Turkey should take France's latest bill on Armenian genocide claim to European court
Oct. 12 was a day for rejoicing, a day of national pride at the Nobel Prize for Literature being awarded to Orhan Pamuk, the first Turk to receive that honor, to which I add my own congratulations. In Pamuk's own words, he accepted the prize on behalf of Turkish literature, the Turkish Language and Turkish culture.
Unfortunately, Oct. 12 is also a day which French history will record as a day of infamy in the annals of history in a country that boasts democratic principles. With the passing of a bill stating that it is a crime, punishable by a prison sentence, to deny the claim that an Armenian genocide took place, French socialists have betrayed not only the principles of the French Constitution, which enshrines the freedom of expression and liberty of thought, but also discarded the Descartian foundations of France.
The French socialists made this move as a short-term fix, trying with their narrow-minded cheap vote-mongering during the run up to the approaching elections, to gain the sympathy and support of 170,000 Armenian-origin French voters, along with those of anti-Turkish sentiments vis-à-vis Turkey's entry into the European Union. In the long run, history will show this as a ridiculing of the established image of France as the defender of fundamental liberties.
French socialist parliamentarians took a group decision to support this glaringly anti-constitutional and literally anti-human rights motion that will in effect serve to harm and hurt Armenian interests rather than appeasing the anti-Turkish emotions which the diaspora is trying to keep alive, at the cost of improvement in Turkey-Armenia relations. They do not seem to be aware, despite all the representations made to them by individual Turkish parliamentarians as well as nationally, of the damage they have incurred to their own image as historically the promoters of human liberties and freedoms, nor do they seem to be aware, or care, about the harm they are doing to Turkey-France relations which have a long history of friendship and alliance, going back to the days of Francis I and Süleyman the Magnificent.
As EU Commission President Barroso and EU Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn have already warned, this obnoxious move will greatly poison Turkey's EU negotiations, perhaps irreparably which may have been the original aim of introducing the motion, as we saw confirmed by several French socialist parliamentarians on Thursday on international television. For some time now it has been no secret that Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy is one of the leading opponents of Turkey's EU membership, and is exploiting the Armenian genocide claim as a pretext to block Turkey's EU negotiations by threatening to make recognition of genocide a condition for Turkey's membership, a condition not imposed under the Copenhagen or any other criteria on other EU members. It is now up to the EU Commission membership to be more vocal in criticizing the move and invite the French socialists back to reason from syllogism. If they do not, the Sarkozy move of trying to impose conditions on Turkey in a quid pro quo, will be seen as no less than a tactical political move on behalf of the EU. Erdoğan rejected outright the imposition on Turkey of those three conditions, firstly the removal of Article 301 from the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), which is a domestic problem, secondly the opening of the Armenian border between Turkey and the Armenian Republic, which is none of France's business, but a matter of ongoing negotiation between Turkey and the Armenian Republic, and thirdly to establish an independent commission to research genocide claims, which by excluding any historians will serve merely as a political tool and not serve historical truth.
The French socialists, led by Sarkozy, in initiating this double standards motion, accusing Turkey of not facing its past, while not themselves looking into French history and, for example, Algerian genocide claims about atrocities committed during the Algerian War of Independence, knew well that there were inviting a counter-reaction of reciprocal measures by Turkey.
While some of the threats expressed in the Turkish media during the past week, such as the closing of French schools in Turkey, have been over the top in intensity, in the heat of the moment, and as such regrettable, not serving the interests of Turkey and not representative of Turkish tolerance, the French movers of this bill must have known they would provoke a very strong reaction in Turkey. Turkey-France bilateral trade is said to be around 11 billion euros and will most likely suffer with boycotts and embargos. Turkey-France military procurement is estimated around 14 billion euros. France can not expect to participate in the international nuclear plant bid to be established in Turkey. This move will result in nothing but damage accruing to both sides, no one will win except those who are determined at all costs to try to exclude Turkey from the EU. Both sides, not only one, are shooting themselves in the foot. Two wrongs don't make a right.
It would be interesting to know how the French public think and react. Has any one considered the position of about 70,000 illegal Armenian workers in Turkey whose livelihood may be put in doubt thanks to the actions of the French socialists? For the past half century there have been an estimated 400,000 hard working citizens of Turkish origin living in France, a non militant social group who will be degraded by the nationalist consciousness stemming from the Sarkozy factor and maybe create a counter reaction. Let alone concern for their own future, what would be the financial reaction if these Turkish origin workers and residents of France start to withdraw their savings and close their bank accounts amounting to many billions of euros? As an irony of history French investments in Turkey, like Peugeot and Renault, may fall prey to the far reaching effects of Sarkozy's anti-Turkey initiative, with no more hope for French investments in Turkey, named by the World Bank as a "rising star in Europe."
In addition to EU officials warning the French socialists and Sarkozy that they were playing with fire that may burn personal and communal interests, creating havoc, two prominent Armenian-origin intellectuals as Turkish nationals protested vehemently that this motion will be a disservice to the ongoing behind the scenes dialogue and intended normalization process and cause damage that will be difficult to repair, harming Armenian interests and Armenian intellectuals such as Hrant Dink and Etyen Mahcupyan.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reacted strongly that "this motion does not correspond to the tenets of democracy." With the French government saying it did not support the motion, as a face saver to keep away from the scene of the crime, its abstention in not voting against the bill resulted in its being passed by a minority vote of 106 for to 19 against out of a total of over 500. However, the bill will not become law until it has passed through the Senate and been signed by President Jacques Chirac, a lengthy process that may not be completed before the elections. Even if it does eventually become law it is practically inapplicable to enforceable. Within that time Turkey should take the issue to the European Court of Human Rights citing a breech of the Human Rights Declaration by France in making a denial of the genocide claim punishable by a prison term, and also seeking compensation for debasing Turkey's image internationally. It is also within Turkey's right to propose to the Armenian side that the matter should go to the International Court of Justice in The Hague for an advisory opinion on the claim of "genocide." There are precedents for a state initiating a court case at the European court, such as in 1968 when a group of European countries complained to the court that the Greek Junta colonels were responsible for suspension of democracy in Greece. The second case was against Turkey following the September 12 military coup, made by five European countries, for the same reason, suspension of democracy. Now, it would appear that Turkey has a case against the suspension of free expression against France, either before the bill becomes law, or after, within an estimated span of two years.
The opening of the genocide debate up to questioning will be in Turkey's interest, with the Armenians losing in the process whereby they were previously seen as the aggrieved party, changing places with Turkey now being the aggrieved, unlawfully treated party. When the dust has settled it will be seen that the Armenians have lost by this latest move, and Turkey should resort to presenting a legal case against France under Article 10 of the European Human Rights Convention, based on previous rulings of the court. That should, in my opinion, be its considered and proper response, rather than answering threat by counter threat.
YÜKSEL SÖYLEMEZ, TurkishDailyNews
Source : http://www.turkishdailynews.com.tr/editori...yuksel_soylemez