Turkish attempts to enforce harpocracy in the French parliament earlier this week are nothing but another instance in the series of systematic fustigations aimed at the freedom of speech. The nisus to terrorise NATO by vetoing the choice of Anders Fogh Rasmussen as the Secretary General of NATO in 2009 as a reply to Denmark’s refusal to silence their free press (ex re the publication of cartoons in a Danish newspaper in 2005 depicting the Prophet Muhammad and the mere existence of a TV station which broadcasts for Kurds from Danish territory) has been merely the first episode in Turkish crusade against the values of democracy and the Western culture. Now certain of its economic power Turkey is trying to sabotage France into silence and a state of historical servitude.
On Thursday the lower assembly of the French parliament voted to back a bill making it illegal to deny any act of genocide recognised as such by the French state, which includes the genocide of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire in 1915, in what is now eastern Turkey. Hundreds of thousands (some estimations speak of 1.5 million) of Armenian people have been murdered in 1915 and 1916 by the Ottoman Empire. Despite it being politically involute over 20 countries have formally recognised these killings as an act of genocide. And every other country knows it has been a genocide despite not having recognised it legally. International affairs seem to be taking precedence over principles even in countries such as the United States. President Barack Obama celebrated the 96th anniversary of the massacre of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire by asking Ankara for the plenary recognition of the killings, but he did nonetheless fail to qualify them as genocide, even after he’d recommended to use this term during his election campaign in 2008.
Turkish assay to bring about a subreption of history is carried through in an unprecedented and shameful way. Turkish penal code actually forbids anyone insulting Turkey or mentioning the Armenian genocide. Turkish Prime minister on the 17th of March 2010, on the BBC, threatened to expel 100,000 Armenians if democratic groups mention the Armenian genocide. This week, after the bill had been passed by the lower part of the parliament in France, the Turkish ambassador in Paris – Tahsin Burcuoglu – has been recalled and Turkey now attempts to change the internal law in France by installing economic and quasi-military sanctions, effectively trying to dictate Paris what French internal law ought to be. Ironically, at the same time the Turks accuse the French of the labefaction of free speech. This is obviously absurd, making sure dreadful crimes are not covered behind fetid ideologies is not undermining free speech, it is the prerequisite of free speech in modern Europe.
On Friday, December 23rd, during a press conference in Istanbul, the Turkish prime minister has accused France of having committed a genocide in Algeria. “An estimated 15 per cent of the Algerian population was massacred by the French starting from 1945. This is a genocide,” he said. Be this as it may, it is also missing the point in extenso. There is no argument over who has massacred more people in Europe. There is however an issue of principles in treating history as well as moral and legal independence of countries in Europe. Just as no country in Europe should have to put up, as Denmark had to, with Turkey trying to silence free press on their territories, also no country in Europe should have to consult Ankara on the structure of their internal law or their standpoint on the history of the continent.
Yet Turkey seems to be getting away with all of this in a surprisingly smooth manner. European Union is already very lenient towards Turkey. It is the case that Turkish troops occupy one-third of the territory of an EU member – Cyprus. That should be enough to be at war with Turkey, yet all one hears is the question of whether Turkey will be allowed to join the European Union in the near future. And indeed some cycles, such as The Economist, are calling for this inclusion at the earliest convenience. This is a disgrace and it offends any European keen on principles of solidarity and freedom.
It’s one thing to be denying your own citizens the freedom of speech and free inquiry (as nasty as it is), it is another thing altogether to be trying to insist on taking these liberties from another peoples. Next April the Armenians should be able to commemorate the bloody campaign of 1915 in a world that doesn’t succumb to squalid bullying and abominable falsifications of history. All European countries should adopt an act similar to the French one, or one which would be more strict in mentioning the Turkish massacre specifically, in solidarity with French freedom of lawmaking and stand up and against Turkish pseudo-imperial impulses. Turkey is of course free to further pursuit their revolting policies, but let them pay the consequences and let them know that the rest of the world can’t be bought or intimidated into their version of freedom.