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Pardon, what law?: Armenians disappointed over Hollande’s behavior in genocide criminalization

Pardon, what law?: Armenians disappointed over Hollande’s behavior in genocide criminalization
Photo: Ministère des Affaires étrangères/Cyril Bailleul - Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius met and held a joint press conference in Paris on Thursday.
Photo: Ministère des Affaires étrangères/Cyril Bailleul - Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius met and held a joint press conference in Paris on Thursday.

Armenians are not so much disappointed by the fact that the French president, Francois Hollande, seems to be reneging on his pledge as the fact that the probable alliance between France and Turkey will come at the expense of Armenian interests.

At a joint press conference with his French counterpart in Paris on July 5, Turkish Foreign Ministers Ahmet Davutoglu said that all sanctions imposed by Turkey against France in the wake of the law penalizing the denial of the Armenian genocide adopted in Paris had been revoked. In his turn, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said: “Regarding the events of 1915, we will not show the position that was held by the administration of former president Nicolas Sarkozy.” Davutoglu was also quoted as saying that “if France wishes to contribute to the resolution of the Armenian problem” Turkey was ready to work together.

The law criminalizing the denial of the Armenian Genocide in Ottoman Turkey in 1915 was adopted in the French Parliament on January 23, but then was rejected by the Constitutional Council of France as unconstitutional. Turkey then imposed economic sanctions against France. After Hollande’s victory in the presidential ballot in May a process of normalization between Paris and Ankara began. Perhaps, during the period of the Socialist Party being in government France will contribute to the negotiations on Turkey’s accession to the European Union, one of the conditions of which for Turkey is the opening of borders with neighbors.

French-Armenian Grigor Amirzayan writes in an article published in Nouvelles d`Arménie: “The citizens of France of Armenian origin in the very rapid rapprochement between Ankara and Paris have seen that things can change dramatically within a few months. The realpolitik based on economic and strategic interests could take precedence over values like human rights, justice and involvement. U.S. President Barack Obama has already delivered a blow against us by cheating. Francois Hollande is ready to overtake him, even beat him in that…”

On Saturday, Hollande reportedly assured the Armenian community of France that he stood by his promise and planned a new law to punish denial that the Ottoman-era mass killing of Armenians was genocide. According to the BBC, Hollande’s office said: “The president expressed his commitments during the campaign. He will keep them. We must find a path, a road that allows for a text that is consistent with the constitution.”

Despite the mostly unofficial statements made on behalf of Hollande (including his reported phone conversation with the co-chairman Coordinating Council of Armenian Organisations of France), some continue to believe the Armenian genocide criminalization bill in France has been shelved for long, and, which seems even more dangerous, France, as a country co-heading the OSCE Minsk Group, can speed up a solution to the Karabakh conflict that would be more favorable to Turkey and Azerbaijan. Turkey insists on the withdrawal of Armenian forces from at least some of the territories near Karabakh in exchange for opening its border with Armenia.

On July 6, Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu once again linked normalization with Yerevan with the Armenian withdrawal from “Azerbaijani lands”. “Only after that will the Turkish-Armenian border be opened and economic cooperation that will enliven the Armenian economy will be established,” said Davutoglu.

And if France, as one of the international mediators in the Karabakh settlement, insists on the withdrawal of Armenian troops from the territories around Karabakh, if they are withdrawn, Turkey will open its border with Armenia and thus meet one of the conditions for entering the EU. But experts wonder what France will get from Turkey in return.

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