the Cyprus issue will come up as an insurmountable obstacle. The priority on amending or removing that notorious article of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) 301, which very recently was even the basis for the persecution of Nobel Laureate and Turkish pride Orhan Pamuk. The 301 matter has preponderance even over the ninth reform package, including the controversial Foundations Law.

Abdullah Gul signaled that his government has a strong political will to remove any obstacle blocking Turkey's democratization and the implementation of freedom of thought and expression. His strong commitment to fundamental liberties and his emphasis that "Turkey will never make the mistake France did" had a positive impact on those EU leaders in Luxembourg and for Turkey's EU prospects.

A high official of the Turkish Foreign Ministry who took part in the talks whispered in my ear that, "Ironically, France did us a favor by doing what it did last week. The rest of the Europeans tried to be nice to us in the wake of the French attitude."

France was not present in Luxembourg. Nonetheless, the "French connection" that was there salvaged Turkey's EU prospects for the time being.

Cengiz Candar
ccandar@superonline.com
18 October 2006




Turkey urges France to kill 'genocide' bill
The Turkish Parliament slammed a French bill criminalizing denial of the alleged genocide of Armenians and urged France not to enact it to prevent irreparable damages in bilateral relations.

In a joint declaration signed by all parties in Parliament, lawmakers said the bill was motivated by calculations of domestic political gain. They said the bill would also harm prospects for normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia.

Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül, addressing the special session before the declaration was read out, said France stood at a “historic crossroads” and would chose between “becoming the country of Voltaire and Montesquieu or following a colonialist tradition” when it decides whether to go ahead with the controversial bill.

Opposition deputy Şükrü Elekdağ called for sanctions on Armenia, which he said was working in cooperation with the Armenian diaspora for international recognition of the alleged genocide, and said some 70,000 illegal workers from Armenia should be deported.

October 18, 2006
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News




Turkey urges France not to enact the controversial bill on the alleged Armenian genocide
Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül urged France to stop the entering into force of a controversial bill criminalizing denial of the alleged Armenian genocide, saying otherwise it would go down in history as the country that has changed the European Union's norms on freedom of expression.

“France is on a historic crossroads. It will either become the France of Voltaire and Montesquieu or follow a colonialist tradition,” Gül told a special session of Parliament debating troubled relations with France after the French National Assembly passed last week the bill.

Deputies adopted a joint declaration condemning the French bill at the end of debates, expressing “strong condemnation” of the bill.

The joint declaration said France, which has caused the death of one million people in recent history in its past colonies, including Algeria, should be careful while making judgments about history of other countries.

It urged France not to put into force the controversial bill, saying it would cause “irreparable wounds” in Turkish-French relations and damage prospects for normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia.

The French bill, foreseeing up to one year in prison and a 45,000-euro fine for those who dispute legally unverified allegations that Armenians were victims of genocide at the hands of the late Ottoman Empire in the beginning of the last century, drew ire from Turkey but it is seen unlikely to become a law.

To enter into force, it needs to get approval on the Senate floor and be signed by President Jacques Chirac.

Gül said passage of the bill had already “deeply wounded” Turkish-French relations in political, security and economic fields and destroyed “France's privileged position” in Turkish society. If it enters into force, the damage in relations will be more severe as compared to 2001, when French parliament recognized the alleged genocide.

“We hope this bill will not be enacted. If it is enacted, it will be a big shame for France,” he said, warning France against “becoming a country where people end up in jail for expressing views.”

He pledged to use all the means available under international law to counter enactment of the bill, including resorting to the court option. Several observers have suggested that the bill, if it becomes law, could be taken to the European Court of Human Rights for an assessment of compliance with European standards on freedom of expression.

The passage of the controversial bill, criticized by the European Union as well, came as Turkey is under pressure from the 25-nation bloc to improve its standards on freedom of expression as part of its membership drive.

Gül said it was a “blow to EU values” that a member country adopts a bill violating freedom of expression at a time when the bloc presses candidate Turkey to improve it. He said the enactment of the bill would mean France, a founding country of the EU, changing the bloc's Copenhagen criteria on human rights and democracy for newcomers.

“France would be the losing party. It would be the one whose prestige will be shattered and would go down in history as the country that has changed the Copenhagen criteria,” he said.

Turkey denies Armenian allegations of genocide and calls for a scientific study of history to discover the truths.

Gül called the genocide charges “mere propaganda,” underlining that there was no competent court decision designating the World War I events as genocide, a prerequisite under international law for verification of any genocide.

He also criticized the French incitement of Armenians during the World War I years to revolt against the Ottoman Empire with a pledge of an Armenian state in the Ottoman land and said it should apologize for what it did in the past.

The bill is widely seen in Turkey as a punch below the belt by opponents of Turkey's EU membership that will fan anti-Western sentiment among Turks and make it harder for the government to push ahead with painful EU-demanded reforms.

“France has made a definite decision to block Turkey's full membership in the European Union,” said Şükrü Elekdağ, a senior lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP).

Calls for sanctions:

Elekdağ also called for reprisals against neighboring Armenia, saying it is working in cooperation with the Armenian diaspora across the world in an international campaign to have the charges of allegations recognized.

“If they hurt us, then we should hurt them too,” Elekdağ, said, saying that Turkey should impose sanctions on Armenia, including cancellation of flights between the two countries. He also said about 70,000 illegal Armenian workers in Turkey, who have so far been tolerated, should be sent back.

Critics of the French bill say it will deal a blow to tentative efforts for reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia.

October 18, 2006
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News




From the columns

Talking about Europe's future in Turkey:
Radikal, İsmet Berkan: A very important meeting took place in the district of Göcek over the weekend. A young think thank called the Economy and Foreign Policy Research Center (EDAM) organized the meeting of academics, politicians and think-tank presidents from all over Europe. The meeting discussed the future of Europe for two full days. In reality, in a meeting taking place in Turkey it is very difficult not to mention Turkey's prospective EU membership. Whether we like it or not, the different scenarios for Europe with or without Turkey put forth entirely different projections for the future of the bloc. For instance, it is not easy to discuss European energy security issues without the presence of Turkey because the term “energy security,” when one gets down to it, refers to Europe's dependence on Russia for energy. Decreasing that dependence can be achieved only through Turkey. Another example is Europe's problem with “multiculturalism,” a euphemism for Islam in this context. Turkey is a candidate country with a Muslim population of 70 million. In addition, a significant portion of European Muslims are of Turkish origin. It is practically impossible to speak about this issue without mentioning Turkey. In this sense, EDAM has helped European intellectuals, journalists and politicians to recognize the importance of Turkey by looking through a European point of view.

