(AFP) - French insurer AXA said Wednesday that its decision to indemnify heirs of Armenians massacred under the Ottoman Empire was neither politically motivated nor amounted to a recognition of the killings as genocide.
"AXA, as a private sector company, has not (and does not) express any view or opinion on the political or historical issues concerning the nature of the events in Turkey in 1915," the company said in a statement received here. "From AXA's perspective this case is exclusively about meeting our obligations under unpaid insurance contracts," it said.
AXA unleashed a wave of anger in Turkey after it agreed last month to settle a class action suit in the United States by descendants of victims of the killings for $17 million. Armenians hailed the settlement as a boost for their international campaign to have the World War I massacres recognized as genocide, an accusation Turkey categorically rejects.
Under the deal, AXA will donate at least $3 million to various French-based Armenian charities and $11 million to a fund designed to pay out to policy holders of AXA units that did business in the Ottoman Empire, the predecessor of modern Turkey. The deal also dealt a blow to OYAK, an industrial venture representing the Turkish army pension fund, which has been AXA's partner in Turkey since 1999.
A powerful Turkish civil servants' union, Memur-Sen, said Monday it had decided to boycott AXA and urged Oyak to terminate its partnership with the French company.