Turkey Hails Swiss Verdict

ISTANBUL (Noyan Tapan)–The Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a statement Tuesday welcoming a verdict by a Swiss court–whereby charges brought against Turkish organizations by a group of Armenia’s regarding the Armenian Genocide were ruled not racist.

The Foreign Ministry press secretary Husein Dirioz hailed the decision of the Bern court during his recent press briefing–expressing hope that the case will serve as a precedent to all other claims brought forth by Armenia’s.

After an unprecedented trial–a Swiss court Friday cleared prominent Turkish organizations of charges that they violated racial discrimination laws by disputing the World War I era genocide of Armenia’s.

The case was based on Switzerland’s 1995 anti-racism law–making it a criminal offense to "deny–grossly minimize or seek to justify genocide or other crimes against humanity." Until now it was used only against those denying the existence of the Nazi Holocaust.

A Swiss-Armenian association filed a criminal complaint in 1997–objecting to a letter by Turkish associations which said that the "analogy between the (Nazi) Holocaust and the displacement of the Armenian population has no basis."

"It is not possible to talk about ‘genocide’ when the Ottoman government never intended to ‘exterminate’ the Armenia’s," said the letter–drafted by a coordinating body of Swiss-based Turkish organizations.

The Turkish letter to members of the Swiss parliament was in response to a petition by the Armenian community urging Switzerland to recognize as genocide the killing of more than a million Armenia’s during and after World War I. Court president Lienhard Ochsner dismissed the case for lack of subjective evidence and said there is no sign that the Turks knowingly breached the anti-racism law. The letter was merely an attempt to voice the opinion of the Turkish community in Switzerland–he ruled.

"They wanted to preserve the untarnished image of their homeland," said Ochsner in his judgment. It was the first case of its kind worldwide.

He said that none of the accused were academics familiar with historical events. All had been influenced by the Turkish teaching of history–which portrayed the genocide purely as an unsubstantiated Armenian allegation.

The Swiss-Armenian association said it will appeal.

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