Duplicity as a strategy to get the Nobel:
Yeni Şafak, Özlem Albayrak: Last week, Orhan Pamuk's Nobel was met with reservations, praise, happiness and blame. However, it was the Nobel that was in question. No matter how great of a fault Pamuk had committed, our enduring problem of “promoting” Turkey and thousands of many other troubles were healed and cured along with the bonus of having laid our hands on this prize for the first time. These reactions were only normal. Those who praised Pamuk chose to ignore the issue of his words “1 million Armenians, 30,000 Kurds,” for that would have meant downplaying the reputation of the Nobel, and dismissed claims that “Pamuk is not a good novelist, the Nobel is a political prize.” Meanwhile, those with negative feelings about Pamuk were mostly novelists arguing that the Nobel was an insignificant prize, admitting that it was still a happy development for Turkish literature. Although his books -- especially the first ones -- are undeniably a masterful display of the language and attract the reader into the story with alluring and eccentric fictional settings, this does not render his “Armenian initiative” staged to create an image of a “man of a stance” acceptable. Speaking irresponsibly about historical facts cannot be erased from the conscience of the public even if the Nobel was what he gained in the end.

October 18, 2006
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News




This attitude is not becoming of the president
The president ignoring Orhan Pamuk, failing to send even the minutest of congratulatory statements, is not becoming of his office. The president of the Republic of Turkey should not have taken such a stance.

Everyone has been waiting for days.

Everyone is wondering whether President Ahmet Necdet Sezer will send a congratulatory note to Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk. No one has given up hope yet. Some assumed that the president waited for a few days to send the message show his personal objection to Pamuk's statements. However, up until now, nothing has been released by the Çankaya Palace.

This attitude is not becoming of the office of the president. The award given is not from the international bird-lovers association. It is an award of tremendous importance, with many countries willing to sacrifice a lot to get one.

We are not sure whether the president is upset with what Pamuk said or just objects to the Nobel Prize on principle.

This stance may be Sezer's personal choice, but the office of the president represents more than just a portion of society. It represents all of us. It also is a post that needs to enshrine and protect the freedom of expression of all its citizens.

We do not understand and were taken aback by the attitude of our president.

As the nationalists were blasting Pamuk, increasing their support, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül openly congratulated him. It was also announced that Erdoğan had called and congratulated Pamuk on the phone.

The state acted in a way Turkey deserved.

It did not resort to cheap politics.

It did not choose to harm the country's interests just to win a few more votes.

Condition to going to European court against France:
The most recommended move these days against the French bill is to file a complaint against France at the European Court of Human Rights. Those who think they know something about the way things work at the court are talking, but those who don't know are talking as well. Some claim France has violated freedom of expression, giving Turkey grounds to file a complaint at the European court. However, facts show us otherwise.

States cannot file complaints against each other. In other words, those who are calling on Turkey to take such a step need to know that Ankara cannot file a complaint against Paris.

A bill cannot be legally contested before it becomes law. The bill that was passed by the French parliament needs to be approved both by the senate and the president. In other words, it cannot be contested as of yet.

We may be able to file a complaint against France based on this bill only if it becomes law and a person, it doesn't matter if the individual is Turkish or French, is convicted of violating it by saying, “There has been no Armenian genocide.” This individual may file a complaint against France.

I asked some people who are close to the court and received the same answer from every one of them. If there is an application and the court decides the law is a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights, it will force France to change the law and pay compensation.

It appears we will need some heroes from amongst ourselves some time in the future. I wonder how many of those who claim they will shout “There was no genocide” will be around tomorrow.

The real heroes will be seen by all then. And I will make a list of those who were all talk and no action.

October 18, 2006
Mehmet Ali Birand




French bill doesn’t justify Article 301, warns Kretschmer
The outgoing EU envoy expresses pleasure over the fact that the Turkish military is now aware that fight against terrorism cannot be conducted solely with weapons, without considering its cultural, political and economical dimensions

In his last speech delivered as the top official representative of the European Union in Turkey, outgoing Ambassador Hansjoerg Kretschmer has focused on the need for further reforms for maintaining freedom of expression, urging the government to amend the infamous Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK).

Freedom of expression is sine qua non criterion for the EU, Kretschmer, head of the European Commission Delegation to Turkey, said Tuesday in Istanbul at a meeting held by the Women's Entrepreneurial Association (KAGIDER).

In response to a question linking the issues of Article 301 and 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, Kretschmer warned that the two issues regarding freedom of expression are being confused.

“You're making a comparison between Article 301 and this bill. However, the two are extremely different from each other. What the French National Assembly did should not justify [Article] 301,” Kretschmer was quoted as saying by the Anatolia news agency. He also said he didn't believe that the bill in France would be approved by the Senate and the president.

He also expressed the expectation that Turkey would reconsider Article 301 before a key European Council summit in December.

Facing increasing EU 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 founding members, has blocked freedom of expression under the bill it legislated last week.

Many Turkish politicians referred to the EU pressure for amending Article 301 while criticizing the adoption of the French bill saying the bill was a pure violation of freedom of expression. “You try to give advice to Turkey with regard to Article 301 of the TCK while you, on the other hand, block freedom of expression. It is not possible to understand or explain this,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said following the adoption of the bill.

Another highlight in Krestchmer's remarks was on the notion of the independence of the judiciary as he said it was the joint responsibility of the military as well as of civil institutions to provide this freedom.

Emphasizing the importance of the economic, social and cultural development of the country's predominantly Kurdish southeast region, Kretschmer said, “I would like to state with pleasure that the Turkish military has now understood that -- as has happened in other places in the world -- the fight against terrorism cannot be conducted solely with weapons and that the problem cannot be resolved without considering the problem's cultural, political and economical dimensions.”

Freedom of expression and freedom of justice are the two key concepts for reaching the level of Western civilization, which was set as a target by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, the EU envoy also said.

October 18, 2006
ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News




Diplomacy Newsline
Mutafyan hopeful about pope's visit:

The spiritual leader of the Armenians in Turkey expressed hope on Tuesday that a planned visit by Pope Benedict XVI to Turkey next month will serve to build a bridge between the Muslim and Christian worlds.

The Vatican on Monday confirmed Pope Benedict XVI's trip next month to Turkey, a visit that has been overshadowed by remarks he made on Islam and violence. During his Nov. 26-Dec. 1 visit, the pope is expected to visit the Armenian Patriarchate in Istanbul as well as the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate.

In an interview with Italian news agency ANSA, Turkish Armenian Patriarch Mesrob Mutafyan described the pope as “an envoy of peace,” the Anatolia news agency reported.

“The pope will visit one of the most moderate countries in the world. I hope that this visit constitutes a bridge between the Muslim and Christian worlds. I hope this visit strengthens the understanding between faiths,” he was quoted as saying by Anatolia.

October 18, 2006
ANK - Turkish Daily News




Gül hails EU meeting as positive

'Turkey and the EU met for the first time just like two partners who attribute importance to one another,' Foreign Minister Gül says

Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül described a meeting with the European Union Troika in Luxembourg as a positive one, saying that it was one of the quietest yet after previous meetings had witnessed heated quarrels.

“Turkey and the EU met for the first time just like two partners who attribute importance to one another. If you put aside disagreements, they met for the first time as two partners who want to listen carefully to one another,” Gül told reporters on a plane en route to Ankara late on Monday.

The landmark meeting in Luxembourg, which came after Turkey wrapped up technical talks on 35 policy areas last week and before the release by the EU Commission of a key progress report, was dominated by detailed talks on Turkish-EU relations as well as the Middle East problem and Iran's disputed nuclear program.

