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Armenia Rejects Turkish Criticism Of France


Armenia - Ambassador Henri Reynaud (L) is greeted by young Armenians demonstrating outside the French Embassy in Yerevan, 24Jan2012.

Armenia - Ambassador Henri Reynaud (L) is greeted by young Armenians demonstrating outside the French Embassy in Yerevan, 24Jan2012.

Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian has denounced Turkey’s harsh criticism of France, saying it only proves that French lawmakers were right to pass a law that makes it a crime to deny the Armenian genocide.

“Turkey’s extremely accusatory reaction to France, its accusatory reaction to all those countries that have recognized the Armenian genocide, its offensive and provocative statements about the Armenian people and the Armenian Diaspora formed as a result of the genocide … testify to a state policy of [genocide] denial,” the Armenian Foreign Ministry quoted him as saying during a visit to Lithuania late on Thursday.

“This is a very dangerous phenomenon,” Nalbandian said. “And it proves the necessity and importance of the law adopted by France. “That decision should be backed by other countries so that new crimes against humanity cannot be committed.”

Lithuania - Foreign Minister Audronius Azubalis (R) and his Armenian counterpart Edward Nalbandian sign an agreement in Vilnius, 26Jan2012.

Lithuania - Foreign Minister Audronius Azubalis (R) and his Armenian counterpart Edward Nalbandian sign an agreement in Vilnius, 26Jan2012.

The Turkish government has reacted furiously to the bill’s passage by both houses of the French parliament. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday labeled the measure “discriminatory and racist” and threatened more sanctions against Paris.

By contrast, Armenia welcomed the bill, with President Serzh Sarkisian describing it as “historic” in a letter to his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy.

Speaking at a joint news conference with Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Audronius Azubalis, Nalbandian also insisted that the French law will not hamper further efforts to normalize relations between Armenia and Turkey. “Everyone knows that if there is anybody hampering the normalization it’s Turkey itself, he said.

Nalbandian appeared to refer to Ankara’s failure to ratify the Western-backed Turkish-Armenian normalization protocols that were signed in 2009. Erdogan’s government has made their implementation conditional the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Azubalis stressed the need for Turkey to address the 1915 mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire which Lithuania’s parliament recognized as genocide in 2005. “Sooner or later, history will knock on the doors of the present and we will have to open them,” he said, according to an Armenian Foreign Ministry statement. “We must confront history, we must evaluate events of the past in an open, clear and honest manner.”

“Those who say that history should be left to historians are wrong,” Azubalis was reported to add. “Distrust and problems in bilateral relations will persist until we settle scores with the past.”
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