Tehran Times, Iran
Dec 30 2011

Sarkozy gets a black eye over new bill

Saeed Khalouzadeh
On Line: 30 December 2011 18:04

The French parliament passed a law in 2001 recognizing the killing of
more than one million Armenians by Turkish soldiers in 1915 as

The move angered the Turkish government at the time, leading to a
series of tit-for-tat actions by Ankara and Paris.

The French National Assembly approved a bill criminalizing denial of
the Armenian genocide in 2006, but that measure was rejected by the

However, French President Nicolas Sarkozy's recent trip to Yerevan
paved the way for the approval of a similar bill in the lower house of
the French parliament. According to the new bill, anyone who denies
the incident could be subject to a one-year prison sentence and a fine
of 45,000 euros.

The Senate must still approve the bill for it to become a law.
However, the low number of votes it received in the lower house shows
that it is very unlikely that the controversial bill will be ratified
by the Senate.

Moreover, after Turkey's harsh response to the move, the French
government was censured in several quarters. Turkish Prime Minister
Recep Tayyip Erdogan vehemently criticized the bill, cancelled all
economic, political, and military meetings with France, and recalled
the Turkish ambassador from Paris.

Turkey views the move as a campaign ploy by Sarkozy's ruling party
meant to attract the votes of the country's Armenian minority.

Armenians have an influential role in the political, economic, and
cultural spheres in France.

The ratification of the bill by the lower house of the French
parliament has had many repercussions for Sarkozy inside France.

The move, which was meant to gain votes for the ruling party in the
upcoming presidential election, has backfired. The country's Turkish
minority has protested against the measure, and other Muslim groups in
France have also expressed their dissatisfaction.

The French government's failure to respond to the economic needs of
its citizens and the decline in France's position in the international
arena have caused discontent in the country. Thus, the new bill could
cause Sarkozy to lose votes in the upcoming election.

The move could also intensify Turkey's anger with France over the
country's obstruction of the accession of Turkey to the European
Union. Influential governments in the EU, including France, have
opposed the accession, mainly due to the fact that the Turkish
government is currently in the hands of a party that follows Islamic
principles. The applications of countries like Spain, Bulgaria,
Hungary, and Cyprus were easily accepted. But over the past few years,
Turkey has made serious efforts to gain admission to the European
Union, but to no avail.

Bearing all this in mind, it is clear that the controversial bill will
have many ramifications for both Turkey and France.

However, due to Turkey's harsh response to the move, France will
experience more negative repercussions than Sarkozy had anticipated.

Saeed Khalouzadeh is a political analyst and an expert on Europe and
France based in Tehran.

From: Baghdasarian