Asked if it was possible to say that the infamous train crash had been averted at Monday's meeting, Gül said: “I never used the word ‘train crash' and I did not look [at the matter] that way. We should be realistic. There are still problems, but what's important is whether they are addressed honestly or with ill-intention. I saw today that they are being approached honestly.”

Brussels has warned of a train crash at the end of this year unless Turkey opens its ports and airports to traffic from EU-member Greek Cyprus. The Finnish term presidency of the bloc is trying to forge a mini-deal to avert a possible crisis in Turkish-EU ties over the Cyprus standoff.

The EU appealed to Turkey on Monday to seize the last chance to make progress on Cyprus and avert a possible freeze in Ankara's accession talks.

“This may really be the last window of opportunity for several years, and we should not miss this opportunity,” EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn told a joint news conference after the meeting. Gül said Ankara would support proposals by the EU's Finnish presidency.

Touching on the adoption by French lawmakers last week of a controversial bill making it a crime to deny that Armenians were subjected to genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Empire, Gül said the French vote, which may never become law, ran counter to the EU's Copenhagen criteria on democracy, freedom of speech and the rule of law.

Asked what impact it would have on EU efforts to get Turkey to amend its penal code to permit greater freedom of speech, Gül said, “We will not repeat somebody else's mistakes.”

Ankara is under EU pressure to amend or scrap Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), which Brussels says is restrictive of free speech.

On Monday Gül stopped short of saying Ankara would amend Article 301, under which scores of intellectuals have landed in court for denigrating Turkishness, saying the government was watching its implementation closely and would do what was necessary.

Rehn said he had noted gladly that the Turkish government was ready to examine options for addressing the problem. “It should be addressed as a matter of urgency,” he said. “We see that the best and surest way of erasing this serious problem is either repealing or amending Article 301.”

He also expressed pleasure over the win of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature by Turkey's internationally acclaimed author Orhan Pamuk. Gül said it was very important for the promotion of Turkey and the Turks.

Gül, speaking to reporters on the plane, also dismissed claims that the upcoming general elections would impact Turkey's EU process. “Everything we do on the way to the EU is in Turkey's interests. We're taking those steps because they are in the interests of Turkey, so why should we fear moving with steps that will be to the benefit of the Turkish public as we approach the elections?” he asked.

October 18, 2006
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News




Former minister returns French medal in protest

A veteran politician, former minister Kamran İnan, has decided to return a medal to France in protest of the adoption of a French bill penalizing denial of an alleged Armenian genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.

İnan's decision came one day after Professor Erdoğan Teziç, head of Turkey's Higher Education Board (YÖK), returned his medal from France for the same reason.

İnan returned a Legion d'Honneur medal that had been presented to him by former French President Francois Mitterrand with a letter to the French Embassy in Ankara attached to it, the Anatolia news agency reported on Tuesday. “Following the hostile decisions made against my country by the French parliament and the government, I cannot keep the medal,” İnan was quoted as saying by Anatolia in the letter.

Teziç also sent a letter to French President Jacques Chirac in which he argued that even though the French government had distanced itself from the controversial bill, Chirac himself had called on Turkey to acknowledge the killings as genocide during a recent visit to Armenia. “Even though the bill has not come into force yet, it has become clear the issue (recognition of the alleged genocide) has become a state policy of France. Therefore, I feel I can no longer hold the Legion d'Honneur,” he added.

October 18, 2006
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News




Turkish Press Yesterday
These are major headlines and summaries from Turkish newspapers on Oct. 17

Boycott against France getting out of hand:
Zaman yesterday warned that the economic boycott staged by Turkish citizens against France for adopting a bill making it a crime to deny that the 1915 killings of Armenians were tantamount to genocide might have negative consequences for Turkey. French companies with local partners employ at least 45,000 people in Turkey, the newspapers said, adding that boycotting companies that produce goods here in Turkey might have adverse consequences for the Turkish economy. The newspaper stressed that the protest would make sense only if it boycotted French products directly imported from that country.

Consumers would be better off not buying products with “Made in France” on them, which are mostly cosmetic and beauty products. Head of the International Investors Association Şaban Erdikler told Zaman, “If not, this boycott would amount to shooting ourselves in the leg.”

Congratulations to Teziç:
Bugün yesterday reported that Turkey's Higher Education Board (YOK) President Erdoğan Teziç, the only Turk to be awarded the Commandeur de la Legion d'Honneur title by the French, has returned the title along with an angry letter to President Chirac.

Teziç said he had no intention of bearing the title given to him by France, which acknowledges mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in the beginning of last century as genocide.

October 18, 2006
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News




French business chief hits out at 'genocide' bill

The head of the French Employers' Federation (MEDEF) hit out on Tuesday at the adoption of a French bill that would make it a crime to deny a Turkish "genocide" of Armenians, saying lawmakers had acted irresponsibly.

"We consider that what was voted goes beyond what was appropriate on such a serious subject. One cannot take this kind of measure without thinking of the consequences," MEDEF President Laurence Parisot told a press conference.

The French lower house adoption of the bill -- launched by deputies of the opposition Socialist Party but opposed by the center-right government -- has sparked fury in Turkey and threatens to jeopardize billions of dollars of French trade in the country.

"It is not up to business to write history, but neither is it up to lawmakers to write it," Parisot said.

"It is easy to see that an overly sharp reaction from Turkish authorities can be very damaging for the health of French companies," she said.

Calling the development "worrying," Parisot said she was due to meet with Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen's Association (TUSIAD) Chairman Omer Sabanci later on Tuesday in Brussels to discuss the situation.

The French bill, which still has to undergo a Senate vote and a second lower assembly reading before becoming law, would make it a jailable offence to deny that the massacres carried out under Ottoman rule constituted genocide.

Armenians claim up to 1.5 million of their people were slaughtered, but Turkey rejects the use of the term "genocide," saying some 300,000 Armenians died when the Ottoman Empire fell apart, but at least as many Turks did too.

October 18, 2006
PARIS - AFP




Mountaineers battling bureaucracy plus nature
Turkey’s Mountaineers Federation chairman says Turkish intelligence has been questioning foreign mountaineers since 1988

Turkey's Mountaineers Federation Chairman Alaattin Karaca said on Tuesday the permission foreign mountaineers need from the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) to climb Mt. Ararat was nothing new and had been in practice for the last 18 years.

Karaca said climbing Mt. Ararat is not something everyone is allowed to do, noting that it requires special approval from the interior, foreign and culture ministries, the Office of the Chief of General Staff and MİT. “They also need to request a guide from us. This is the procedure. The new protocol that has come into effect introduces nothing new. It just tries to cut the red tape. It has decreased the time to obtain the necessary approval.”

Armenian flag on Ararat without their knowledge:
When asked about reports about students from United States having erected an Armenian flag on the summit of Ararat, Karaca said: “According to the protocol, every team that wants to climb Mt. Ararat needs to request a guide from us. The students from the United States climbed the mountain illegally without permission. Moreover, politics is not allowed in any sports. People can't erect any flag they want anywhere they want.”

Karaca said Turkey was not alone in setting conditions for foreign mountaineers, noting that similar practices could be seen all around the world.

ANKARA – Turkish Daily News
October 18, 2006




Diplomacy Newsline

ATAA protests Las Vegas mayor over ‘genocide' monument plan:

The Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA) has protested Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman over a decision to dedicate land in downtown Las Vegas for the erection of an Armenian “genocide” memorial.

