Turkish envoy says his biggest success was overturning ‘genocide bill’
Arzu ÇAKIR MORIN PARIS / Hürriyet
Ambassador Tahsin Burcuoğlu (R) speaks candidly to Arzu Çakır Morin in Paris. Burcuoğlu said he will write a book during his retirement years. HÜRRİYET photoTurkey’s outgoing ambassador to France, Tahsin Burcuoğlu, has said his greatest success in his career was the decision of the French Constitutional Court to overturn a bill criminalizing the denial of genocide.
In his “farewell interview” to daily Hürriyet in Paris, Burcuoğlu, a 41-year-old diplomat, spoke candidly about the bill that triggered a diplomatic crisis between Turkey and France in early 2012.
“On Feb. 28, 2012, the French Constitutional Court ruled that the bill was anti-constitutional, citing its contradiction to the freedom of speech. We celebrated the decision at the embassy that night. It was a mission that I loved so much that I can’t be humble about it now,” Burcuoğlu said, describing the end of the affair as “the greatest success” of his diplomatic career. The veteran diplomat hinted the bill could again be submitted before 2015, the 100th anniversary of the World War I mass killing of Ottoman Armenians that many around the world now recognize as a genocide.
“Both Turkey and France showed a political will to open a new page and cooperate. But if the bill is submitted again, it will spoil ties,” Burcuoğlu said.
The first article of the bill passed in the French Parliament and Senate in 2012 called for two years of imprisonment or a fine of 45,000 euros for denying genocides, including the massacre of Armenians in 1915.
However, the French Constitutional Court ruled the bill was unconstitutional, citing its contradiction of the freedom of speech.
Burcuoğlu will retire on Feb. 28 from his career and said he will write a book during his retirement years, without ruling out a possible foray into politics.