The revenge of law on politics
MAXIME GAUINA few days after the decision of a federal U.S. appeals court to dismiss Armenian claims against German insurers, in the name of the U.S. Constitution, the French Constitutional Council censored the bill criminalizing “denial” of the unsubstantiated “Armenian genocide” claim. The Council argued that such a bill was against freedom of speech. It did not explicitly censor the “recognition” of the “genocide” allegation adopted in 2001, but some of its comments - regarding the field of law - show clearly that this text also is against constitutional principles.
There is no serious hope anymore for a new bill of censorship regarding the Armenian question, and the Council, according to its communiqué, “expressed no opinion about the facts,” i.e., the events of 1915.
Nobody should be surprised. Armenian nationalists were warned several times, by jurists like the former Justice Minister and President of the Constitutional Council (1986-1995) Robert Badinter; by MPs, like the Chairman of the Law Committee in the Senate Jean-Pierre Sueur, who presented in vain a motion of dismissal. Mr. Badinter announced “the revenge of law on politics,” and this is what happened.
The main foreign policy lesson was the deep involvement of Armenian diplomacy in intrigues to obtain the vote of this unconstitutional bill. Mr. Sarkozy promised this vote in Yerevan, not even in a French city with an important Armenian community; Ms. Boyer watched the vote of the Senate in a lobby, together with Armenian diplomats. The main Armenian associations supported the bill, but were relegated to second rank.
What else could be expected from Yerevan? The Armenian authorities deprived the Turkish-Armenian Protocols of their substance after 2009. Armenia invaded Azerbaijan in 1992-1994, and still occupies about 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s territory, cleansed of its Azeri population by bloody means.
Since the 1990s, both the majority and opposition parties of Armenia have widely distributed the theories of G. Nejdeh as an exemplary reference. Nejdeh was a leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, who was also a Nazi, and went from the U.S. to Europe at the beginning of WWII to fight on the eastern front of the Third Reich’s army. Perhaps even more importantly, Armenia is largely dependent on Russia and Iran, two countries that do not want to see a stronger union of Europe and the West, especially in the context of the Syrian crisis. One more time, we see that the Armenian question was used against Western unity, with the complicity of blind Western politicians. I do not say that to advocate any fatalism or, still less, any generalization regarding the Armenians, but merely to show the kind of difficulties and level of the problem which are now encountered.
Another lesson, both for French politics and international relations, is that if there remain some active professionals of strong anti-Turkish bent. There is also an increasing consciousness in France of Turkey’s importance, and exasperation vis-à-vis special ethnic interests which damage national interest and freedom of speech, chiefly nationalist Armenians. Michel Diefenbacher, Chairman of the Franco-Turkish Friendship Group in the National Assembly, who collected the signatures of deputies together with some colleagues, said on Feb. 21: “France and Turkey have a very old relationship, which has been very constructive. When you go to Turkey […] you understand that this relationship is not trivial. So, one cannot accept a degradation of this relationship. All must be done for better understanding.”
It is time to carefully carry out these words, with appropriate permanent structures.
Maxime Gauin is a researcher at the International Strategic Research Organization (USAK-ISRO) and a PhD candidate at the Middle East Technical University Department of History