President of the ATAA Vural Cengiz sent a letter to Goodman saying there is no evidence proving that killings of Anatolian Armenians during World War I amounted to “genocide.”

“Please drop the idea of a monument, which is a product of bad advice and which will be dedicated to a counterfeit genocide,” Cengiz was quoted as saying in the letter, according to the Anatolia news agency.

The influential Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) has already expressed pleasure over Goodman's decision. The Armenian community of Las Vegas contributed $150,000 for the monument.

October 18, 2006
ANK - Turkish Daily News




Pamuk's Task
First of all, I want to put it on the record that I have followed Orhan Pamuk with great pleasure and appreciation since the publication of his “Black Book,” and that, asking for the forgiveness of literary critics, I think he is the greatest author in Turkish literature’s recent history.

I wholeheartedly congratulate him on winning the Nobel prize for Literature.

However, the Nobel Prize for Literature having fallen on the same day as France’s questionable draft law warns us that we have to be sparing while showing our excitement and joy.

This Nobel award, for which we will always praise our great writer, couldn’t have come at a worse time.

What should be done now? Can our Nobel author take a role in the struggle against the injustice made against his own nation this time?

Let whoever wants to boycott do so; but 200l clearly showed that stupid plans like bringing France to its knees through trade never work. France has the world’s seventh largest economy, its per capita income is almost 30 thousand dollars and its economic volume exceeds 2 trillion dollars annually.

Mistakes like trusting that Chirac will call Erdogan and say, “I’m sorry,” expecting him to obstruct the bill, giving compromise after compromise hoping he will, and buying plenty of Airbuses, shouldn’t be repeated.

Both of Chirac’s probable successors, right-wing Nicolas Sarkozy and leftist Segolene Royal have already made recognition of a “genocide” a condition of Turkey’s EU membership just like the current “friend of the Turks” president.

OK, let’s say that Chirac doesn’t sign this bill, won’t it be brought back to life a few years later?

What should be done is to immediately make the bill a law. As soon as it becomes a law, a serious struggle should be begun on the basis of freedom of expression. Last week in Europe there were many decisions indicating that Turkey would win such a struggle started on the basis of freedom of expression. We can list them as follows:

The EU Commission took a stand against the bill; not only Expansion Commissioner Olli Rehn, but also at the highest level, Chairman Barroso.

France’s largest newspapers agreed that the French National Assembly had acted unreasonably. In general, the European press supported this stand.

There were official public statements from the European Parliament, which is constantly giving Turkey a headache regarding the issue of “genocide,” saying, “You’ve made Voltaire turn over in his grave,” and, “If a law is being made for the Armenian genocide, why aren’t you doing anything about other injustices?”

Even one of the genocide-accusing members of the EP, French Marie Anne Isler Beguin, joined in on the protests, “Do you want to throw Turkey into the lap of Iran and Russia?”

Without losing any time, France’s most expert historians called upon Chirac to have the bill rescinded if it passes the Senate.

It can be said that an intellectual alliance is emerging throughout Europe - even though it’s not strong - believing that France has gone too far this time and exceeded its limits.

If the bill is not buried in France, it is just a matter of time before it jumps to Belgium, Holland and other countries.

The best thing to do would be to pull the discussion toward a freedom of expression platform and get the intellectual consensus emerging in Europe behind us.

Then Orhan Pamuk’s going to Paris with Hrant Dink would be effective. Pamuk’s going to Paris as a Nobel-winning author from a country that has abolished or amended article 301 could turn into a visit that would make France ashamed.

Actually, this is just the right time to amend Article 301!

In an interview with the BBC just after winning the award, Pamuk did not mention freedom of expression in relation to questions about France. This does not promise hope.

However, on the day he is to receive the award, if after criticizing the genocide bill from top to bottom in the speech he makes in Sweden, if the bill becomes law and he jumps on the first flight to Paris and, as Hrant Dink promised to do, he proclaims that he doesn’t recognize the “genocide” (even if he believes it happened), then the coldness between him and the Turkish people would to a large extent disappear.

Brussels
10.18.2006
SELCUK GULTASLI
e-mail:s.gultasli@zaman.com.tr




Turkish Parliament Criticizes France
The Turkish parliament issued an indirect condemnation of the French parliament’s acceptance of a bill criminalizing the denial of the so-called Armenian genocide Tuesday. The common declaration of the parliament emphasized that acceptance of the bill would cause irreversible damages to political, economic and military relations between Turkey and France.

The declaration called France to retreat from its “historical mistake,” stating that the bill harmed Turkey’s struggle to normalize its relations with Armenia. The declaration also said that France caused more than one million deaths in its own past, primarily in Algeria, and read, “The burden of policies harming Turkey and Turkish people will be very large.”

Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said Turkey might apply to international courts in opposition to the bill that French parliament accepted.

Gul informed the deputies during a special parliamentary session that as the government they did their best to prevent the bill from being accepted, adding: “We have another alternative and our government will not abstain from applying this method. We will use all of the means that international law allows, including applying to an international court.”

Gul emphasized that Turkey was never intolerant to other nations throughout its long history and added France was trying to provoke Armenia and the Armenian people just as it did during World War I.

Gul said Turkish culture was based on tolerance, and added: “If our ancestors had applied assimilation toward the other nations in the past, behaving in the same way that some countries, which are giving us ‘civilization’ lessons at the moment, behaved previously, many religions, languages and religion sects would not have survived to the present day.”

Gul said if the bill became operant in France, despite all their warnings, it would be a great shame for France and irreversibly harm political, economic and military relations between the two countries.

After the special meeting, the parliament accepted the declaration prepared commonly by the members of all parties in the parliament.

The declaration read the genocide bill was accepted with the votes of only one out of five French MPs, and many deputies could not use their votes as they were against the acceptance of the bill and further emphasized the bill was accepted under strong influence of the Armenian minority in France.

The declaration also emphasized that although French politicians thought it was the job of historians to discuss past events when their own history was concerned, interestingly enough, they thought it was the right of politicians to decide in Turkey’s case.

The declaration emphasized that in the history of Turkey, no shameful events have occurred, and as such the Turkish people had nothing to hide from.

The Turkish parliament declaration also named many distinguished international historians, including French ones, who did not describe the events of 1915 as a “massacre,” contrary to the claims of Armenians.

By Zaman, Ankara
October 18, 2006
zaman.com




French Companies Concerned
Boycotts launched after the passage of the French bill criminalizing the denial of an Armenian genocide has unsettled French businessmen.

Laurence Parisot, the president of MEDEF (the French Business Confederation) - described as France’s TUSIAD (Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association) - said that the reactions to the bill had unsettled French companies investing in Turkey.

Parisot remarked that the French Assembly moved to vote without having a full understanding of the gravity of the issue and without trying to appreciate the possible consequences beforehand.

In a statement to the French news agency AFP, he said: “It is not for companies to write history, nor is it for lawmakers to write it. Everyone must appreciate their limits and must stay within their boundaries. Our evaluation of the bill voted in the French Parliament is that the French parliamentarians overstepped their boundaries on such a serious and important matter. We must not make such decisions without considering their consequences. There are many French companies either operating in or exporting to Turkey. It is not difficult to foresee that any rash and impulsive reaction given by the Turkish government and decision-makers in the economic sector would cause negative consequences for the French companies in question.”

