Turkey Intensifies Efforts to Ward Off Armenian Bill

ANKARA (Turkish Daily News)–Angered by the decision of the French parliament to recognize the Armenian Genocide perpetrated by Ottoman Turks in 1915–Turkey has intensified efforts to prevent the French Senate from endorsing the bill as well.

Turkish members of the Turko-French parliamentarians’ friendship group will travel to Paris on Monday to meet their French counterparts with the aim of persuading them to block approval of the bill by the Senate. Without Senate approval the bill cannot become law.

The delegation–headed by Mumtaz Soysal from the Democratic Left Party–will meet with a number of French parliamentarians and senators and will highlight the damage which bilateral relations would suffer in the event that the bill does become law–the Anatolia news agency reported.

On Wednesday–President Suleyman Demirel sent a letter to his French counterpart–Jacques Chirac–urging him to use his influence over the French legislative bodies to prevent the ultimate endorsement of the Armenian bill–Foreign Ministry spokesman Necati Utkan said on Thursday.

"The French parliament has taken a thoroughly wrong step. I hope that this mistake will be corrected during the upcoming legal process and the casting of a shadow over the perfect state of bilateral relations will be prevented. Relying on our personal friendship and the importance you attribute to Turko-French relations–I believe that your influence on the legislative organs will be particularly effective," Demirel said in his letter.

"Every country has experienced grievous events in its history. It is a historical reality that during World War I the Armenia’s revolted in 1915 and carried out violent attacks against the Ottoman’state and its civilians. Both sides suffered significant casualties when the Armenia’s were deported to areas outside the war," Demirel said in his letter.

He added that distorting these facts and presenting them as a genocide would be a breach of political morale and legal criteria–emphasizing that no evidence proving the alleged genocide has been presented to date.

The Zeytinburnu Young Businessmen’s’ Association protested the passing of a draft bill in the French Parliament by laying a black wreath in front of the French General Consulate. Carrying Turkish flags and a black wreath–association members gathered in the Taksim Square at around 11:00 p.m. and proceeded towards the premises of the French Consulate where police had taken security measures.

In his press statement–Chairman of the Young Businessmen’s Association Mimar Suleyman Ulucak said that France’s move only served the interests of countries that were disturbed by the "golden age" in Turko-French relations and wanted to sabotage this. Ulucak said the following: "Do they want to extend an invitation to this terrorism which has already martyred 34 of our citizens? We hope that this so-called draft bill will not lead to new murders.

"The friendship between Turkish and Armenian citizens will not end. On this land where we have lived in friendship throughout history–we as Turkish citizens do not accept the so-called genocide draft bill." After the press release–the group put a black wreath besides the entrance stairs of the General Consulate and dispersed after singing the Turkish national anthem.

The French parliament passed the bill last Friday and the Senate is expected to discuss it on June 29. Turkey has harshly denounced the attitude of the French parliament–saying in a note of protest that the bill will harm bilateral relations and encourage Armenian terrorism–which has to date led to the murders of 31 members of the Turkish diplomatic corps.

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