Mediator Hopeful on Armenia Thaw

Turkish-Armenian dialogue is currently in a deadlock but there is still hope of reviving the Zurich protocols signed between the two countries, according to Swiss Confederation President Micheline Calmy-Rey, who mediated the talks

Micheline Calmy-Rey, the Swiss Confederation president who led the mediation between Turkey and Armenia two years ago, said protocols between the two countries appear to be in deadlock but there is hope to continue if there is a will.

Calmy-Rey visited Turkey recently and told daily Hürriyet in an exclusive interview that “the best thing to solve these issues is dialogue.” Calmy-Rey, also the Swiss foreign minister, said there was still hope the protocols could be ratified.

“The Zurich protocols are still there. If there is a common will, then the dialogue can continue on these protocols,” she added.

After France accepted a bill penalizing the denial of Armenian genocide allegations, Ankara was criticized for welcoming the president of Switzerland, a country with a similar law.

“Now I am very surprised to hear public reaction today. It is not correct. It does not reflect our position,” Calmy-Rey said.

There is no Swiss ‘Armenian genocide’ law: president

Switzerland does not have a law that would recognize the killings of Armenians in 1915 as genocide, said Calmy-Rey, adding that their stance is different than that of France.

“It is the respected courts that decide on the basis of Article 261, which punishes acts of openly xenophobic character,” Calmy-Rey told daily Hürriyet in an exclusive interview. “It is up to the courts to say whether that action contains racism or entails discrimination. We do not talk about genocide at all in the criminal code. It is a general formulation.”

Responding to a question on Turkish politician Doğu Perinçek’s conviction in Switzerland for denying Armenian genocide claims in 2005, she said it was up to the respective court to decide criminal cases and Perinçek was jailed in Turkey [from another conviction] at the moment.

Calmy-Rey said historians should do additional research to provide findings for an open debate on the issue in Armenia and in Turkey.

She said Switzerland’s national council Dec. 23 rejected petitions asking to recognize the acts perpetrated in 1915 against the Syriac, Chaldean, Armenian and Greek populations as “genocide.”