ANKARA—Turkish officials slammed the passage of a measure by the French National Assembly last week criminalizing the denial of the Armenian Genocide, among other crimes against humanity, reported Hurriyet Daily News.
The Turkish foreign ministry warned that the bill would limit freedom of expression, while a former Turkish diplomat tied the passage of the measure to what he called “personal interests” of French politicians, claiming that their ties to wealthy French-Armenians prompted their legislative action.
“We have closely followed the preparation and approval processes of the draft amendments to the Law on the Freedom of Press that the French National Assembly adopted concerning criminalization of the denial of war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of genocide under certain conditions,” said Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Tanju Bilgiç in a written statement released late on Wednesday.
“In the event that the draft is enacted in its present form, it has the potential to pose the risk of unlawfully limiting the freedom of expression, especially imfringing on the jurisprudences of the ECtHR [the European Court of Human Rights] and the Constitutional Council of France,” said Bilgiç in the statement, which came in the form of an official answer by the spokesperson to a journalist’s question.
“We will also closely follow the upcoming process at the French senate in the near future regarding the draft, which has not yet been enacted,” said the statement. “We expect that the French senate will remove the elements that may have the potential to pose the risk of limiting the freedom of expression from the draft.”
Last Friday, the French National Assembly—the lower house of the country’s legislature—passed a measure that criminalizes the denial of the Armenian Genocide, among other war crimes.
In an interview with the Azerbaijan Press Agency (APA), Osman Korutürk, a former ambassador of Turkey to Paris, said that France’s adoption of a bill criminalizing genocide denial was “not due to love for Armenians,” but rather it’s “an issue completely relating to the personal interests of French politicians.”
“There are Armenians in France’s different regions who own great wealth,” said Korutürk, a former Istanbul deputy for the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), in the interview posted on Wednesday.
“They can influence the policy. One of [French President Francois] Hollande’s advisors during his election was Armenian. Hollande had promised Armenians that this bill will be adopted. After the parliament adopted the bill with the initiative of a politician like [former French President Nicolas] Sarkozy, who did not obey rules of law, the Constitutional Council of France had rejected the bill because it was against freedom of speech and expression, human rights. We were happy at that time that the Constitutional Council of France foregrounded the human rights [because] France is the cradle of the freedom. Now, the bill with the same content was adopted by the parliament with the initiative of Hollande. Compared to [the] previous bill, a small amendment was made in it: to criminalize ‘genocide’ denial, the ‘genocide’ does not need to be confirmed by any independent court,” said the retired veteran diplomat.
“This time, the Constitutional Council of France may not reject the bill. [The] Turkish government has sent the representatives of [the] other three parties in the [Turkish] parliament, who are engaged in this issue, to relevant countries to struggle politically, diplomatically and legally… [against] such issues,” he also said.