France: Turks Must Admit Genocide
Report; Posted on: 2006-10-02 00:15:41

Admit genocide before joining EU, Chirac tells Turkey

French President Jacques Chirac on Saturday urged Turkey to recognise World War I-era massacres of Armenians as genocide if it wants to join the European Union, speaking during a visit to the Armenian capital.

In comments that are likely to irritate Ankara and put a further strain on its relations with France, Chirac told a news conference Turkey needed to face up to its Ottoman past in response to a question on the nation’s EU ambitions.

Asked if he thought Turkey should recognise the 1915-1917 massacres as genocide before it joins the EU, the French president replied: “Honestly, I believe so.” “All countries grow up acknowledging their dramas and their errors,” said Chirac, who is on a two-day visit to Armenia, where he has paid homage to Yerevan’s “genocide” memorial and attended the inauguration of a “France Square” in central Yerevan. Until now, France had refused to make a direct link between the genocide issue and Turkey’s EU membership bid. The bloc has not made it a condition of entry.

But a response to the same question by Chirac’s Armenian counterpart Robert Kocharian was markedly softer, reflecting Armenia’s desire to mend ties with its neighbour and improve its struggling economy.

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