By Edmond Y. Azadian
Turkey’s Islamist government is once again gripped in a frenzy of anger, this time regarding the vote in the French parliament criminalizing the denial of the Armenian Genocide. Once again, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has resorted to his characteristic vituperation, threatening France with a number of punishing countermeasures.
On the eve of the French parliamentary debate over the Genocide bill, Mr. Erdogan had addressed a personal letter to President Nicolas Sarkozy, cautioning him about the consequences of adopting the Genocide Bill. He indicated particularly the “grave consequences for France in political, economic and cultural relations.” Sarkozy scoffed at the threat and even refused to take a phone call by President Abdullah Gul.
Erdogan’s macho tone has resonance in the domestic political market, and perhaps in some Islamic quarters elsewhere, but in Western countries, it is taken as a deja vu bluff, similar to the threats Turkey hurled at France after the French parliament recognized the Armenian Genocide in 2001.
It is particularly ludicrous for Turkey to threaten France in the realm of culture. One could rightfully ask what kind of culture Turkey can offer to a nation, which has given to the world Corneille, Racine, Descartes, Debussy, Delacroix and other giants of the Enlightenment? Perhaps only Nasreddin Hoja, who has dispensed common sense and practical wisdom to the Turks for many centuries.
And today, one of his anecdotes is a propos to define Turkish attitude in this case.