Commentary: Long Live France And All the Armenian People!

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By Baidzig Kalayjian

This extremely emotional appeal was uttered publicly by French President Nicolas Sarkozy during a mass public rally of several thousands, which had been organized in connection with his meeting in Yerevan with Armenian president Serge Sargisian. During the rally, Sarkozy stated that if Turkey didn’t take serious steps toward accepting the Armenian Genocide by year’s end, then the French republic would pass a bill, according to which the denial of the Genocide will become criminally punishable throughout France.

Although this statement and Serge Sargisian’s subsequent speech in Marseille, which undoubtedly was the logical continuation of, or concluding tie-in to, Sarkozy’s, were received with popular rejoicing, they didn’t meet with unequivocal reaction, however, in various political circles.

To be sincere…numerous promises had been given, which hadn’t been respected by various states. For that reason, in turn, the concerns of those, who regarded that critical statement by Sarkozy with reservation, were quite understandable.

It was difficult, particularly when the Turkish political elite and the information services catering to them threatened France with the employment of various punitive measures, which also included certain foreign policy spheres, besides the economic, military and tourism realms.

One can immediately say that Sarkozy and the French National Assembly honored their promise right down to the final hour and passed the bill criminalizing the denial of the Armenian Genocide by an overwhelming majority of votes, thus remaining faithful to their high calling. Furthermore, in the process, they gave a most solemn lesson to the leaders of certain states, whose promises fail to materialize.

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Before shouting out loud “Long live Armenia, long live France” with all our hearts, along with the presidents of Armenia and France, on this victorious day, it is naturally not worth touching on the threats made by the Turkish government. However, we owe it to the two of them to reflect not so much on the importance of this historic day, as to once again stress the complete absence of grounds for the foreign policy conducted by the Turkish government.

What was the thrust of their so-called threats? “Turkey’s airspace will be completely closed to France’s air forces;” “Turkey will no longer defend French policy in different international institutions.” Here it was possible to put a period or ellipsis, if the other two announcements hadn’t followed these, which perhaps pertain to numerous other realms, but not at all to policy or sound logic: “Turkey will cease to cooperate with France in the realms of science, fine art and culture.” Can any sober-minded individual explain what threat of cessation of cultural and scientific cooperation is the Turkey of Sultan Hamid, Talaat Pasha or Ataturk making to the fatherland of Rabelais, Balzac and Hugo? It was perhaps possible to end this series of absurd pronouncements if we hadn’t learned of the most shocking one: “Turkey will no longer share with Paris information about Iran, Syria and the Middle East.”

This is the political and moral bankruptcy, the wretchedness of a state that considers itself a leading country in the region.

Meanwhile, what is it that the French wanted? During the discussion on the bill criminalizing the denial of the Armenian Genocide, French National Assembly member Christian Estrosi gave the answer in minute detail: “We shall vote unanimously in favor of the law criminalizing the denial of the Armenian Genocide, because this bill pertains to an exceptional people, for whom France has become an abode during a period of time that was difficult for them. The generation having settled here has transmitted to its new generation the knowledge that the new homeland, France, takes corresponding measures. This bill is not an insult to Turkey; the new millennium must return dignity to the Armenian people. The history of the Armenian people is connected today with our history, and I am proud that I must vote in favor of the passage of that bill.”

Before Estrosi, Bernard Valeria, spokesman for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also attempted to explain to his Turkish colleagues, stating that “Turkey is simply obligated to carry out its international obligations and waiving them is not dependent on the whim of this or that politician.”

Indeed, giving a long and laborious explanation is easy, of course. Understanding it is difficult, especially when the desire doesn’t exist, or the will to seriously appreciate the geopolitical changes is totally absent.

We are facing a fait accompli from now on.

The denial or refutation of the Armenian Genocide throughout the French Republic is already a criminally punishable act. And we think that, on this occasion, it is not at all superfluous as well to repeat the appeal, together with the presidents of the republics of France and Armenia, which rang out months ago in the capital city of Yerevan: “Long live Armenia, long live France!”

Let us echo this slogan and assure our readers that upon occasions presented to us, we shall address those highly-merited individuals one by one, without fail, through whose indefatigable and industrious efforts over many years this slogan was rendered into real work.

Great work.

(Translated by Aris G. Sevag. This editorial appeared in Zartonk daily of Beirut on December 23, 2011.)

 

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