PARIS—French President Nicolas Sarkozy this week sent a letter to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan urging reason and restraint in regards to a bill that would criminalize the denial of the Genocide and is to be considered by the French Senate Monday.
In his letter, Sarkozy outlined that France has dealt with its own past, and urged Turkey to follow suit by using reason. He also said that Turkey would be responsible for taking any steps that could damage bilateral relations.
In his letter, Sarkozy said the bill is “in no way aimed at any state or people in particular” and is intended to “protect the memories of members of our society who have been carrying along with them for a very long time the feeling of denial of what their ancestors went through and to heal their wounds inflicted a hundred years ago.”
“France has admitted the very bitter truths–its responsibility in the sale of slaves, its role in sending to death camps Jews living in France. In 2007, I myself condemned the atrocity of the French colonization in Algeria and spoke about the pains of the Algerian people,” explained Sarkozy in his letter.
“I hope we can make reason prevail and maintain our dialogue, as befits allies and friendly countries,” Sarkozy wrote.
“I want you to know that extreme steps, in connection with this bill, will harm relations between the two countries, and the responsibility will fall upon the party that has taken those steps,” Sarkozy said in his letter.
While Erdogan or his office did not comment on the letter, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was quick to reject Sarkozy’s overture.
“We expect (President Nicolas) Sarkozy, his party, and the French Senate to respect European values before anything else. Those who exploit history will themselves suffer from this exploitation,” Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said in televised remarks.
“We invite each French senator to stop for a while and think beyond all political interests,” Davutoğlu told the press.
“If the bill passes, it will remain as a black stain in France’s intellectual history. And we will always remind them this black stain,” he said.
Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of France, Hratch Varjabedian told Asbarez that leaders of Sarkozy’s Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) and the opposition Socialist party have expressed their support for the resolution ahead of Monday’s vote.