ANALYSTS SAY TURKEY ON WRONG TRACK OVER ARMENIA GENOCIDE

Agence France Presse
January 27, 2012 Friday 11:50 AM GMT

Turkey's attempts to intimidate France and other countries over the
question of the Armenian genocide are bound to backfire, analysts
said as the 100th anniversary of the bloodshed approaches.

"This negative and reactive strategy has failed, and no one is ready
to admit it," said Cengiz Aktar of Istanbul's Bahcesehir University.

"I hope that the authorities will think about it and come up with a
different tack by the time of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian
genocide that is coming up" in 2015, said Aktar, an international
relations professor, using the term Ankara condemns.

Hugh Pope of the International Crisis Group agreed, saying: "There
are many people in Turkey that are worried about how Turkey is going
to handle the situation in 2015."

He said Ankara should "get on a path of reconciliation with the
Armenians so that they can be on the side of the people who are
going to be remembering the lost communities of Armenians" in the
anniversary year.

The French Senate on Monday approved legislation under which anyone
in France who denies that the 1915 massacre of Armenians by Ottoman
Turk forces amounted to genocide could face imprisonment.

On Tuesday, Paris brushed off angry threats of retaliation by Turkey
and said the bill would become law in two weeks.

Ankara has already halted political amd military cooperation and is
threatening to cut off economic and cultural ties. Bilateral trade
totalled some 11.7 billion euros ($15.4 billion) in 2010.

The French chamber of commerce in Turkey, which has some 400 members,
on Thursday expressed "great disappointment" over the bill, and called
on France's constitutional council to nix it.

"Turkey is making more and more threats against France," wrote
editorialist Semih Idiz in the Milliyet daily. "But in a few weeks the
issue will rear its head again in the US Congress. There are other
countries waiting in the wings. Will Turkey recall its ambassador
each time?" he asked. "It's an absurd situation."

Armenia and its diaspora in countries around the world have long
campaigned for international recognition of the killings as genocide,
despite strong denials from Turkey.

Armenians says that planned massacres and deportations left more than
1.5 million people dead, but Turkey puts the number at up to 500,000,
describing the bloodshed as civil strife stemming from the conflict
with Russia in World War I.

Around 20 countries have officially recognised the killings as
genocide.

The dispute is in addition to the conflict between Armenia and
Azerbaijan, an ally of Turkey, over the Nagorny-Karabakh enclave.

Ankara and Yerevan signed a historic protocol in 2009 to normalise
relations, but it was never ratified as Turkey demanded a resolution
to the Nagorny-Karabakh dispute .

Armenian separatists backed by Yerevan seized Nagorny-Karabakh from
Azerbaijan in a war in the 1990s that left some 30,000 people dead,
and the two sides have not signed a final peace deal since a 1994
ceasefire.

Turkey can no longer escape its duty of contrition for the genocide,
said Soli Ozel of Istanbul's Kadir Has University

"First and foremost it must express chagrin, and the Turkish state
has never done that," the international relations professor wrote in
the daily HaberTurk.