Today's Zaman
Dec 23 2011

Azerbaijani officials on Friday harshly criticized a bill that was
approved by the French National Assembly which proposes penalizing
those who refuse to recognize the 1915 killings of Armenians as
genocide, vowing solidarity with Turkey.

Legislators in France's lower house of parliament on Thursday voted
overwhelmingly in favor of a draft law outlawing denial of the 1915
events in Turkey as genocide, which the Senate will debate next year.

If passed, the bill will make it illegal to deny that the 1915 mass
killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks was tantamount to genocide. The
issue has caused outrage in Turkey, which argues killings took place
on all sides during a fierce partisan conflict.

Azerbaijan also joined Turkish reaction against the bill on Friday.

Azerbaijani Parliament Speaker Ogtay Asadov called the French National
Assembly's decision unreasonable, ill-conceived and a weak policy.

"This step is taken not against Turkey, but firstly against France.

The Armenians are poor people who cannot control themselves. They
are controlled by others. I would like to believe that the French
president will not approve the decision of the National Assembly,"
Azerbaijan's parliament's speaker was quoted as saying by an
Azerbaijani news portal.

Azerbaijani Minister of Foreign Affairs Elmar Mammadyarov also slammed
the bill recalling that it was passed with the support of only 10
percent of French lawmakers as only 55 out of 577 deputies voted in
favor of the bill, Mammadyarov said at a press conference on Friday.

"If French parliamentarians find it necessary to discuss the issues of
a century ago, they should also discuss the problem of the occupied
territories of Azerbaijan, and the tragedy in the Azerbaijani city
of Khojaly," he said.

The Azerbaijani government, parliament and people will always be
close to Turkey, he added.

The deputy chairman of the Azerbaijani ruling party, New Azerbaijan
Party (YAP), also criticized the bill during a parliamentary address
on Friday. Ali Ahmedov described the French decision as "undue and
unfair pressure on Turkey."

"I hope the citizens of Azerbaijan will also express their anger
in this regard," he said. Recalling that France is a co-chair of
the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe's (OSCE)
Minsk Group, which is mediating the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict, he said, "Seeing as Paris is this biased and prejudiced, each
Azerbaijani citizen, including me, must draw a relevant conclusion as
to the objectivity and impartiality of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chair."

"Each step against fraternal Turkey will be seen as directed against
Azerbaijanis and Azerbaijan," he added.

From: Baghdasarian