ANKARA: Gul Urges France To Withdraw From Minsk Group If Genocide Bi


Today’s Zaman

Dec 23 2011

Turkish President Abdullah Gul has said France should withdraw from
the Minsk Group if a bill recently approved by the French Assembly that
aims to penalize denial of the alleged Armenian genocide becomes law.

France, along with the US and Russia, co-chairs the Organization for
Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE) Minsk Group, which has
been trying to settle the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute since 1990s but
has thus far failed to provide a viable solution to the issue.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, a day after the approval of the
highly controversial bill in the French assembly despite strong
Turkish opposition, Gul said France should withdraw from the Minsk
Group if the bill is approved by the Senate and becomes law because
the country will lose its impartial position in the settling of the
Nagorno-Karabakh dispute.

Ethnic Armenian separatists, backed by Armenia, fought a war to
overthrow Azerbaijani control over Nagorno-Karabakh in the early 1990s
at the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union. Separatists also
seized land surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh. Turkey closed its border
with Armenia in 1993 in support of Azerbaijan during its conflict
with Armenia. Turkey backs Azerbaijani claims to Nagorno-Karabakh,
which has a large number of ethnic Armenian residents.

Gul also criticized French President Nicolas Sarkozy for “being
prejudiced against Turkey.” Recalling that the French president has
not responded to Gul’s phone calls for days, Gul complained that
“heads of state talk to each other even during war time.” He said
Sarkozy’s stance reveals his prejudices against Turkey.

The lower house of the French parliament voted on Thursday in favor
of a controversial bill penalizing the denial of the alleged Armenian
genocide, ignoring massive Turkish protests against the measure.

The bill sets a punishment of up to a year in prison and a fine of
45,000 euros ($59,000) for those who deny or “outrageously minimize”
the alleged genocide of Armenians in eastern Anatolia during the
final years of the Ottoman Empire, putting such action on par with
denial of the Holocaust.

The measure now needs to be passed in the senate, the upper house of
parliament, before it will come into effect.

From: A. Papazian

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