This week, domestic press coverage in Turkey closely followed developments regarding the resolution eventually passed by the French Senate that criminalized the denial of genocide, including the 1915 conflict between Ottoman authorities and Armenians in that category. Various dailies highlighted French Judge Thierry Fragnoli’s opposition to the bill, and criticized the letter from French President Sarkozy to Prime Minister Erdoğan, underlining its denunciation by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. In Cumhuriyet, columnist Utku Çakırözer cited the apprehensions of France’s Ambassador to Turkey, Laurent Bili. Several newspapers discussed proposals to send tax inspectors to Charles De Gaulle French high school in Ankara, to change the name of the street in front of the French Embassy from Paris Street to Algeria Street, and to initiate a boycott of French goods.
When the resolution passed, newspapers endorsed Erdoğan’s accusations of French racism and fascism, as well as Davutoğlu’s assertion of EU “hypocrisy,” dwelling on Sarkozy’s ancestry, citing that his Grandfather was an Ottoman Jew whose forebears were banished from Spain during the Inquisition. Several dailies hailed plans by dissenting French Senators to apply to their Constitutional Council for an annulment of the controversial bill, and the exclusion of Sabine Bili, the wife of the French Ambassador, from a lunch for female dignitaries in Turkey hosted by President Gül’s wife, Hayrünnisa Gül.
In other foreign affairs news, Davutoğlu received favorable coverage for his interview on El Arabiya, in which he restated Turkey’s willingness to back an intervention in Syria. Fewer newspapers covered Turkey’s strategic planning for a possible attack by Israel against Iran, as well as Turkey’s attempt to forge a stronger relationship with South Korea. Erdoğan described Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s complaints about Turkish involvement in Iraqi affairs as “ugly” and unfounded on the same day that the Turkish government claimed six PKK terrorists were among the 34 civilians killed in the controversial attack in Uludere last month. A reported escalation in PKK violence in Europe was widely condemned.
On the heels of a disputed judicial reform package, the Turkish Human Rights Foundation issued a report to the parliament’s commission for human rights decrying the number of unprosecuted politically-motivated murders, prompting Erdoğan to vow to follow up on the yet unresolved killing of Hrant Dink, Turkey’s foremost Armenian news editor. In Hürriyet, Yalçın Doğan criticized a new law that provides for state secrets to remain confidential for 75 years. Turkish President Abdullah Gül approved a bill this week allowing him to hold his office for seven years, until 2014, and barring him from another term. In an apartment in the Elvankent suburb of Ankara, security forces found 25 kilograms of TNT explosives. Former Police Chief Dr. Hasan Yağar suggested that domestic violence in Turkey was the result of women provoking their husbands. And in a speech in parliament, Erdoğan stated plans to abolish compulsory national security lessons in all high schools.