The fallout from France’s controversial genocide bill continues, with more protests taking place across Turkey, including one organised by a nationalist group outside the French embassy in Istanbul. The crowd chanted anti-Europe slogans and urged French President Nicolas Sarkozy not to make a mistake by allowing the law to pass.
Not all Armenians welcome the bill, including Robert Koptas, the editor of a well-known Armenian paper Agos which is published in Turkey.
“At this time, while there’s no awareness in Turkey about the issue, while Turkish people don’t know enough about it, punishing people who deny this part of history in a foreign country – in France -sentencing them to a year of imprisonment plus a heavy fine of 45 thousand euros, doesn’t look right to me,” he said.
Koptas also felt the law could be counterproductive: “I think the reaction in Turkey is extreme in general. Because of this, the French law will harm our efforts to discuss this matter here. It obstructs dialogue on this issue. This gives extra ammunition to nationalists and those who deny this part of history. When France limits freedom of speech, it legitimises restrictions on freedom of speech here in Turkey.”
The Turkish National Assembly’s France-Turkey Friendship group has disbanded, with parliament’s speaker remarking that there was no need for such a group now there is no friendship between the two countries.