1142) Two shameful events: The French bill and Yakis's proposal

The French Parliament approved the bill stipulating penalties for those who question the Armenian genocide.

French people, thought by the whole world to stand for "freedom" and "enlightenment," are now creating obstacles by force to freedom of expression as defined in the European Convention of Human Rights. Article 10 of the convention reads: "Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers."

Even though the bill has additional hurdles to pass before becoming law, this is bad enough for the French image in the area of freedom. That shadow of shame will always cover them.

Turkey must exploit this matter on every occasion. The French took the goal in this game.

But Turkey got the goal at the same time.

Yasar Yakis, formerly a foreign minister under the Justice and Development (AK) Party government, made a shameful suggestion in order to prevent the bill's passage. He proposed that if the French Parliament approves the bill, Turkey may expel 70,000 illegal Armenian immigrants back to Armenia. According to press reports, this proposal was supported by the retired ambassador of Turkey, Sukru Elekdag, who is a deputy in Parliament sitting on the opposition side.

That proposal was strongly criticized by the Turkish press.

I could put my signature on any kind of criticism of that awful idea.

I don't want to repeat the criticisms. I'd like to add just one point to them.

The proposal amounts to taking revenge for an event or retaliating for it in a way that mostly makes innocents pay the price.

I've been writing articles on the genocide claims for ages and naturally I've read a large variety of ideas about the matter. But I haven't read or heard a suggestion as shameful, awful or absurd as this. If an illiterate peasant had made it, I wouldn't have paid it any attention. A former foreign minister was proposing this action. This is the most irritating point of the whole matter.

And the proposal was backed by Elekdag, a retired ambassador and deputy of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP). That is a sheer example of "adding insult to injury."

The bill is a pure French matter. The French press harshly criticized the bill. Le Monde, Figaro and even Liberation were openly against the bill. But it was approved.

It's not clear whether the French Senate will ratify it. Probably it will be rejected.

Last Thursday all day I watched TV to see the reactions.

The best came from the Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul and Armenian journalist Hrant Dink.

Tomorrow the Turkish Parliament will debate the issue and whatever measures it may take. I'll keep my fingers crossed that they don't take any ill-considered steps.

Recep Guvelioglu

16 October 2006


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