Confusion over vow on genocide denial law
French president François Hollande will stand by a campaign pledge to make it illegal to deny that the killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915 was genocide, his office said, days after his foreign minister said the law had been abandoned.
Relations between Paris and Ankara had begun to thaw after a decision in February by France’s constitutional court to strike down the genocide denial law as contrary to free speech.
Turkey had cancelled all economic, political and military meetings with France in December after the French parliament voted in favour of the draft law.
At a joint news conference last week, French foreign minister Laurent Fabius said the law was unlikely to be resurrected and Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu hailed the opening of a warmer phase in relations.
But Mr Hollande’s office said yesterday the president would stand by his pledge, made to French Armenians while on the campaign trail. A source said: “The position is very clear, the commitment will be met.”
Turkish president Abdullah Gul said Ankara was not prepared to act on unconfirmed reports and said recent meetings in Paris had been positive.
“We will follow it and let’s see what the result will be,” he said.
Given the likelihood that the constitutional court would reject a new law, weekly newspaper JDD reported that Mr Hollande’s government was examining alternative legal means, including an official decree.
Armenia says about 1.5 million Christian Armenians were killed in what is now eastern Turkey during the First World War in a policy of genocide ordered by the Ottoman government. Successive Turkish governments and the vast majority of Turks feel the charge of genocide is an insult to their nation.
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Saturday 18 May 2013
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