French Senate President Urges Genocide Recognition

PARIS–In an unprecedented move–French Senate President Christian Poncelet made a declaration Tuesday–urged Turkey "to come to terms with its own history," regarding the recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

This announcement came as Poncelet was announcing an initiative to bring together Armenian and Turkish historians–politicians–journalists and human rights activists for a colloquium scheduled to take place in Paris on June 17.

"It is not too late to induce Turkey to make up with its neighbors–especially Armenia–and come to terms with its own history–as other countries have done. Such a step seems to me all the more practical–inasmuch as the Turks of the year 2000 are not responsible for the misdeeds of some of their forefathers. Already in 1982–I personally consulted with the French Government regarding the issue of the recognition of the Armenian Genocide," said Poncelet in his June 6 letter.

Twice before in recent months–the French Senate refused to consider a bill which would debate the official French recognition of the Armenian Genocide–as the French parliament had done in a unanimous vote on May 29–1998.

The recent recognition by the Swedish parliament of the Armenian Genocide–coupled with statemen’s by Israeli Justice and Education ministers regarding the importance of recognizing the Genocide–have established a trend in the international community to address the Genocide issue.

In April–Israeli Education Minister Yossi Sarid urged the teaching of the Armenian Genocide in Israeli public schools–while his colleague the Justice Minister Yossi Beilin declared "…our attitude toward such a dreadful event can not be dictated except as genocide… We cannot accept their [Turks’] political deman’s to ignore a historical event. An ethical stand cannot be dictated by political needs–these are two separate tracks."

On Friday and Thursday–an advertisement appeared in The New York Times and the Jerusalem Post respectively–and signed by 126 Holocaust scholars–affirming "the incontestable fact of the Armenian Genocide," and urges "Western democracies to officially recognize it [the genocide]."

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