Turkey at Odds with France Over Proposed Genocide Resolution

ANKARA (Combined Sources)–Turkey is reacting against French attempts to revive what it calls "the historic claims of an Armenian genocide in a period of blossoming relations between France and Turkey."

Meanwhile the Armenian Foreign Ministry announced France’s efforts to recognize the Armenian Genocide stating that this action expressed France’s will to encourage peace in the region.

On Wednesday Ankara summoned the French Ambassador to Turkey Daniel Lequertier to explain Turkey’s displeasure over a resolution concerning the alleged Armenian genocide that the French Parliament will debate on May 29.

"Turkey expressed its evident sensitivity and displeasure over the issue to the ambassador," a senior diplomat told the Turkish Daily News.

The reason for the visit of the French ambassador was initially unclear since the visit coincided with studies and talks underway between France and Turkey within the framework of the Turkey-France 2000 high-level action plan.

Earlier Wednesday–Foreign Ministry spokesman Necati Utkan said that concerning this specific issue–attempts were being made to create an atmosphere between Turkey and France similar to that of the 1980s.

He said that Turkey’s Ambassador to France Sonmez Koksal would convey a letter by Turkish speaker of Parliament Hikmet Cetin to his French counterpart. The TDN’s Paris correspondent–Nazlan Ertan–said that the meeting is due to take place later on Wednesday.

Utkan also noted that Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz has sent a letter to his French counterpart Lionel Jospin expressing Turkey’s displeasure. The spokesman added that the meeting on the rather sensitive issue will continue on the upcoming day.

The initiative on the Armenian issue by some socialist party deputies had earlier led to a meeting between Turkey’s ambassador to Paris and Foreign Ministry Secretary-General Bertrand Dufurcq on Tuesday.

The French Socialists of the ruling majority party reported their intention to submit to the French National Assembly a bill concerning official recognition by France of the Armenian Genocide of 1915.

According to the Socialists in the National Assembly–this "will be a worthwhile response to the insistent deman’s on the Armenian people."

The new bill is expected to contain a single article stating that "France recognizes the Genocide of the Armenia’s in 1915."

"I see no reason why such a law should be turned down," said Rene Rouket–an initiator of the bill.

The proposition to recognize the Armenian Genocide has been supported by a number of opposition members–including prominent member of the Gaullist Party Patrick Devedjian.

In an interview with Azg daily newspaper–the only French-Armenian member of parliament Patrique Devedjian stated that he will do his utmost to ensure the passage of the Genocide resolution in France.

He stated that while he did not believe that parliamentary members or factions would be influenced by Turkey–the French government would probably be pressured regarding the resolution.

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