The draft bill "To Penalize the Denial of Armenian Genocide" that we've been hearing the footsteps of since 1998 in France, has passed the French National Assembly. Although the bill has a long way into practice, the fact that it has passed the French National Assembly as is has had negative effects on French-Turkish relations and accession efforts to European Union, which had been accelerating over the past five years.
Although an analysis of last 100 years of Turkish-French relations is required to evaluate the Armenian issue, it is noteworthy to understand how October 12 was arrived at.
The French bill of 1998, realized in 2001, was a result of the fact that Kojarian, the newly elected president in 1998, had given top priority in foreign affairs to the recognition of "Armenian Genocide" on the international arena. Working with the most powerful names of the Armenian diaspora, the Armenian government had France pass the bill on the National Assembly with only 29 votes on May 29, 1998. The bill was suspended at the Senate in order not to "anger" Turkey, but on January 30, 2001, contrary to the promises he had made, was approved and passed by Chirac. Following these developments, the economic relations were minimized and French companies, especially in defence sector, were not accepted to public bids. However, these cold reactions lasted only until December of 2001. Despite Turkey's short reaction "The Committee of the Defense of the Armenian Cause" (Comité de la Défense de la Cause Arménienne) polled and expected replies from the candidates of the 2002 elections and asked the possibility of penalizing the denial of the genocide.
So what can happen after this point? Once passed by the National Assembly, the bill can be sent to the Constitutional Court for cancellation by the request of the President, the Prime Minister or 60 members of the Parliament within 15 days. The Senate may not approve it or have it annulled by suspending until the imminent 2007 elections. Or if this scenario wouldn't come true, the President may not sign the bill.
On the French part, for a country who has created and globalized the concepts of liberty, equality and fraternity, the approval of a bill which prevents the freedom of expression is a black stain for its past, present and future.
The crisis, second time since 2001, should be good lesson for Turkey. From this point, instead of unconsciously kicking the refrigerators, conscious reactions must be shown. Protesting companies that have investments in our country, that provide employment to our citizens and that do everything in their power to prevent this bill, is not only ridiculus, but also unjust. This Armenian issue which will continue to hurt Turkey in the international arena must be solved not with many small projects but should be made a large scale global project to be announced globally, relying on historic factual documents, prepared jointly by the international academia where European scientists are a part of. Armenia, by refusing the call from our Prime Minister saying we are prepared to face our history if they are prepared to face their history, and France by attempting to restrict any discussion and freedom of expression, has strenghend the hand of Turkey. With this respect, world countries that have ties with Turkey and France should react with common sence and objectivity so that Turkey can believe that the warnings to improve her freedom of expression are an exception.