Swiss stance different from France over Armenian bid

Swiss stance different from France over Armenian bid

ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News
Swiss stance different from France over Armenian bid

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu welcomes Micheline Calmy-Rey, President of the Swiss Confederation and the country’s foreign minister. AFP photo

Turkey’s warm welcome to Switzerland’s president following the French Parliament’s adoption of a bill outlawing the denial of Armenian genocide allegations has put Ankara in an awkward position as critics recalled that Switzerland too has a similar law.

“Contrary to France, there is no rule in Switzerland that would recognize the specific situation as genocide,” Micheline Calmy-Rey, Swiss Foreign Minster and president of the Swiss Confederation said in an address to Turkish ambassadors who met for an annual meeting in Ankara. Calmy-Rey referred to article 261 of the Swiss Criminal Code Law which penalizes the denial of crimes against humanity and genocide without specifically mentioning the Armenian killings. 

“It should be up to historians to research and contribute their findings to an open debate in Turkey and Armenia,” she added. 

Osman Korutürk, a lawmaker from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), submitted a parliamentary question asking the reason for the invitation extended to the Swiss politician as her country also punishes genocide-denial.

Calmy-Rey met yesterday with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and addressed the fourth edition of the Turkish Ambassadors’ Conference. Calmy-Rey was scheduled meet with President Abdullah Gül later in the evening.

In 2007, a Swiss court has convicted Turkish politician Doğu Perinçek in absentia and fined him for remarks denying that the incidents of 1915 amounted to a genocide. The case caused diplomatic tensions between Switzerland and Turkey.

However, Calmy-Rey also mediated in bridge-building talks between Turkey and Armenia that resulted in the signing of protocols on normalizing ties in 2009.

“Ms. Calmy-Rey gave enormous support during the negotiations. She also criticized the law passed in her country,” Davutoğlu said. 

Turkish diplomatic sources said Ankara differentiated between France and Switzerland becuase the Swiss government did not support the denial bill in France and that Calmy-Rey was one of the politicians who resisted the legislation in favor of good relations with Turkey. 

The Swiss government has distanced itself from the Perinçek’s conviction and lent support to Turkey’s proposal for the establishment of a commission of historians to study the 1915 incidents, a Turkish official said.