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BURAK BEKDİL

burak.bekdil@hurriyet.com.tr

BURAK BEKDİL > The new Turkish jurisprudence on the Armenian genocide – now sealed!

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Last December, this column announced the emergence of a new Turkish jurisprudence on the Armenian genocide. Half a year later, the new jurisprudence won an official seal of approval from the offices of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.

The new jurisprudence, in plain coffeehouse patron’s language, is a powerful Turkish warning to the rest of the world precisely as I wrote it in December: “‘Dear members of parliaments of the world! From now on, you can recognize the Armenian genocide and have perfectly normal relations with us; but we’ll get badly offended if you make genocide denial illegal.’ Will the U.S. Congress get the message? The Turks should hope it won’t. Sadly, the more than 20 countries in the world whose parliaments have recognized the Armenian genocide stand like an unpleasant reminder that the soft power Mr. Davutoğlu loves to assume Turkey possesses does not exist in the real world,” (The new Turkish jurisprudence on Armenian genocide, HDN, Dec. 23, 2011).

How did I know / how do I know? Simple. When did the French legislature recognize the Armenian genocide? In 2001. What did Turkey do in response? It threatened to freeze all economic and political ties with France. How did the freeze go? Well, during the Turkish boycott/freeze, the two-way trade volume rose from $4 billion in 2001 to nearly $15 billion in 2011, an increase of 275 percent! That’s how Threat 1 was fulfilled.

From December 2011 through to February 2012 Turkey threatened once again to freeze all economic, military and political ties with France. But was it not strange that the Turks were pledging to freeze something they had pledged to freeze a decade ago?

Under Threat 2, somehow, we would freeze “all cooperation with the French government and joint projects, introduce punishing restrictions on French military vessels and aircraft passing through Turkish waters and airspace or docking on Turkish soil.” That would be the appropriate response because the French bill that criminalized genocide denial, according to Mr. Davutoğlu, “dishonored our country and nation.”

Fortunately, the French supreme court overturned the denial bill and thus our country and nation was not dishonored. And this must be Jurisprudence 2: We no longer think that our country and nation would be dishonored when foreign parliaments declare our ancestors as committers of genocide. And that... How do we know?

Because last week Mr. Davutoğlu happily announced, under instructions from Mr. Erdoğan, that Turkey and France would now live happily ever after... With all Turkish sanctions under Threat 2 now officially dropped, everything will come up roses. C’est magnifique! And that miracle happened just because François Hollande, France’s new president, met with Mr. Erdoğan – not because either Monsieur Holland, who has never hidden his firm commitment to the idea that there was an Armenian genocide, or the French Parliament no longer believes the tragic incidents of 1915-1919 amounted to genocide.
From now on, if either Mr. Erdoğan or Mr. Davutoğlu claims that it would dishonor our country and nation if a foreign Parliament were to recognize the Armenian genocide, the members of that Parliament may just suffer perpetual hysterias of laughter before they say b...u...t... F...r...a...n...c...e!
But the Rover with Rolls Royce ambitions and the Crescent and Star emblem will surely be speeding along down international highways. The future, though, may bring in further Turkish jurisprudence on Armenian genocide.

For instance, Jurisprudence 3 may be about accepting genocide denial laws but threatening to freeze economic, political and military relations if they are enforced; and Jurisprudence 4 may be about accepting a reasonable number of people sentenced under denial laws but threatening to freeze economic, political and military relations if too many people are sentenced.

Bonne chance, Mssrs. Erdoğan et Davutoğlu!

June/29/2012

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