Davutoglu thanks Clinton for French "genocide" bill remarks
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu thanked his American counterpart, Hillary Clinton, on Saturday for her remarks on France's controversial "genocide" bill, Today's Zaman reported.
Clinton was asked on Thursday why the United States has not matched a move by French lawmakers to criminalize denial that the killing of Armenians during World War I was "genocide". Clinton said the administration was wary of compromising free speech. She said the issue was best left to scholars.
The French bill enraged Turkey, which has threatened sanctions if French President Nicolas Sarkozy signs the bill. The US administration has avoided calling the killings "genocide" despite support for recognition by both Clinton and President Barack Obama when they were senators.
"To try to use government power to resolve historical issues, I think, opens a door that is a very dangerous one to go through," Clinton said at an event with US State Department employees.
Armenians claim that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I, an event widely viewed by scholars as the first "genocide" of the 20th century. Turkey denies that the deaths constituted "genocide", saying the toll has been inflated and those killed were victims of civil war and unrest.
The issue has also previously roiled US-Turkish relations. A move by a US congressional panel in 2010 to advance a resolution by the House of Representatives recognizing the killings as "genocide" caused Turkey to temporarily withdraw its ambassador to Washington. The resolution was opposed by the Obama administration. Ultimately, the full House of Representatives did not bring the measure up for a vote.
Clinton said on Thursday that the issue should be debated, but not settled by governments.
Davutoglu also discussed recent developments in the Middle East with Clinton and agreed to meet at the Munich Security Conference that both officials are scheduled to take attend on Feb. 3. Clinton and Davutoglu also discussed the Turkish foreign minister's upcoming visit to Washington next month.