Ankara ‘was on brink of severing Paris ties,’ Turkish envoy says
PARIS – Anadolu Agency
If the French Constitutional Court hadn’t overturned the ‘genocide bill,’ Turkey would have reduced its ties with Paris to the chargé d’affaires level. AA photoAnkara was on the brink of downgrading ties with Paris if a bill criminalizing denial of genocide was approved by the French Constitutional Court, Turkish Ambassador to France Tahsin Burcuoğlu revealed Feb. 8.
“As I leave France I will never forget the struggle that we put up together. I thank everyone who took part in this struggle. Our ties with France were almost cut in the beginnings of 2012,” Burcuoğlu said in a farewell speech in Paris, in reference to the bill which launched a diplomatic push in Ankara.
“I even keep a diplomatic note in the drawer of my table as a souvenir. If the French Constitutional Court hadn’t overturned the bill we would have given that note which said that our ties would have been decreased to the chargé d’affaires level,” Tahsinoğlu said, revealing for the first time the response that Ankara had decided on.
The first article of the bill passed in the French Parliament and Senate in 2012 provided for two years of imprisonment or a fine of 45,000 euros for denial of genocides, including the large-scale massacre of Armenians in 1915. However, the French Constitutional Court ruled that the bill was anti-constitutional, citing its contradiction to the freedom of speech.
“In the end, we naturally did not give the diplomatic note. But I will bring it with me as a souvenir. I may even frame it and hang it [on the wall],” Burcuoğlu said, adding that the top court’s ruling had been a significant diplomatic success.
“Thanks to you and thanks to our state’s erect posture, we have got through it without a stain. We [worked a miracle],” he said.
Burcuoğlu also conveyed the appraisal message from the French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.
“Fabius said ‘you should be proud of what you have achieved.’ I replied that, as a Turk, we never give away our modesty,” he said.
Burcuoğlu had served as Turkey’s second civilian head of the National Security Council before being appointed to Paris.