Ankara to pressure Paris to reject its ‘genocide’ bill

Ankara to pressure Paris to reject its ‘genocide’ bill

Hüseyin Hayatsever ANKARA
Ankara to pressure Paris to reject its ‘genocide’ bill

A delegation led by Volkan Bozkır, the head of Parliament’s foreign affairs commission, will pay a visit to Paris to lobby for disapproval of a ‘genocide’ bill. AA Photo

A Turkish parliamentarian delegation will pay a two-day visit to Paris from Dec. 19 to 20 to warn the French Parliament of serious damage to bilateral ties if it passes a bill that would criminalize denial of the Armenian “genocide.”

Led by Volkan Bozkır, the head of Parliament’s foreign affairs commission, the delegation will include Kasım Gülpınar of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), Osman Korutürk and Haluk Koç of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Yusuf Halaçoğlu of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The delegation will meet both with French lawmakers and non-governmental groups ahead of the vote in the lower house of French Parliament, expected on Dec. 22, Bozkır told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday.

He dismissed the bill as a political maneuver to lure support from the Armenian community in France’s forthcoming presidential elections. “Maybe we will fail to dissuade our French colleagues from approving the bill, but our main objective is to inform the French public about the damage that the bill would cause,” he said. Even if passed, the bill will not take effect automatically, Bozkır said, adding that a Senate approval was also needed. “The Senate will close on Feb. 22 before the elections. The bill will become invalid if further steps are not taken until that time,” he said.

The CHP’s Korutürk said the bill flouted freedom of speech and freedom of research. “Historians are also opposed to this law on grounds that it would pose obstacles to history research,” he said. It was uncertain whether the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) would join the delegation. “We have not received an invitation yet. We will decide after we get it,” said Nazmi Gür, the BDP member of the foreign affairs commission.

Other attempts to penalize the denial of the Armenian “genocide” have failed in France since the early 2000s after Paris officially recognized the killings of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1917 as genocide.

Businessmen should act: Bağış

EU Minister Egemen Bağış voiced hope yesterday that French entrepreneurs doing business in Turkey would take action to lobby French lawmakers against the bill. “I believe that they will put their weight [against the bill] because they know how sensitive the Turkish people are on this issue,” Bağış said in the northern city of Rize. “Bilateral ties with France are very important. Presidents, prime ministers and ministers have passed, but Turkish-French friendship has persisted,” he said.

Referring to some of Rize’s best-known local products, Bağış said tongue-in-cheek: “If there are people who have difficulties in understanding Turkey, I recommend that they eat Anzer honey and drink Rize tea. In this way, they may cheer up, relax and relieve themselves a bit from the stress of the approaching elections.”