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Turkey, Switzerland In Fresh Row Over Armenian Genocide

(AFP) – Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul on Monday lashed out at Switzerland for briefly detaining a Turkish politician who said that massacres of Armenians during World War I did not amount to genocide.

“This treatment of the chairman of a Turkish political party is unacceptable,” Gul said in an interview with the large circulation daily Hurriyet, published Monday. “Does this suit a country like Switzerland, which says it upholds contemporary values? We were very saddened.”

Dogu Perincek, leader of the small left-wing Workers’ Party, was questioned for more than three hours Saturday in the Swiss town of Winterthur, where he was taking part in activities marking the 82nd anniversary of the Lausanne Treaty, the founding accord of modern-day Turkey.

Winterthur police spokesman Werner Benz said Saturday that Perincek was questioned for saying “The Armenian genocide is an international lie,” a remark deemed racist under Swiss law, the Anatolia news agency reported. “This assertion contravenes anti-racism norms and constitutes a crime under Swiss law,” a Zurich police official said Sunday.

Perincek already faces a complaint lodged in mid-July by the Swiss-Armenian Association following a speech he gave in May, when he said no genocide of Armenians ever took place.

Two months ago, the Turkish press reported that judicial authorities in Winterthur had also launched an investigation against the head of the Turkish History Foundation, Yusuf Halacoglu, for rejecting at a conference there last year claims that Armenians were the victims of genocide by Turks.

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