France holds first ‘Armenia genocide’ remembrance day

ance held its first “national day of commemoration of the Armenian genocide” on Wednesday. (Reuters)
Updated 24 April 2019
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France holds first ‘Armenia genocide’ remembrance day

  • France was the first major European country to recognize the massacres as genocide in 2001
  • Erdogan has accused France of being responsable for the genocide in Rwanda in 1994

PARIS: France held its first “national day of commemoration of the Armenian genocide” on Wednesday, provoking an angry reaction from Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Troops from the Ottoman Empire — which preceded modern-day Turkey — were responsible for massacres and forced deportations of Armenians from 1915, but Turkey has always denied that the killings amounted to genocide.
France was the first major European country to recognize the massacres as genocide in 2001 and Macron announced the national day of remembrance in February this year, saying that his country “knows how to look history in the face.”
That drew a furious response from Erdogan at the time — he called Macron a “political novice” — and the Turkish leader denounced the commemoration day again on Wednesday in a televised speech.
“If we look at those trying to give lessons on human rights or democracy to Turkey on the Armenian question and the fight against terrorism, we see that they all have a bloody past,” he said.
Relations between France and Turkey are tense, particularly due to differences over the future of Syria and the role of Kurdish fighters there, but the two countries are allies in NATO and economic partners.
Erdogan has accused France of being responsable for the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, where the current government accuses Paris of being complicit in the atrocities committed by the majority Hutu community on minority Tutsis.
France has always denied the allegations and Macron announced the creation of a panel of historians and researchers earlier this month which will be tasked with investigating France’s role.
The 41-year-old French leader also announced an annual day of commemoration for the Rwanda genocide in which an estimated 800,000 people are thought to have died.
Armenians commemorate the massacres of their people on April 24 — the day in 1915 when thousands of Armenian intellectuals suspected of harboring nationalist sentiment and being hostile to Ottoman rule were rounded up.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe is to lead the commemorations in France on Wednesday by giving a speech and laying flowers at a Monument for the Armenian Genocide erected on the northern bank of the river Seine in April 2003.
“We should find a way to tell them we are not blaming Turkey for that (the massacres). We are blaming the Turkish government in 1915,” French MP Jacques Marilossian, a member of Macron’s Republic on the Move party, told the France 24 channel.
When World War I broke out in 1914, Armenia — which for most of its history has been occupied by foreign powers — was divided between the Ottoman and Russian Empires.
Armenians say up to 1.5 million of their mostly Christian kin were killed between 1915 and 1917 by Turkish forces, and have long sought international recognition that this was genocide.


Pakistan bracing for austere budget under IMF, finance chief says

Updated 25 May 2019
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Pakistan bracing for austere budget under IMF, finance chief says

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is preparing a belt-tightening budget to tame its fiscal deficit, the de facto finance minister said on Saturday, adding that both civilian and military rulers agreed austerity measures were needed to stabilise the economy.
But Hafeez Shaikh, Prime Minister Imran Khan's top finance adviser, declined to say whether the military's hefty budget would be cut following last week's agreement in principle with the International Monetary Fund for a $6 billion loan.
The IMF has said the primary budget deficit should be trimmed by the equivalent of $5 billion, but previous civilian rulers have rarely dared to trim defence spending for fear of stoking tensions with the military.
Unlike some other civilian leaders in Pakistan's fragile democracy, Khan appears to have good relations with the country's powerful generals.
More than half of state spending currently goes on the military and debt-servicing costs, however, limiting the government's options for reducing expenditure.
"The budget that is coming will have austerity, that means that the government's expenditures will be put at a minimum level," Shaikh told a news conference in the capital Islamabad on Saturday, a few weeks before the budget for the 2019/20 fiscal year ending in June is due to be presented.
"We are all standing together in it whether civilians or our military," said Shaikh, a former finance minister appointed by Khan as part of a wider shake-up of his economic team in the last two months.
In the days since last week's agreement with the IMF, the rupee currency dropped 5% against the dollar and has lost a third of its value in the past year.
Under the IMF's terms, the government is expected to let the rupee fall to help correct an unsustainable current account deficit and cut its debt while trying to expand the tax base in a country where only 1% of people file returns.
Shaikh has been told by the IMF that the primary budget deficit -- excluding interest payments -- should be cut to 0.6% of GDP, implying a $5 billion reduction from the current projection for a deficit of 2.2% of GDP.
The next fiscal year's revenue collection target will be 5.55 trillion rupees ($36.88 billion), Shaikh told the news conference, highlighting the need for tough steps to broaden the tax base.