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SELÇUK GÜLTAŞLI

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SELÇUK GÜLTAŞLI
February 07, 2007, Wednesday

The European Article 301 in the making

It was almost shocking what Time magazine did this week by publishing a full page ad about "a compelling documentary on the Armenian genocide" combined  with a 98-minute DVD on the "genocide," both paid for by the weekly magazine. The amount is huge when you consider that 550,000 copies are distributed weekly throughout Europe.
The Armenian lobby gleefully declared that the magazine came to this decision as a way apologize for the mistaken distribution of a CD made by the Ankara Chamber of Commerce two years ago that claimed no genocide occurred. As Time has not returned our emails, we only know this due to the statement from the lobby. Since the weekly hasn't denied this, we shall assume it is true.

The timing of the magazine's decision is interesting and wise. There are several initiatives around the world by the Armenian lobby that would be detrimental to Turkey's interests if approved. While the law penalizing the deniers of the Armenian "genocide" is awaiting vote in the French Senate, the US Congress is preparing to vote on a bill that would recognize the tragedy of 1915 as a genocide. Time's "free" support for the Armenian cause, coming in the wake of Hrant Dink's murder, also coincides with the EU term president Germany's initiative to legislate a pan-EU law that will criminalize the deniers of not only genocide, but also war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Germany issued a statement on Jan. 29 outlining its position on the matter. The scope of the draft is non-specific and open to proposals from member countries. Germans have recommitted themselves to revive the negotiations on the framework decision to combat racism and xenophobia that was first proposed two years ago by the Luxembourg presidency. However, because the scope of the draft is so wide, many acts can be criminalized that should be considered under the banner of freedom of speech.

The draft also creates a large vacuum for member countries to get involved. It says: "Pursuant to the draft, member states have the possibility of making criminal liability dependent upon the determination by a national or international court that a concrete historic event constituted genocide, a crime against humanity, or a war crime." Considering the efforts of the Armenian lobby both in France and Belgium to get laws issued to penalize the deniers of the "genocide," Turkey should be worried. Though it is too early to say, it could pave the way for a EU-wide law that would penalize deniers of the Armenian "genocide" and make it equal to the Holocaust. The Armenian lobby has invested a lot in the German proposal and they already declare that in the event of the approval of the German proposal, Turkey would have to change its mind on 1915 if it wants to be a member of the EU.

The European Article 301 is looming on the horizon.