Turkish ministry spokesman warns French Armenian bill could damage relations

Anatolia news agency
3 May 06

Ankara, 3 May: Foreign Ministry Spokesman Namik Tan said that Turkey
expects the French authorities to adopt the same common sense approach
they use with respect to their own history when dealing with the
unfounded Armenian allegations.

Speaking at his weekly news conference, Tan stated in reply to one
question on the matter that the French authorities were being informed
at every level that the bill introduced to the French parliament
considering it a crime to deny the Armenian Genocide would cause
frayed nerves in Turkish-French relations.

Tan said: "In our talks we pointed out that in a country with a
powerful democratic past such as France restrictions to freedom of
expression and freedom of academic study are not in keeping with the
understanding of democracy, and that acceptance of this bill would
cause irreparable damage to the long-standing relations between Turkey
and France, and we asked them not to give this bill any quarter."

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Tan stated that in debates about France's
own history, comments made by senior French officials including the
Minister for Foreign Affairs that politicians and parliamentarians
should stay out of history, that history should be left to historians
and that phrases such as genocide should not be used rashly, matched
the thesis that Turkey had been defending for many years.

Tan commented: "There is no way we can accept dual standards and
contradictory approaches in this matter."

When asked at what level Turkey had made its sensitivities in this
matter known to France, Tan replied saying there was a host of
meetings between both countries on the agenda, but that he would not
go into detail.

Tan added that France had exhibited as much effort in this as Turkey
had, but that he would not go into detail because to do so might
jeopardize an effective outcome.