A N U Assyrian News Watch
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Assyrian Chaldean Syriac

Source: ANN / GROONG
Date: June 13, 2000


June 9, 2000

In an unprecedented and historic move, the French Senate is bringing
together historians, journalists, public figures, human rights
activists, and researchers from both Turkey and Armenia for a colloquium
that is to take place in Paris on June 17, 2000.

One of the central goals of this meeting is to place future Turko-Armenian
relations on a new plateau, while refraining as much as
possible from the acrimonies and hostile recriminations that have hitherto
aggravated relations between the two neighboring nations. It is hoped that
the colloquium will produce a Charter for Dialogue, which may set the tone
for fostering Turko-Armenian relations at a new level.

In announcing the decision and the respective arrangements on June 6, Mr.
Christian Poncelet, the President of the French Senate made the following

"It is not too late to induce Turkey to make up with its neighbors,
especially Armenia, and to come to terms with its own history, as other
countries have done. Such a step seems to me all the more practical,
inasmuch as the Turks of the year 2000 are not responsible for the misdeeds
of some of their forefathers. Already in 1982, I personally consulted with
the French Government regarding the issue of the recognition of the Armenian

This completely unexpected turn of events is significant in two major
respects. Twice before in recent months, the French Senate refused to
consider a bill which would debate the official French recognition of the
Armenian Genocide, as the French lower house of parliament, The Chamber of
Deputies, had done in a unanimous vote on May 29, 1998.

In contrast, the Swedish Parliament, in tune with the recent trend, passed a
formal resolution on March 29 of this year, recognizing the Armenian
Genocide and urging Turkey to do so, as well. The parliamentary report
asserted, "An official statement and recognition of the Genocide of the
Armenians is important and necessary. In 1985, the UN and the European
Parliament established the fact that the Ottoman Empire had committed
genocide against the Armenian People in the beginning of the 20th century.
The Committee on Foreign Affairs is of the opinion that the greater openness
that Turkey presents, the stronger Turkey's democratic identity will be. It
is therefore important that unbiased, independent, and international
research on the genocide that affected the Armenian people be accomplished."

Equally, if not more significant, is the fact that in recent months,
prominent Israeli public figures, including the Minister for Justice, Yossi
Beilin, and the Minister for Education, Yossi Sarid, have publicly supported
the idea of recognizing the Armenian Genocide, with Beilin declaring in
April that, "...our attitude toward such a dreadful event can not be
dictated by our friendly relations with
Turkey....Something happened that can not be defined except as
genocide....We can not accept their [Turks'] political demands to ignore a
historical event. An ethical stand can not be dictated by political
needs-these are two separate tracks."

All these developments are underscored by the appearance in the Jerusalem
Post on June 8 and the New York Times on June 9 of full-page declarations,
in which 126 Holocaust scholars from around the world "affirm the
incontestable fact of the Armenian Genocide and urge Western democracies to
officially recognize it." The declaration goes on to state that in their
petition, the scholars "asked the Western Democracies to urge the Government
and Parliament of Turkey to finally come to terms with a dark chapter of
Ottoman-Turkish history and to recognize the Armenian Genocide."

Among the twenty-six distinguished names which appear in the publication of
this declaration, is that of Nobel Laureate for Peace, Elie Wiesel.