Armenian genocide not key to EU talks: France

14th December 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Dec 14 (AFP) - Turkey does not have to acknowledge accusations of genocide against Armenians living under Turkish rule in the early 20th century as a pre-condition for opening talks on EU membership, French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said Tuesday.

PARIS, Dec 14 (AFP) - Turkey does not have to acknowledge accusations of genocide against Armenians living under Turkish rule in the early 20th century as a pre-condition for opening talks on EU membership, French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said Tuesday.

"France does not pose it (acknowledging the Armenian genocide) as a condition, notably not for opening negotiations (on EU accession)," Barnier told the state-owned television station France 2.

"Legally, that would not be possible," he said, two days before a summit meeting in Brussels at which EU leaders are likely to give the go-ahead for opening talks on Turkey's accession to the European Union.

Turkey's recognition of the genocide of the Armenian people - in which an estimated 1.5 million people died between 1915 and 1917 - was "a question, a question that we will raise in the course of negotiations, and we have around 10 years to raise it," Barnier added.

Turkey says that between 250,000 and 500,000 Armenians and thousands of Turks were killed in civil strife during World War One, when the Armenians rose up against their Ottoman rulers.

But Barnier said the "goal of a united Europe was based upon reconciliation," similar to the Franco-German reconciliation after World War Two.

"So you can reconcile yourself with those against whom you have fought, you have to come to terms with yourself, with your own history," the foreign minister said.

"I think that the time has come, and Turkey has to carry out this task as a memorial to the tragedy at the beginning of century which affected hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of Armenians."

The French parliament passed a law in 2001 stating that genocide had occurred, which cast a pall over Turkey's relations with France.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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