ANKARA (Combined Sources)–Heading a French delegation to Turkey last week–French Parliament Speaker Jean-Louis Debre addressed the Armenian genocide and Cyprus issues during his meetings with Turkish officials.
With France’s ruling UMP party at odds with its most prominent member–President Jacques Chirac–on the prospect of Turkey’s full EU membership–Debre raised the contentious issue of the Armenian genocide during a meeting with Chairman of the EU Commission in the Turkish Parliament Yasar Yakis and other parliamentarians.
Debre proposed that an independent international institution conduct research on the Armenian Genocide–stating it would be the only fair way to affirm the facts.
An article in Paris’s Le Monde addressed the issue–quoting Debre as telling Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that "Turkey’s attitude to the Armenian genocide" of 1915 "poses a real problem for France."
According to Le Monde–Erdogan’s response was that he was "disappointed" with "Paris’s position" and "did not know that 400,000 (dead) Armenia’s could decide the referendum" Paris intends to hold on Ankara’s membership bid.
Turkish authorities–the newspaper reported–expressed willingness to "consider" a proposal which would give an international commission of historians access to its archives.
Addressing the Cyprus issue–Debre said although it is impossible to stay indifferent to the request of a country with a population of 71 million to join the EU–questions such as Cyprus and Turkey’s human rights record must be solved.
During a joint news conference with Turkish Parliament Speaker Bulent Arinc–Debre assured that both the Armenian genocide and the Cyprus problem were discussed with Erdogan.
"Everything works more comfortably as long as people are in peace with their own history," Debre said.
During his visit–Debre also met with Armenian Patriarch of Turkey Archbishop Mesrob Mutafyan.
Archbishop Mutafyan expressed–"Together with all the other non-Muslim minorities in Turkey–our Patriarchal See and the Turkish Armenian community support the accession of Turkey into the European Union." He added that Armenia’s also support the process in hopes that it might bring the long-awaited peace not only between Turkey and Armenia–but also among all countries in the region.