Turkish rage at ‘yes’ from French Senate

Turkish rage at ‘yes’ from French Senate

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish rage at ‘yes’ from French Senate

Jean-Pierre Sueur, a representative of the French Commission on Law, speaks during the Senate session in Paris yesterday. AFP photo

Turkey expressed fury yesterday after the French Senate passed a bill criminalizing denials of the 1915 events as genocide in spite of threats from Ankara to punish Paris with “permanent” sanctions if the bill was passed.

“Turkey’s response to the adoption of the bill had long been decided. These measures will stay in place as long as the law stays in force,” Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told reporters yesterday.

French senators passed the bill following a marathon session, with 127 legislators voting in favor of the bill and 86 voting against the motion in the legislature’s upper house, which has 348 members.

France’s lower house voted to make such denials a crime last month, prompting Turkey to suspended military, economic and political ties. With the motion’s passage through the Senate, Turkey is now expected to unveil a new raft of measures that will affect educational and cultural ties with France.

The bill will become law once it is approved by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and enters the Official Gazette.

Making a speech on behalf of the government, French Minister of Relations with Parliament Patrick Ollier said the bill complied with French and EU laws. Ollier said two “genocides” were now recognized by France.

“The denial of the Jewish genocide is penalized; [now we are making that] this possible for the Armenian genocide as well,” said Ollier.

But Constitution Commission head Jean Pierre Sueur said the bill contradicted the French constitution. “I am not speaking here on behalf of a party, I am addressing you on behalf of the commission,” said Sueur, adding that the Constitutional Commission agreed that the bill was unconstitutional in a 23:9 vote.

Sueur recalled a former decision of the Senate which rejected a similar bill last year and said a study released by Parliament in 2008 urged parliaments not to write history.

Senator Isabelle Pasquet, who made her speech on behalf of the Senate’s Communist group, said the Constitutional Commission had only one week to write its report and added that this was done by the ruling party out of electioneering concerns, the NTV news channel reported on its website yesterday.

Roger Karoutchi, speaking on behalf of ruling the Union for a Popular Movement, which has 132 senators, supported the bill, as did the 140-member Socialist group’s Philippe Kaltenbach.

Smaller Senate groups, such as the European Democratic and Social Rally, the Environmentalists and the Republican Central Union Group all supported the bill.

Turks protest the bill

Before the Senate debate began, rival demonstrations – one pro-Turkish and one pro-Armenian – gathered outside the upper house of Parliament, waving flags and blowing whistles.

Around 15,000 Turks from France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg rallied peacefully on the streets of Paris on Jan. 21 to protest the law.