Justice minister calls for apology from Turkish novelist accused of insulting nation AP Worldstream; Jan 06, 2006 SELCAN HACAOGLU Turkey's justice minister on Friday called on novelist Orhan Pamuk to apologize to the nation for remarks that landed him in court, and said he would decide whether to drop charges against the writer before a Feb. 7 hearing. European officials have demanded that Turkey drop the case against Pamuk and do more to protect freedom of _expression. Justice Minister Cemil Cicek, who has the final say in whether to proceed with the trial, urged the author to apologize to the Turkish people for his remarks. "I would do it, I would say 'I am sorry,'" Cicek said during a live interview on private NTV television. "I wish he would." Cicek said speeding up Pamuk's trial would amount to unfair "VIP treatment." Using a new law that makes it a crime to insult Turkey, authorities charged Pamuk after a Swiss newspaper quoted him as saying: "30,000 Kurds and 1 million Armenians were killed in these lands, and nobody but me dares to talk about it." Pamuk's remarks referred to two of the most painful episodes in recent Turkish history: the massacre of Armenians during World War I, which Turkey insists was not a planned genocide, and recent guerrilla fighting in Turkey's overwhelmingly Kurdish southeast. Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul acknowledged the case had tarnished the country's image abroad and said that laws limiting freedom of _expression could be changed. Cicek criticized Pamuk for not making timely conciliatory remarks, hinting that such a move would have prevented his trial. "Why didn't he come out and say: 'I never said such a thing'" Cicek asked. "He should have said: 'I apologize to my nation.'" The trial was halted by a judge on Dec. 16, the day it began, to wait for the consent of the Justice Ministry.