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Interview with Ergun Kirlikovali, president-elect of the Assembly of Turkish-American Associations and co-founder of the Pax Turcica Institute.

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Q: How will the adoption of the bill on ‘Armenian genocide’ in the lower chamber of the French parliament influence the Turkish-French relations?

A: I am afraid there will be a wide  range of reactions including but not limited to diplomatic, economic, business, trade, social in nature. Turkey is not the same country it was in 2001, when Turkish reactions to France's one sentence law recognizing the "alleged" Armenian genocide were measured.  Turkey is a regional power on its way to becoming a global player with a steadily growing economy and strengthening manufacturing sector and exports.

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Q: What is the cause of antipathy of the current leadership of France toward Turkey?

A: Religious and ethnic bias.  Pure and simple.  These concepts are well documented for America, by Justin McCarthy in his book "Turks In America", especially chapter 2, and one needs only to replace the words America with France and Protestant with Catholic to see the parallels in both societies.  Deep rooted anti-Turkish bias is traced back to 1096, when Pope Urban II called upon all Christians to join a war against the Turks.  Thus, the first crusader started from France. Most folks got over it over the centuries, but some like Sarkozy, it seems, could not.  France's role in using the Armenians against Turks during 19th and 20th Centuries is well documented.  The First World War on the Eastern fronts were fought mostly on Ottoman/Turkish soil.

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Turks did not bomb Marseille or Paris; the French bombed Dardanelles and Antioch.  Turks did not rain death and destruction on the French people; the French invaded Turkish soil and rained death and destruction on Turks.  So who should recognize whose tragedy first?  Think about it...  Turkey's case during WWI may be one of the few cases in the world, if not the only case, where the aggressor blames the defender, and the villain impugns the victim, the haves accuse the have-nots.   Armenians took up arms against their own state and joined the invading enemy armies.

What can be lower than that?  Turks only defended their home in the face of brutal foreign invasions aided by a heinous, treacherous, treasonous fifth column involving numerous Armenians.  France should apologize to Turkey for invading Anatolia, raining death and destruction on Turkish people, for dividing the Ottoman society along ethno-religious lines, pitting one group against the other, and lying about all of this for decades in their official propaganda "yellow books."

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If one considers these points, one might realize that France has not only Turkish blood, but also Armenian blood in her hands. This move by the French Parliament might be convoluted way of saying "France is sorry for causing Armenian blood to be spilled." These are the psychologies people like Sarkozy may be fighting with in their inner worlds, whereas  Turkish conscience is crystal clear on Turkish history.  Turks have always been, as France;s own Volatire famously said, "moderate in peace and gentle in victory."

Q: Let’s get back to the bill. What can be the Turkish reaction to the possible actions of the French law-makers?

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A: Turkish Airlines (THY) is the fastest growing airlines in the world with 170 planes, about half of them Franco-Gerrman Airbus aircraft. THY's purchase in the next decade exceed 100 billion dollars. There are military contracts totaling more than even that. Mega infra-structure projects amount to huge sums. Energy corridor investments and implications are there. Turkey-France trade is about $17 billion dollars and rising. There are about a thousand French companies doing enormous amount of business. Turkey has a young and vibrant population which makes it a major market as well as a lucrative source of work force for EU.

As Arab Spring showed, Turkey' importance in geographies ranging from the Middle East to North Africa and from Balkans to Caucasus and Central Asia is constantly growing. Turkey might decide to stop sharing information and insight in this geography and even close its airfiled to French aviation, both commercial and military. Some may think so what, but if you look at all this from France's point of view, France will be the only nuclear power at the United Nations that finds itself so deliberately isolated and incomplete. By taking tacitly hostile steps against Turkey, although taking care not to mention the name of the country, in 2011, 2006, and 2008, and now poking its finger into Turkey's eye, France may have actually designed its own downfall in this vast geography. At a time when France is battling credit-rating downgrade and the country is trying to cope with shrinking economy and rising joblessness, this purely political move by a politician with shallow grasp of real-politician, i.e. Sarkozy, may go down in history as the case of "the man who shot himself in the foot."

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Q: How can the actions of the French parliamentarians influence the Turkish-Armenian reconciliation?

A: French Senate influence on the normalization process of Turkish-Armenian relations will be negative. This process, as you know,  already foresees the formation of a historians commission.  This in itself means there is a dispute that needs to be sorted out.  The French Senate seems to say "There is nothing to sort out. This is genocide.  And that's that.  No need to research this further."  This kind of authoritarian, disciplinarian, and even fascist approach, practically ending free speech, at least on this issue, is unbecoming to French tradition of democracy.  French Senate will be, in effect, replacing history scholarship with legislation.

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Q: Can Azerbaijan provide any support to Turkey in resisting campaign of Armenian lobby on passing the ‘genocide’ in the parliaments of other countries?

A: Azerbaijan and Turkey must act together in all moves concerning Armenia, ranging from the alleged genocide to Karabakh and its surroundings.  The world must see that they cannot separate the two countries.  Then they will realize that Azerbaijan, with her natural energy resources and young and well educated population, and Turkey dedicated to its Turkic heritage,  a rising regional power, and an energy corridor, are inseparable.

When a country decides to strike at one, they will find both countries reacting strongly. That is already happening. We must stay the course and pass the message that if you attack one of us, you attack both of us.  If you attack one of us, that means you will have energy problems, regional presence difficulties, and trade and industry deficiencies.  If you attack one of us, you will pay for it dearly in terms of lost markets, investments, and future.

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