ANKARA: French Parliament’s vote creates shock waves

Hurriyet, Turkey
Oct 13 2006

French Parliament’s vote creates shock waves
Friday , 13 October 2006

In France, a cradle of democracy which helped make freedom a
universal value, the French National Parliament yesterday voted to
approve a bill mandating jail time and monetary fines for people
publicly denying the so-called Armenian genocide.

Despite yesterday’s overwhelming vote of approval however, the bill
must pass through the French Senate and then be signed by the French
president before being put into implementation. Also casting an
ambigious shadow overt the parliament’s vote yesterday was the fact
that the French government repeated both before and after the vote
that it did not support the bill in question.

Paris administration underscores its opposition to the bill

The French Foreign Ministry issued a statement following the vote
saying that it "wanted very much" to continue dialogue between Paris
and Ankara. Foreign Ministry spokeperson Jean Baptiste Mattei said
"Just as we wish to carry on our strong friendship and our
cooperative ties, we want to continue our dialogue with Turkey."
Spokesperson Mattei also referred to the "genocide denial" bill
approved yesterday as both "unnecessary" and "untimely" in his
statements.

Another voice of opposition against the "genocide denial" bill came
yesterday from European Affairs Minister Catherine Colonna, who stood
to address the national assembly prior to its morning vote on the
bill. Said Colonna, "We as the government are opposed to this bill.
As it is, the parliament already voted to officially recognize the
Armenian genocide in 2001. President Jacques Chirac mentioned the
genocide clearly on his visit to the Armenian capital Yerevan. And
looking at things politically, Turkey has already begun work on this
subject, looking back at history, as have other countries. We must
encourage this work. This is why we, as the government, oppose this
bill."

Out of the entire French Parliament, which has 571 seats, a total of
125 MPs participated in yesterday’s vote. Out of these 125 votes, 106
were in support of the bill, with 19 opposing.

Mesrob II: This will only butter the bread of radicals everywhere

Speaking in reaction to news that the French Parliament had passed
the "genocide denial" bill, Patriarch Mesrob II, the leader of the
Armenian Orthodox community in Turkey, issued this warning:

"The French, who have in the past put up serious blockades in front
of Turkey during its quest for EU membership, have now dealt a
serious blow to the already constrained dialogue between Turkey and
Armenia. The law will only butter the bread of both radical Turks and
radical Armenians."

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