Parisot met with Omer Sabanci, the chairman of the board of directors of TUSIAD at a meeting organized in Brussels by the Confederation of European Business (UNICE).

During the meeting, Parisot’s statement came up. Sabanci pointed out that the parliament’s decision completely baffled the business world in Turkey and the public.

Sabanci invited Laurence Parisot, president of MEDEF for a year, to Turkey so he can get to know Turkey better and develop the present economic ties with the Turkish business world.

“Turkey’s process for full membership to the European Union has got the full and persistent support of TUSIAD. The French private sector must also demonstrate its full support to our membership in a much clearer manner,” said Sabanci.

In order for the bill to become law, the endorsement of the senate and the president is needed. The bill envisages a one year term in prison and a fine of €45 thousand euros for those who deny the Armenian genocide.

No Use of Boycott In the Long Run
While reactions against France’s genocide bill are growing, calls for moderation on the boycott issue are also on the increase.

Chairman of the Istanbul Chamber of Industry (ISO) Tanil Kucuk said: “I’m of the opinion that it should not be incumbent on the ISO to bolster attempts to put an embargo on present investments in Turkey while making great efforts to attract more of them. If we wrongfully do so, this will place a question mark in the minds of those willing to invest in Turkey and considering the present need of Turkey for more foreign investments, we should adopt a different approach to the problem.”

Kucuk said that reactions such as boycotting French products would not bear any fruit in the long run but rather the Turkish private sector should consolidate ties between the two countries instead of freezing them.

Let’s not Dismiss Commonsense
Chairman of the Kayseri Chamber of Industry Mustafa Boydak accentuated the importance of keeping the boycott within tolerable limits and emphasized that “when our reactions are more judicial and rational, they will be more effective.”

We should never dismiss commonsense.
“We are altogether very sensitive about national issues. We should not respond to France’s mistake with a mistake. That is to say, our reactions shouldn’t be based on emotions, but rather on intelligence, we should make great efforts to observe the limits and be imperturbable all the time. Let’s not forget the proverb, ‘Haste will bring repentance’. I especially ask you not to get me wrong; I don’t mean that we should call it quits and leave everything altogether, however if we react rationally, our reactions will be more fruitful. Let us be patient and do whatever befits us as a nation.”

By Economy News Desk
October 18, 2006
zaman.com




OSCE Reacts to France's Armenian Bill

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has reacted to France, whose parliament adopted a bill on Thursday that makes it a crime to deny that an Armenian genocide occurred in Turkey during World War I.

In a warning to France, the OSCE explained that if the Armenian bill became law, Paris would set a dangerous example for other OSCE member countries.

In a written statement, the OSCE called on the French Senate to reject the draft if it came before them.

OSCE Media Freedom representative Miklos Haraszti sent a letter to the president of the French Senate, Christian Poncelet, and expressed his concerns.

Haraszti asked French senators to reject the Armenian bill on the grounds that adopting this law would cause serious concerns for international standards of freedom of expression.

By Selcuk Gultasli, Brussels
October 18, 2006
zaman.com




Armenian Bill no Excuse for Article 301

Hansjörg Kretschmer, head of European Commission Delegation to Turkey, said that a bill recently passed by the French parliament criminalizing the denial of the purported Armenian genocide should not be used as an excuse to keep Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, which restricts the freedom of expression.

Kretschmer made his last speech on Tuesday as the head of European Commission Delegation to Turkey.

Kretschmer said the Turkish government must make more progress in the areas of human rights and basic freedoms, religious freedoms, women’s rights, relations between civilians and military officials, and an independent justice system.

Kretschemer said the likelihood of Turkey becoming an EU member depended on Turkey itself rather than the European Union

He said that as with all other military officials, the Turkish military officials had also come to the realization that the battle with terrorism was not done only with guns, because there were cultural, political, as well as economic dimensions to the problems at hand.

October 18, 2006
zaman.com




TURKS SEETHING OVER FRENCH BILL ON GENOCIDE
Anger over the French Parliament's approval of a bill making it a crime to deny that Armenians were victims of genocide is so potent here that even national pride in the news that the novelist Orhan Pamuk had been awarded a Nobel Prize was tinged with resentment. "A great moment for Turkey has been made sour," Sinan Ulgen, a Turkish commentator, said over the weekend. "That it happened on the same day the French law was adopted is seen by some as a slap in the face."

Anger over the French Parliament's approval of a bill making it a crime to deny that Armenians were victims of genocide is so potent here that even national pride in the news that the novelist Orhan Pamuk had been awarded a Nobel Prize was tinged with resentment.

"A great moment for Turkey has been made sour," Sinan Ulgen, a Turkish commentator, said over the weekend. "That it happened on the same day the French law was adopted is seen by some as a slap in the face."

Pamuk went on trial in January on charges of "insulting Turkishness" after he said in comments published in a Swiss newspaper that one million Armenians had died in Turkey during World War I. The case was later dismissed on a technicality. While Pamuk's status as a cultural hero in Turkey has been cemented by the Nobel Prize, he remains a nemesis to many critics for drawing worldwide attention to a historical taboo that many Turks would like to forget.

About 100 demonstrators gathered outside the French Consulate in Istanbul on Sunday, several pelting it with eggs to protest the French bill, which was approved Thursday by the National Assembly and now goes to the Senate.

"The EU wants any excuse to keep out Muslim Turkey, and the Armenia issue is just the latest example," Oznur Tufan, a 30-year-old social worker, said as she passed the barricaded consulate. A policeman added, "Some Turks now want to make France an enemy."

Ankara has rejected calls for an all- out boycott of French goods, but Turkish officials say some lawmakers are considering retaliatory measures, including blocking French defense and energy companies from bidding for Turkish contracts. Ordinary Turks speak of making their own symbolic protests, like selling their Peugeots.

Such talk reflects the visceral indignation over what many Turks see as the hypocrisy of France, a country that they say claims to uphold free speech but is using the genocide bill to try to limit it.

Pamuk captured the national mood Friday when he said, "Freedom of expression is a French discovery, and this law is contrary to the culture of freedom of expression."

Turkey acknowledges that a large number of Armenians died during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, but it rejects the contention that the deaths constitute genocide. Armenians argue that as many as 1.5 million of their ancestors were victims of a systematic genocide between 1915 and 1923. The topic is so sensitive here that it is largely glossed over in official history books.

Beyond reopening a historical wound, analysts say, the consequences of the French law could go far deeper - undermining Turkey's political reforms, which are already on shaky ground, and intensifying a backlash against the European Union at a time when support for joining the bloc has reached an all- time low. The EU has been pressing Turkey to improve its human rights record, in particular insisting that Ankara remove an article from its penal code that has led to the prosecution of Turks for insulting Turkish identity.

French officials say President Jacques Chirac is fuming over the French bill, which he fears could divide his already squabbling conservative party while pushing Turkey away from democratic reforms. On Saturday, Chirac telephoned Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to say he understood why Turks were so upset.

