France’s controversial genocide law

France is attempting to pass a controversial bill which would make it a crime to deny that Turks committed genocide against Armenians  during the time of the Ottoman Empire. Under rule of the Young Turks from 1915 to 1917, some 1.5 million Armenians were expelled and massacred. The Turks, however, strongly reject the label of ...

606741_flags2_05.jpg
606741_flags2_05.jpg

France is attempting to pass a controversial bill which would make it a crime to deny that Turks committed genocide against Armenians  during the time of the Ottoman Empire. Under rule of the Young Turks from 1915 to 1917, some 1.5 million Armenians were expelled and massacred. The Turks, however, strongly reject the label of "genocide", claiming that both Armenian and Turkish lives were lost during conflicts of that time.

The French proposal has triggered explosive reactions from Turkey. And today, EU enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn claimed that the bill would be "counterproductive" and damage relations between the EU and Turkey, which is an aspiring EU member. Mr. Rehn stated that Turkey's entry into the EU should not be conditional on its recognition of the genocide, contrary to the opinion of French interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy, who, as it happens, opposes Turkey’s accession to the EU. Many French politicians, who are trying to appeal to France's large Armenian population for votes in the upcoming elections, favor the bill, due to be discussed on Thursday. But the proposal comes at a time just when the EU is due to consider Ankara’s progress on harmonization. Sure seems like a convenient time to rock the boat. Wouldn't some deft backroom diplomacy, rather than politicking, better foster dialogue?

France is attempting to pass a controversial bill which would make it a crime to deny that Turks committed genocide against Armenians  during the time of the Ottoman Empire. Under rule of the Young Turks from 1915 to 1917, some 1.5 million Armenians were expelled and massacred. The Turks, however, strongly reject the label of “genocide”, claiming that both Armenian and Turkish lives were lost during conflicts of that time.

The French proposal has triggered explosive reactions from Turkey. And today, EU enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn claimed that the bill would be “counterproductive” and damage relations between the EU and Turkey, which is an aspiring EU member. Mr. Rehn stated that Turkey’s entry into the EU should not be conditional on its recognition of the genocide, contrary to the opinion of French interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy, who, as it happens, opposes Turkey’s accession to the EU. Many French politicians, who are trying to appeal to France’s large Armenian population for votes in the upcoming elections, favor the bill, due to be discussed on Thursday. But the proposal comes at a time just when the EU is due to consider Ankara’s progress on harmonization. Sure seems like a convenient time to rock the boat. Wouldn’t some deft backroom diplomacy, rather than politicking, better foster dialogue?

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