The decision by the French Parliament to pass a law punishing those who deny that the bloody events of 1915 in the last days of the Ottoman era were a “genocide” of Armenians has been the main issue in Turkey’s press agenda.
Turkish media, which have limited their nationalist stance over the last couple years because of the current government’s “openness” policies, returned to its old days after French decision.
The most interesting headline came from Radikal. It reads “Les Miserables” referring to French author Victor Hugo, with photos of French President Sarkozy along with two French parliamentarians who initiated the “genocide” law. The daily drew attention to the fact that even academics will be arrested, and criticised the law as a violation of the freedom of speech. Radikal columnist Oral Çalışlar wrote “these kind of foreign decisions are making internal discussions more complicated.”
Haberturk columnist Fatih Altayli said “we should not take this decision seriously. It only proves the incapacity of Sarkozy. He has no idea about what happened in 1915. I feel sorry for French people for having this man as their president.”
Taraf and Vatan referred to Alain Juppe’s words and defined the law as “Unnamed stupidity”. The two papers underlined the fact that the “genocide” law itself did not contain the word “Armenian” in it.
Zaman and Sabah highlighted Turkey’s reactions and its promises to punish France for the law. Zaman said “Relations suspended” and summarized Turkey’s planned actions to retaliate against the law.
Milliyet criticised the parliamentarians who worked hard to pass this law and blamed them for future deterioration of bilateral relations and called them a “Bunch of spoilers.”
Hurriyet also followed that line, decrying a “Wild Minority” in reference to a small number of MPs at the session. Columnist Sedat Ergin warned that this decision may strengthen anti-European feelings in Turkey and move Turkish society away from the West.
Posta columnist Mehmet Ali Birand said “It is not shame on us, it is shame on Sarkozy. France is breaching its own constitution. Sarkozy proved that he thinks small. This is a diplomatic murder.”
Hardliner tabloid Sözcü is another paper using Français and it said “45 Maniaque”, harshly criticizing the French government and called for boycott of French goods.
Turkish television channels and internet based news sites are also full of criticism of France, which largely reflects the mood of the country.