Boyer, Armenians celebrate

Boyer, Armenians celebrate

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Boyer, Armenians celebrate

ABACA photo

As French deputy Valerie Boyer – who played a leading role in drafting the bill to criminalize Armenian genocide allegations – came together with politicians, businesspeople and civic leaders of Armenian origin yesterday evening, her advisor defended the controversial parliamentary initiative.

“[Attendants] hung up a poster of Ogün Samast, the murderer of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, in a hall rented by a Turkish association last year and chanted slogans. Attacks upon Armenian monuments have yet to taper off. The bill aims to prevent such incidents,” Garo Yalick, the Turkish-born advisor of Armenian origin to Boyer of the ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), told the Hürriyet Daily News in a phone interview.

An ordinary Turk in France will not be punished for denying the genocide, as the bill is valid only for newspapers, associations and official institutions, Yalick said, adding they had encouraged the bill due to the anti-Armenian attitude adopted by ultranationalist Turks in France. 

“France officially recognized the genocide in 2001. We have yet to understand why this bill has led to so much opposition now. This is not a bill that is passed against Turkey. It merely fills legal gaps,” he said. “Turkey is 10 years late in reacting to the bill.”

Yalick also denied there was any likelihood of the bill going to France’s Constitutional Court and said it would be impossible to bring together the required approval of some 60 senators for that purpose. 

“This bill is going to ensure [the Turks’] rights as well. We do not interfere with Turkey’s internal matters. Turkey ought not to interfere with our internal matters either,” Yalick said. 

The extreme right in France has been on the rise in recent years, putting Turks under peril just as much as Armenians, he added. 

“Was the Turkish Republic not established in 1923? Why does 1915 frighten Turkey so much? Does it not suffice to engage in denial for nearly 100 years?” 

Some 30,000 Turks from all over Europe gathered in Paris on Jan. 21 in response to the draft bill, he said. “A large portion of these people belong to the working [class]. If Turkey truly wants to do something for its own people, she must support their integration into Europe. Lobbying is difficult business,” he said.

Whenever the incidents of 1915 come under question, Turkey keeps bringing up before France the events that occurred in Algeria, he said. “Through this statement, Turkey explicitly confesses to its crime. She means to say we did it, and so did you. She it trying to cover up her crime,” he said.