Bağış defiant on genocide denial stance
ISTANBUL / ANKARA
No power can detain a Turkish Republic minister, says Bağış. AA photoTurkey’s EU affairs minister reiterated his denial of Armenian genocide allegations yesterday in a further challenge to Swiss authorities, who are investigating whether similar comments made last month broke the law.
Bağış said yesterday that Swiss prosecutors should not lose any time in determining whether he made the comments at the World Economic Forum in Davos and at a concert in Zurich.
“I said there on that day that what happened in 1915 was not genocide and I repeat that today. Nobody should doubt that I will give the same answer every time I am asked,” Bağış told a news conference. “I don’t recognize any power that can detain any minister of the Turkish Republic. I am very much at ease on this subject.”
Turkey summoned the Swiss ambassador Feb. 6 to complain about the decision by Swiss officials to investigate Bağış’s comments.
“If necessary I will go again to Davos and say the same thing,” he said.
Swiss anti-racism laws make genocide denial illegal.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu sought to play down the preliminary investigation against Bağış, saying it was a routine procedure launched upon complaints by Swiss Armenians.
“The inquiry was opened following an application by an Armenian association. In Turkey too, a preliminary enquiry is conducted when anyone goes to court,” the minister told reporters.
He said the attitudes of the Swiss and French governments on punishing the denial of the Armenian “genocide” were completely different.
“In France, there is a government supporting the law,” he said, adding that the Swiss government had opposed a court ruling that convicted Turkish politician Doğu Perinçek there for denying that genocide took place. “Switzerland has shown that it stands against that by lending support for the creation of a joint history commission with us,” Davutoğlu said.
The European Parliament’s Turkey rapporteur, Ria Oomen-Ruijten, also lent her support to Bağış yesterday after they met in Brussels. Oomen-Ruijten said everyone must have freedom of expression.
Bağış was expected to meet European Parliamentary President Martin Schulz, Socialist Group leader Hannes Swoboda and members of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in Brussels. Bağış is also expected to have a meeting with European Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan Füle and European Commissioner for Competition Joaquin Almunia.
Last month, the French Senate approved legislation criminalizing the denial of the 1915 events as genocide, prompting an angry response from Turkey.
Meanwhile, Israel Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Israel would not recognize any genocide by law other than the Holocaust, daily Hürriyet reported yesterday.
Compiled from AA and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff.