French insurer caught between Armenians, Turks

31st October 2005, Comments 0 comments

ANKARA, Oct 31 (AFP) - A powerful Turkish civil servants' trade union has decided to boycott French insurer AXA after the company agreed to indemnify heirs of victims of the 1915 Turkish massacre of Armenians, the head of the union said Monday.

ANKARA, Oct 31 (AFP) - A powerful Turkish civil servants' trade union has decided to boycott French insurer AXA after the company agreed to indemnify heirs of victims of the 1915 Turkish massacre of Armenians, the head of the union said Monday.

"We must put an end to business relations with AXA. It is not possible for us to do business with a company that tramples the rights of our country," Ahmet Aksu, the head of the Memur-Sen union, told AFP.

He said that Memur-Sen had appealed to its 200,000 members not to take out policies from AXA.

The insurers unleashed a wave of anger in Turkey after they agreed on October 13 to settle a class action suit by descendants of the victims of the controversial killings under Ottoman rule for US $17 million (EUR 14.5 million).

Under the terms of the deal announced in the United States, AXA will donate at least three million dollars to various French-based Armenian charities and another US $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 the Turkish Republic.

The deal, which was harshly criticised by the Turkish media, also dealt a blow to OYAK, an industrial venture representing the army pension fund and AXA's partner in Turkey since 1999.

OYAK announced after the deal that it was reviewing the situation in the light of the "sensitivities of the Turkish people".

Aksu argued that OYAK should dissociate itself from the French company.

"Their union hurts us deeply. Think about it: one of Turkey's most trustworthy institutions (the armed forces) is working with a company like Axa," he said.

Aksu said his trade union appealed to its members to demonstrate next week in front of AXA-OYAK offices.

Memur-Sen also wants AXA to issue a public apology and to indemnify Turks killed by Armenians during the last years of the Ottoman Empire.

Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Namik Tan said AXA's position has nothing to do with the government's views of the Armenian massacres.

Armenians say up to 1.5 million of them were slaughtered in an orchestrated genocide under the Ottoman Empire.

Ankara rejects the genocide label and argues that 300,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks died in civil strife during World War I when Armenians took up arms for independence in eastern Anatolia and sided with Russian troops invading the crumbling Ottoman Empire.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article