OSCE calls on Greek Cypriots to reconsider law on Armenian killings
ANKARA – Anadolu AgencyThe Organization for Security and Co-operation (OSCE) in Europe has expressed concern over the Greek Cypriot administration’s latest move to criminalize the denial of Armenian allegations over the killings in 1915.
“While fully acknowledging the humanitarian intentions of this bill, I believe that this measure raises serious concerns about compliance with international freedom of expression standards,” the organization’s representative on freedom of the media, Dunja Mijatovic, said April 9.
The new law, approved on April 2, imposes a five-year prison sentence and a 10,000-euro fine on anyone who denies genocide allegations in the mass killing of Armenians in 1915 at the hands of the Ottomans during World War I or any other war crime recognized as such by the Parliament.
“The authorities should have taken into consideration the right to openly discuss questions of a sensitive and controversial nature as one of the fundamental aspects of freedom of expression which distinguishes a tolerant and pluralistic democratic society from a repressive regime,” Mijatovic said.
The Greek Cypriot administration’s move – which remains at odds with the Turkish side over the future of the divided island – came in the very month when Armenia is planning to hold a mass commemoration ceremony in Yerevan to mark the 100th anniversary of the 1915 incidents on April 24.
In January, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent invitation letters to more than 100 leaders, including Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, to participate in a commemoration of the Battle of Gallipoli on April 24.
Sargsyan reportedly denounced Erdogan’s invitation as an attempt to overshadow the 100th anniversary of the 1915 incidents, according to armenianow.com.
The move also comes at a time when the Turkish and Greek sides of the divided island of Cyprus have taken mutual steps to return to the bargaining table.