Yaşar Yakış
Mar 11 2019

Macron tries to please Armenians, angers Turks

French President Emmanuel Macron announced on Jan. 5 that April 24 would become an annual national day of commemoration of the so-called Armenian genocide. 

This is the anniversary of painful events that took place in 1915 in Ottoman Turkey. Ethnic Armenian citizens of the Ottoman Empire cooperated in the World War One with the Russian army that was invading Ottoman territories. Gangs of Armenian terrorists attacked villages inhabited by Turks, locked civilians in mosques and burned them alive. They cut telegraph lines behind the Ottoman army to prevent its communications with headquarters, raided ammunition stores, stole weapons and ammunition and gave them to the Russian army. 

The Ottomans resorted to a solution that was not much different from what the United States did in 1941 after the Japanese attack on the U.S. base at Pearl Harbor. Some 117,000 U.S. citizens of Japanese descent were relocated to North Dakota, Montana and New Mexico and kept there until the end of the World War Two. 

The Ottomans, for their part, relocated the Armenians to provinces where they would not be able to harm the national defence. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians perished during this relocation. The Ottomans did not of course have in 1915 the means that the United States had in 1941, so the Armenians suffered much more than the Japanese Americans.

Turkey understands the trauma that the Armenian nation went through because of this relocation, but it does not believe these events can be characterised as genocide. The 1948 UN Convention on Genocide describes an act as genocide only when it is committed “with the intent to destroy a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”. The Ottoman intention was none of these. Theirs was to prevent Armenians threatening the survival of the country.

Turkey recently proposed setting up a joint committee of historians with Armenia and letting them find out what exactly took place in 1915. In 2015, Turkey’s then-prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said that if the committee was led to the conclusion that Turkey had to apologise, it would do so, but if the committee concluded that Armenia also had to apologise, it had to apologise as well. Armenia refused this proposal.

Members of the Armenian terrorist gang ASALA (Armée Secrète Arménienne de la Libération de l’Arménie) killed 42 Turkish diplomats in various capitals between 1975 and 1987.

France is first among countries where Armenians are very active. The lower chamber of the French parliament passed a law in 2006 to criminalise the denial of the Armenian genocide, but the law was rejected by the upper chamber. Another law to the same effect was submitted to parliament in 2012. This time, the French Constitutional Council disappointed Armenians by overturning the law.

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Ahval

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Ahval.

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