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The Armenian file 29 février 2012

Posted by Acturca in Caucasus / Caucase, France, History / Histoire, Turkey / Turquie, USA / Etats-Unis.
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Today’s Zaman (Turkey) 29 February 2012, Wednesday

Suat Kınıklıoğlu

This has been a very eventful week for the Armenian file. First was the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit’s invalidation of a law designed to provide special treatment for California Armenians, in Movsesian v. Victoria Versicherung, et al. on Feb. 23, 2012.

The US Federal Court of Appeals has ruled that the descendants of Armenians who died during the events of 1915 could not file lawsuits against insurance companies to receive compensation. The San Francisco Court of Appeals annulled the law adopted in the State of California 11 years ago that authorized descendants of the mentioned Armenians to file lawsuits against insurance companies.

Second, the Khojaly massacre was commemorated in many Turkish cities, most prominently in İstanbul. Unfortunately, the rally in Taksim was so blatantly exploited by some racists that it was heavily overshadowed. I thought the biggest damage was dealt to the memory of the poor victims who died in Khojaly as well as those who funded and organized the rally. Organizing political rallies is no small thing and such rallies always have the potential to be infiltrated by some ill-minded individuals, but we have not heard from those who organized the rally that they regret such racist messages. Nor have we seen an explanation of how the crowd has come to praise an assassin who killed a prominent Armenian journalist not very far from where the rally took place. It could have been a civilized and well-organized rally reminding the world of the pain and suffering endured in Khojaly. Instead, it turned into an event that expressed hatred and racism against our Armenian citizens and thus failed. Cengiz Çandar’s column on this issue in the Radikal daily paints the picture well and warns of the dangers of going down the nationalist route. There seems to be more to this Khojaly commemoration rally and I intend to write about it and Turkish-Azerbaijani relations in the coming weeks.

Third, the French Constitutional Council overturned on Tuesday a controversial bill that criminalizes denial of the events of 1915 as a systematic genocide campaign during the last years of the Ottoman Empire. It was an expected decision and in a peculiar twist President Nicolas Sarkozy’s election maneuver backfired in an unexpected manner. Over and over it has been reiterated that a foreign parliament’s meddling with such a delicate and sensitive historic issue does nothing but rekindle nationalist positions and does not serve for reconciliation between Turks and Armenians. Turks and Armenians will need to find a way to reconcile themselves. The Turkish-Armenian normalization process that started a few years ago was a workable path to that end, but unfortunately it could not be completed. If the news is right and Sarkozy is toying with the idea of reintroducing such legislation, this would precipitate a wide reaction against him in Turkey. That said, we should also remind ourselves of some of the wholesale reactions shown here when the legislation was about to be passed in the French Senate. France is a large nation and the Constitutional Council’s decision has shown that common sense has prevailed there. Showing a reaction to a country such as France also requires some nuances to be recognized. We need to be more careful with such things. Just as the pro-Azerbaijani lobby in Turkey needs to be more careful about not mixing up demonstrating for a legitimate cause and expressing latent racism and xenophobia. Turkey is going through a precarious stage in its normalization and democratization drive. The last thing we need here is another nationalist-racist surge while we are grappling with some very important issues such as the Kurdish issue as well as understanding the historical baggage of 1915. The maturing of our nation and the consolidation of our democracy is very much dependent on the proper resolution of these issues.

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