But Chirac and the two leading contenders to replace him as president - Nicolas Sarkozy and Ségolène Royal - have also called for Turkey to acknowledge the Armenian genocide, or risk undermining its chances of joining the European Union.

Such demands have done little to mollify the growing anger here.

Many Turkish critics of the French bill warn that the measure could backfire by playing into the hands of nationalists who argue that reforms, including laws encouraging free speech and better rights for minorities, are a step too far.

The author Elif Shafak, who was recently put on trial because characters in her latest novel, "The Bastard of Istanbul," say that the Armenians were massacred, contends that the French law risks emboldening forces in Turkey "who staunchly oppose Turkey's EU bid and would like to keep the country as an insular, xenophobic nation cut off from the West."

The French legislation has already strengthened nationalist voices and weakened the governing Justice and Development Party of Erdogan, who has referred to the French bill as a "systematic lie machine" and is pressing for difficult economic and political reforms before an election year. After the bill's adoption, Onur Oymen, deputy leader of the opposition Republican People's Party, and Sukru Elekdag, a former ambassador to Washington, called for Turkey to retaliate by deporting 70,000 Armenian residents living in Turkey.

The Turkish Parliament's Justice Committee, meanwhile, has discussed a retaliatory law that would make it illegal to deny that France was responsible for a colonial-era genocide in Algeria, which France ruled from 1830 to 1962.

Others, however, including prominent members of the Justice and Development Party, have pleaded for restraint. Addressing a town hall meeting in Gocek, a seaside town on Turkey's southern coast, Egemen Bagis, a Justice and Development lawmaker and a senior adviser to Erdogan, told the crowd that it should not "match France's mistake" by caving in to intolerance.

Bagis added that the adoption of the bill reflected the limits of Turkish immigrants in France. Many here question why France's small but influential Armenian population was able to lobby for the bill while France's unassimilated Turks looked on. "This is a mistake for France, but it is also our mistake," Bagis told the crowd, "While Armenians can influence the debate, Turks have not assimilated as much as the Armenians, and they need to be active players in France by being more integrated."

But Ismet Yilmazer, an 80-year old nightclub owner, retorted that democracy was "upside down if a country like France, with more than 60 million people, adopts a law to get the vote of 450,000 French Armenians."

Turkish officials said the law had a particular sting in a country whose founder, Kemal Ataturk, had modeled the modern Turkish Republic on France, insisting, like France, on a separation between religion and the state.

"It is unacceptable that France, the country of 'Égalité, Fraternité, Liberté,' should tell us what we can and cannot say," said Zeynep Damla Gurel, a lawmaker from the opposition Republican People's Party. "It's not for another country to dictate to us our history."

18 October 2006
International Herald Tribune




TURKISH PARLIAMENT GIVES UP ALGERIAN GENOCIDE LAW
It is not clear just what kind of official retaliatory move Turkey will take after the French National Assembly adopted a bill on Thursday that would make it a crime to deny that Turks committed an Armenian genocide during World War I. The Turkish Parliament Justice Sub-committee launched studies about a law proposal that would make it a crime to deny that France committed genocide in Algeria.

Members of the committee listened to Turkish History Society President Professor Yusuf Halacoglu and officials from the foreign ministry in their first meeting yesterday.

Professor Halacoglu provided historical information to the committee about Armenian violence in Turkey.

Halacoglu claimed that Armenians were freer than Turks during Ottoman times, recalling that Armenian citizens did not have to perform compulsory military service until 1876.

The commission will reportedly not accept the proposal that would make it a crime to deny that France committed genocide in Algeria.

Instead of enacting the law, the Turkish Parliament will prepare a text in which Turkey’s practices in the field of human rights and freedoms will be explained.

The commission members decided that the Turkish History Society and the Foreign Ministry should conduct a detailed study on the Armenian genocide allegations.

The history of countries that officially recognize an Armenian genocide will also be examined in this context to see whether such cases occurred in their own past.

The study will explain the circumstances under which Turkey decided to deport Armenians in 1915.

The commission members will discuss reports to come from the Turkish History Society and Foreign Ministry in their second meeting.

18 October 2006
Zaman




TURK ACADEMIC RETURNS FRENCH MEDAL OVER GENOCIDE LAW
The man in charge of Turkish higher education on Monday returned to France a prestigious medal in protest over a French bill making it a crime to deny Armenian genocide by Ottoman Turks during World War One. The gesture by Erdogan Tezic, chairman of the strictly secular body that oversees Turkish universities, marks the latest Turkish protest at the French lower house of parliament's vote in favour of the bill on Thursday.
Turkey denies any genocide, saying the Armenians were victims of a partisan war that also claimed many Muslim Turkish lives. Turkey accuses Armenians of also carrying out massacres while siding with invading Russian troops.

"Although the draft has not become law, with my letter, I return one of France's highest state decorations, 'Commandeur de la Legion d'Honneur'... as I won't be able to wear it as this issue (Armenian genocide) has become French state policy," Tezic said in a letter to President Jacques Chirac.

Tezic was awarded the Legion d'Honneur medal in 2004 by Chirac, becoming the first and only Turk to hold it, the powerful Higher Education Board said. As former head of the prestigious French-language university in Istanbul, Tezic received the award for services to French culture.

The bill still needs approval from the upper house -- the Senate -- and the French president, who has indicated he does not support the proposal. France is home to Europe's largest Armenian diaspora.

18 October 2006
Reuters




FRENCH GENOCIDE LAW A 'BAD MISTAKE' SAYS FINNISH FM
The French law criminalising the denial of the Armenian genocide during the first world war is a "bad mistake" says the Finnish foreign minister, explaining that historical truths should not be up to politicians to decide. "Legislators should never interfere with this kind of open and introspective soul-searching and the debates it fosters," Erkki Tuomioja writes on his internet blog, as Finland currently holds the rotating EU presidency.
"Unfortunately the French National Assembly has not respected this," he said.

The socialist-drafted law was passed by 106 votes to 19 in the lower house last week and found favour on both sides of the political divide although president Jacques 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 by the Ottoman Turks as genocide.

But the new bill proposes making Armenia genocide denial punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of €45,000.

"This legislation is a bad mistake and it should be quickly revoked," Mr Tuomioja wrote. "Parliaments and governments should not … ever attempt to legislate on what historical truths are allowed and which are declared illegal."

"For the record I do not consider genocide an exaggerated description for what happened, and I wish the Turks were more ready to recognise this by now," he added.

Orhan Pamuk
The minister explained that the EU has repeatedly called on Turkey to repeal the notorious article 301 of its criminal code, which has been used to bring charges against Nobel-prize winner Orhan Pamuk along with scores of less well-known Turks for expressing opinions deemed insulting to the Turkish state.

"Now the conservative forces in Turkey can dismiss these calls and question the right of the EU to demand this, as France has just adopted comparable legislation," the Finnish minister stressed.

Both Brussels and Ankara have condemned the law, saying the move is likely to hinder open dialogue on Armenia in would-be EU member state Turkey.

Mr Tuomioja is also against laws criminalising the denial of the Jewish Holocaust during the Second World War, which many EU countries put in place years ago.

