By Edmond Y. Azadian
As we enter the New Year, Armenia faces yet another diplomatic challenge, again the result of its size and the alliances it has chosen. Although on the surface they don’t appear to be the case, indeed those two, as well as the deep and generous pockets of its foes, are the root causes of those challenges.
Last year, Armenia suffered a setback in Europe when the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg issued a decision in the case of Dogu Perinçek, which in essence sided with the Genocide denier in a case that pitted him against the Swiss government. Switzerland has adopted a law which makes the denial of the Armenian Genocide a crime. Perinçek, a Turkish citizen, in lectures denied the Genocide repeatedly.
While in its final verdict the court said that there is no doubt whatsoever regarding the fate that befell the Armenians, all legal terminologies and maneuvers were rehashed in the verdict to state one more time that any one in Europe can deny the Armenian Genocide and seek shelter under the banner of freedom of speech, while denying the Jewish Holocaust is instead treated as inciting hate.
That decision would certainly have its impact on Swiss law and produce dire consequences elsewhere. A case in point is a recent French High Court verdict. A math teacher had been fired and convicted in Paris for challenging the Holocaust denial law, arguing that the law unfairly punishes only those disputing or denying the Jewish Holocaust, but no other crimes against humanity. The constitutional court upheld the law on January 10, singling out Holocaust denial as a crime, saying that the World War II genocide is of a “different nature” than other crimes against humanity. This ruling is taking place in a country whose president, Francois Hollande, had pledged his support to ironclad language in a law criminalizing the denial of the Armenian Genocide.
Pundits who had tried to minimize — and even misinterpret — the European Court’s verdict in the Perinçek case, will realize that it has begun to have a negative domino effect in Europe.