13 October 2004
A French prosecutor asked a Paris court this week to drop a case against Turkish Consulate General diplomats filed by an Armenian lobbying group that had campaigned for recognition of the so-called Armenian genocide, arguing that the court did not have jurisdiction over the matter.
The group, known as the Campaign for the Recognition of the Armenian Genocide of France, appealed to the court in July, claiming that the denial of the so-called genocide allegations on the consulate's Web site was propaganda material that targetted the French public, the Anatolia news agency reported. The group then attempted to have the Turkish diplomats charged and the Internet site closed down.
The prosecutor, however, argued that the court should dismiss the case since Turkish diplomats at the consulate had diplomatic immunity. Defense lawyers for the consulate presented a similar defense before the court at the first hearing on Monday. The trial was postponed to mid-November.
The defense lawyers said recognition of the so-called genocide became law in France after being approved by the French Parliament; however, the law did not impose limitations on Turkey vis-a-vis broadcasting its views on its own Web site.
The defense also argued the case as a matter concerning freedom of expression and thought and said there was no legal reason to prevent discussions of the so-called genocide.
France recognized the so-called Armenian genocide two years ago when President Jacques Chriac approved a parliamentary resolution. Turkey protested the move, and military projects undertaken by France were suspended.
Relations between Turkey and France have improved considerably since Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan paid an official visit to Paris earlier this week. Erdogan is expected to meet with Chrirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder later this month for the signing of an agreement to purchase aircraft from German-French joint venture Airbus, expected to add momentum to the betterment of Turkish-French relations.