Turkey’s MGK discusses France, Syria

The MGK meeting, chaired by President Abdullah Gül and attended by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel, was held at the Çankaya presidential palace.

Turkey’s National Security Council (MGK) on Wednesday convened in Ankara for the last meeting of 2011 with an agenda dominated by recent developments in Syria as well as a recent French move to penalize the denial of Armenian allegations.

The MGK meeting, chaired by President Abdullah Gül and attended by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel, was held at the Çankaya presidential palace.

The council reportedly discussed the approval by the French National Assembly of a bill which makes it a crime to deny that the 1915 killings of Armenians during the fall of the Ottoman Empire were tantamount to genocide.

Legislators in France’s lower house of parliament last week voted overwhelmingly in favor of a draft law outlawing the denial of the 1915 events as genocide. The senate is slated to debate the bill next year.

Turkey, which vehemently rejects the term “genocide” for the World War I-era mass killings of Armenians, saying the issue should be left to historians, was outraged by the French move and reduced ties with Paris. It recalled its ambassador to France for consultations for an indefinite period of time.

Among the other issues discussed during the meeting was the ongoing government crackdown on protesters in the neighboring country of Syria.

Turkey announced a series of sanctions against the Syrian regime in November due to its military crackdown on an eight-month-long uprising. It said the measures target the Syrian administration and will not harm the Syrian people.

The council also discussed recent military operations against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which have been regarded as successful by many security experts.

The number of PKK militants who have surrendered or were captured alive has increased in the past few months. Dozens of militants who refused to surrender were killed in November and December. Turkish losses were minimal in these encounters.

Cihan