"Such legislation is not defensible either. While Holocaust-denial is almost exclusively associated with anti-Semitism, other laws on the statute books criminalising racist incitement against and defaming of any and all ethnic groups are sufficient to deal with this," he pointed out in his online diary.

18 October 2006
EU Observer




AZERI AND TURKISH DIASPORA IN CZECH PROTEST DECISION OF FRENCH PARLIAMENT
Representatives of the Azerbaijani and Turkish Diaspora in the Czech Republic held a rally of protest before the embassy of France in Prague, against the French Parliament's bill establishing punishment for rejection of the "Armenian genocide". During 15 minutes, the protesters have stood before the Embassy with posters in their hands exposing falsification of historical events in Czech language.
Chairman of the Azer-Czech Society Elshan Nazarov has presented to the Embassy employees a book, "The Armenian Terror", in French, Armenian and Turkish, and a CD, demanded form the democratic France to refrain form its pro-Armenian position. Since February 2007, the Azer-Czech Society is going to hold numerous actions on the Khojali tragedy.

18 October 2006
Azer Tag




EXPLOITING DECISION OF FRENCH PARLIAMENT (CENGIZ AKTAR)

The decision taken by the French national parliament last Thursday was caused by something deeper than politicians seeking support from voters of Armenian origin, the lobbying success of the Armenian diaspora or the compassionate sentiments of the French public resulting from the Armenian drama. The decision is based on the chronic concern the French political elite, both on the right and on the left, feels towards Turkey proceeding along its European Union process and the impudent indifference they display towards the EU that they founded. With the decision, the Armenian issue has become a part of people's sentiments, sacrificing Turkish-Armenian dialogue in the process.

The French right has been aligned against our country's EU membership perspective since 2004. The bigger partner in the governing coalition, the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) and the smaller one, the Union for French Democracy (UDF), openly voiced their objection to Turkey's membership as the negotiations neared. Due to their pressure, France will hold a referendum when our country is ready for admission. During last year's referendum on the constitution, these parties' campaigns were centered on anti-Turkish sentiments. While President Jacques Chirac and the current French government don't openly back such sentiment, there are many ministers within the Cabinet, especially Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, who do. The opposition is for the most part covertly anti-Turkish. Both sides of French politics are dominated by an orientalist mindset of the last century that equates the East with underdevelopment, institutionalizing Islam's disharmony with modernity and perceiving Turkey as the enemy because it runs counter to these beliefs.

With this mindset, it is impossible for them to place Turkey as a partner in the EU project into the consciousness. Their bias is expected. The opposition and the government voting together for the bill as if it was a national cause is very meaningful. The French politicians' outlook towards Turkey and the EU, pressuring Turkey and preventing the EU's enlargement won't change too easily.

A new opportunity?

On the other hand, this imprudence is pushing the perception of Turkey from Europe to a different sphere. Until very recently, the general outlook of Europe towards our many problems was based on belittling and leaving us alone to solve them. However, the growing anti-Turkish sentiment and the bill have started to create concern among many European opinion leaders and decision-makers, including the French ones. Former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fisher, former British EU Minister Denis Macshane, current EU term president Finland's Parliament Speaker Lipponen, European Commission President Jose-Manuel Barosso, Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Andrew Duff, Joost Lagendijk from the European Parliament and many other less influential politicians have now started to remind people that Turkey is Europe's partner and should be perceived as such.

Even the French Foreign Ministry, which is constantly erecting obstacles in the way of our negotiations, was last week forced to say: ?Turkey is a candidate for the EU. The relations emphasize Turkey's European perspective, and we are in support of it.?

These may be the first signs of antipathy for Turkey transforming into empathy. The central issue is improving rights and freedoms and continuing with the transformation, refraining from getting third parties involved in contentious issues like the Armenian matter and as a result preventing these third parties from getting the opportunity to create obstacles.


18 October 2006
Turkish Daily News




ALL WARS OF INDEPENDENCE ARE TRAGIC (AYŞE ÖZGÜN)
I try not to miss the program ‘Dateline London’ on BBC World every Sunday evening. The last one was exceptionally educational for me and I'd like to tell you why. When the subject of restriction of speech in France on the alleged Ottoman genocide act came up, Mark Roche of Le Monde lit up like the headlights of an airplane landing on a pitch dark night.

?I agree with President [Jacques] Chirac and the French parliament because the Turkish people refuse to acknowledge that they committed a genocide on the Armenian people. The Germans have accepted and apologized for the Holocaust, so the Turkish people should too. This is completely a moral issue.?

Hearing this from a journalist working for the famous Le Monde, I sat up and took notice. This gentleman did not know what he was talking about. Obviously he was writing on this issue without any true knowledge on the subject. That was a scary notion. I tried to figure out why a journalist would do that.

M. Roche, don't you know that the Armenian subjects of the Ottoman Empire were first coaxed by the Russians -- and then by your good selves -- to rise up and fight against the Ottoman Empire with the promise of victory, allowing them to build their own country? A fair enough goal in my view. Wasn't that the reason you and the Russians led them to believe they could accomplish this? Wasn't that the reason that first the Russians and then you, the French, dressed them up in Russian and French uniforms, armed them with rifles and ammunition and led them on to fight for their independence from Ottoman rule? Your army generals at the time surely recorded just how bloody and cruel this fight must have been. The French-soldier-like Armenians burned down villages, massacred women and children, burned congregations in mosques. They were fighting their war of independence. How does the saying go? All is fair in love and war? Both sides suffered terribly and casualties were tremendous. They have their sad stories and we have the tragic tales of our ancestors.

In the end, however, the Ottomans won and Armenian independence was never realized. I can see how hurtful it must be when the people you have been rooting for lose. I can imagine how such a loss could plant extreme anger in the French towards the Ottomans and, later, the Turks. In fact, forgive me for saying it, sometimes I wonder if it goes beyond the boundaries of anger and turns into downright hate. But then I ask the French this: How come you did not support the Armenians with French troops? You were initiators but not follow-uppers. The test of time for friendship is not when the days are sunny and balmy but when they are bloody and tragic. Did the French fail the test and are now trying to make up for it?

Genocide, by definition, is a deliberate plan and a ?recorded? decree followed by decisive action to wipe a certain section or the whole population of an ethnic group from the face of the earth. All are present in the case of the German Holocaust. The Jews were not asked to walk away from Germany with their belongings but were boiled, burned and suffocated in death camps. The smell still lingers. Of course the Germans had to accept and apologize for what their forbears did during Hitler's time.

The total of Armenian subjects in Anatolia according to Ottoman records was 1.3 million people. At a census taken after 1918, Armenian subjects in Anatolia totaled 644,900. During the evacuation, rations were given to the people and U.S. food supplies were distributed under U.S. control by embassy officials. Talat Paºa took to court all those who attacked the evacuees and 67 received capital punishment. With regards to the famous Blue Book of accounts, the writer Toynbee later admitted to having been misled.

Genocide as practiced during the Holocaust and according to Nuremberg-recognized records was not about land, borders or independence, whereas the Armenian issue is and therefore it is a tremendous tragedy that cannot possibly be classified as ?genocide.?

The War of Independence took its toll on all sides. It led to tragedies of vast proportions. Hundreds of thousands of the subjects of the Ottoman Empire (600,000 to be exact) -- among them Kurds, Laz, Circassians and other ethnic groups -- were killed as a result of the Armenians' attempt at independence.

Bari Atwan Bey spoke realistically and told everyone that the EU did not want Turkey as a member and was therefore setting up these stipulations so that Turkey would get fed up and say it didn't want to enter anyway.

That is about when M. Roche turned into a little child and let the cat out of the bag by shouting: ?But don't you see Turkey will kill the EU? They will kill us. They will finish Europe.?

I had never heard such fear in a man's voice before. I would like to know who raised this man and what tales they told him.

I don't want to pass medical judgment on anyone, but we witnessed a severe case of disturbance in M. Roche right in front of our very eyes on ?Dateline London? the other night, and I feel we really need to help him. He should be invited to Istanbul with his family and meet with his peers and the Armenian community of Turkey. After he sees the true picture -- that there is nothing to be scared of about the Turkish people -- the richness and vastness of this fertile land, its hidden and obvious treasures as well as our smiling faces and hospitable attitude, he will be free of his fears. Then perhaps he will also have a chance to look into the Ottoman archives and see that genocide was not carried out against the Armenian subjects but that tragedies were experienced as a result of their trying to gain independence.

18 October 2006
Turkish Daily News




Turks protest planns for Las Vegas Armenian 'genocide' monument
Turkish associations in Las Vegas, Nevada yesterday protested the mayor's allocation of land for the construction of a monument commemorating victims of the Armenian "genocide."

The Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA), an organization that coordinates Turkish associations in Las Vegas, sent a letter of protest to Mayor Oscar Goodman, in which they stated that such a monument would distort historical truths and could only be described as a "lynching" monument.

ATAA head Vural Cengiz asserted that there is no evidence proving that Turks committed genocide against the Armenians. He urged Goodman to withdraw his approval, saying, "Please change your mind about the construction of a monument that is a realization of a bad proposal making reference to a fake genocide."

Las Vegas is a U.S. city with an influential Armenian lobby.

Cengiz also sent another letter of protest to French Ambassador to Washington Jean-David Levitte, criticizing the French Parliament's passage of a bill aimed at criminalizing the questioning of the Armenian genocide claims.


The New Anatolian / Las Vegas
18 October 2006




EU Term President Finland warns France
EU Term President Finland's Foreign Minister Toumijoa has stated that France has done a terrible mistake by approving the law that forbids denying the so called Armenian genocide and it should withdraw the law at once."

Erkki Toumijoa has written in his official website that 'countries should not make laws according to historical facts'. Toumijoa wrote: "There can be dark pages of the histories of countries or societies. There might be different responds in such issue, some remain silent, some apologizes and some deniesthe WW II, Germany's respond sets a good example however Russian and Japanese nations' responds were "bad examples". History can never be explained by legal laws. Law makers should not intervene in these political arguments. Unfortunately France Parliament did not behave this way on its last week's voting for the Armenian genocide denial bill. I think France should withdraw this law immediately. What happened during WW 1 in Turkey is totally autonomous. Just to put it in records, I must say that the term "genocide" means some people are over exaggerating what really happened back at that time."

Sabah Newspaper
18th Oct 2006




Will France make it illegal to deny Turkey's Armenian genocide?
History, some historians point out, is written by the victors. Are there times, though, when history is written by legislators?

Last Thursday, deputies in the lower house of France's National Assembly approved a bill that would make it a crime to deny that mass killings by the Ottoman Empire (modern Turkey's predecessor) of Armenians between 1915 and 1917 constituted what can be called genocide; Armenians claim the mass killings and deportations of ethnic Armenians during that period, which Turkey has long refuted, was genocide that led to more than 1.5 million deaths.(Le Monde)




Bulent Kilic/AFP

Protesters in Istanbul last weekend expressed their anger at the news of the proposed French law

If the French Senate approves the proposal, and it becomes a national law, then anyone in France who denies "the Armenian genocide" could be punished with a year in prison and up to 45,000 euros ($56,000) in fines. In 2001, France's National Assembly already officially recognized the Ottoman Turks' massacres of the Armenians nearly a century ago as genocide.

France's action has sparked furor across the political spectrum in Turkey. French President Jacques Chirac called Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to say he regretted it. (Still, just a little more than two weeks ago, in Armenia, Chirac publicly stated that it would be an "inspired" gesture for Turkey to finally recognize the Ottoman Turks' genocide against the Armenians - that is, if Turkey has any hope of ever joining the European Union.) (Le Monde)

Erdogan later said: "Chirac called me to say he was disappointed...." The Turkish leader called the proposed French law a "great shame and a black stain for freedom of expression." Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül warned that the bill that is moving through France's legislature could "deeply damage French-Turkish relations."


Hürriyet

Bulent Arinc, the speaker of Turkey's parliament

Turkey's Hürriyet reports that Bulent Arinc, the speaker of the Turkish parliament, "said that he does not think...Chirac's apologetic phone call to...Erdogan in the wake of the French parliament's acceptance of the 'genocide-denial' bill was 'genuine.'"

Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, whose country currently holds the E.U.'s rotating presidency, called the French deputies' action "stupid." Qualifying his remark, he stated: "My calling this French decision 'stupid,' and my hope that the bill is immediately withdrawn ha[ve] nothing to do with [what] actually happened to the Armenians in Turkey. Personally, I do think that 'genocide' is the correct term to describe what happened to Armenians in the past, and I wish that Turkey would be ready to accept this." (Hürriyet)




Fatih Saribas/Reuters

The protest in Istanbul brought out supporters of parties across the political spectrum, all furious about France's action

Commentator Ayse Özgün, in the Turkish Daily News, writes: "[T]he Armenian subjects of the Ottoman Empire were first coaxed by the Russians...to rise up and fight [their rulers]...allowing them to build their own country....In the end, however, the Ottomans won, and Armenian independence was never realized....I can imagine how such a loss could plant extreme anger in the French towards the Ottomans and, later, the Turks....But then I ask the French...: How come you did not support the Armenians with French troops?...The test of time for friendship is not when the days are sunny and balmy but when they are bloody and tragic."

An editorial in the Paris-based International Herald Tribune (the New York Times' sister publication) states: "We have argued many times that Turkey must come to grips with the crimes of its past and stop prosecuting writers who mention the Armenian genocide of the early 20th century. But we found it as absurd and as cynical when the French National Assembly voted overwhelmingly last week to make it illegal...to deny that there was an Armenian genocide." The IHT advises: "France's Senate still has a chance to throw out this outrageous bill, and we hope it does. We hope, too, that the Turks do not retaliate with something similarly nutty, like making it a crime to deny French colonial atrocities in Algeria....[T]he sooner Turks confront their past, the better. They are beginning to, in large part because of the lure of membership in the European Union. That does not excuse the way French politicians are trying to exploit anti-Turkish feelings while playing up to the large Armenian-French constituency."

By: Edward M. Gomez October 18 2006

Edward M. Gomez, a former U.S. diplomat and staff reporter at TIME, has lived and worked in the U.S. and overseas, and speaks several languages. He has written for The New York Times, the Japan Times and the International Herald Tribune.

©2006 San Francisco Chronicle



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