Sassounian: France Shouldn’t Allow Turkey to Meddle in its Domestic Affairs

For nearly a century, Turkey’s leaders have tried to hide the monstrous crime of the Armenian Genocide by covering up what really took place in the killing fields of the Syrian desert, then part of the Ottoman Empire. The powerful Turkish state has committed its considerable financial and diplomatic resources to the nefarious cause of genocide denial.

Turkish leaders do not seem to realize that as they deny and lie, and vainly proclaim their innocence, they actually help publicize their dastardly act to an incredulous worldwide audience.

Furthermore, even though today’s Turkish officials were not the ones who committed the genocide of 1915, they foolishly associate themselves with their criminal predecessors, thus making themselves accessories after the fact by lying about it and concealing the evidence.

With each passing day, the Turkish leadership is further submerging itself in a mire of its own making. Let’s take a closer look at its sordid behavior in the French government’s decision-making process.

Over 10 years ago, when the French legislature was adopting a law recognizing the Armenian Genocide, the Turkish government used its usual bag of tricks in a failed attempt to undermine that effort. After the French Parliament and Senate recognized the genocide, then-President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Lionel Jospin on Jan. 29, 2001 signed the following law: “France publicly recognizes the Armenian Genocide of 1915.”

Even though the French law had made no mention of Turkey or the Ottoman Empire as perpetrator of the genocide, Turkish officials exhibited a guilty conscience through their exaggerated claims of innocence, hence identifying themselves as the culprits in this heinous crime, while no one was pointing a finger at them.

The long arm of the Turkish state interfered in French domestic affairs once again in 2006, when lawmakers in Paris attempted to establish a penalty for those violating the law passed in 2001, applying the same sanctions to those denying the Holocaust. Regrettably, the French government succumbed to Turkish threats and hysterics and blocked the measure, until the Senate finally approved it on Jan. 23, 2012.

The French public is now facing yet another egregious attempt of foreign interference in their domestic issues. The Turkish Union of Chambers of Commerce and Commodity Exchanges hired a French lobbying firm last week to pressure legislators into filing a legal challenge to the law banning denial of genocides recognized by French law—the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide. So much for Turkish threats to boycott French companies!

Sarkozy has 15 days from Jan. 23 to sign the new law, unless 60 members of the French Parliament and Senate act first by petitioning the Constitutional Court to rule on its legality. The Turkish ambassador, contravening a foreign diplomat’s mandate not to meddle in French domestic matters, has used all possible means of pressure and “inducement” in a desperate attempt to secure the necessary 60 signatures.

The Turkish government may be making a serious mistake by assuming that the court will necessarily find the new law to be unconstitutional. And Turkish officials could be undermining their own interests should the court decide that the law is constitutional, thereby precluding any future legal challenges from Turkish denialists who would be arrested for denying the Armenian Genocide, once the law goes into effect.

In recent days, Turkey’s leaders have made utterly ridiculous statements about the new law. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused France of following “the footsteps of fascism.” How can the leader of a country that is one of the biggest violators of human rights dare to blame France for fascism?

Turkish President Abdullah Gul jumped into the fray by accusing France of “limiting freedom of expression.” Has the Turkish president checked his own country’s jails, where dozens of journalists are languishing for months without trial for simply writing articles critical of the government? Has he read Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code—on “insulting Turkishness”—which bans all public references to the Armenian Genocide?

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu may have gotten it right when he complained that the French law is an attempt to “Nazify Turkey,” except that this is being done not by France but by his own government, which continues to associate itself with the crimes of a long-defunct Ottoman Empire.

The most laughable statement, however, was made by Turkey’s brash Minister of European Affairs Egemen Bagis during his recent visit to Switzerland. He dared Swiss authorities to arrest him for denying the Armenian Genocide, since Switzerland, similar to France, has a law banning genocide denial. Bagis is fortunate that he cannot be arrested or prosecuted because of his diplomatic immunity. Nevertheless, he could and should be expelled from Switzerland as persona non grata.


Harut Sassounian

California Courier Editor
Harut Sassounian is the publisher of The California Courier, a weekly newspaper based in Glendale, Calif. He is the president of the Armenia Artsakh Fund, a non-profit organization that has donated to Armenia and Artsakh $917 million of humanitarian aid, mostly medicines, since 1989 (including its predecessor, the United Armenian Fund). He has been decorated by the presidents of Armenia and Artsakh and the heads of the Armenian Apostolic and Catholic churches. He is also the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.


  1. It will be Sarkozy’s turn to show the middle finger to Turkey who continue to take France as another weak and scared cat by signing this bill into law.. Someone needs to stand against Turkish bullies once and for all and I pray that France will stand firm and now allow TUrkey to rule over her.. By signing this into law, Frace will definintely show Turkey ….

  2. gayane i know you show sympathy to france over thıs bill yet dont forget its all about coming elections sarkozy couldnt care less for armenians the timing of this bill should be a sign for you ;) the bill i belive will not be law as it will serve for good for next and next elections armenians are being used by politicains as a turk i want france to recognize genocide not because i belive it cause simply we will go on with ourlives with one less issue regards :)

  3. Anton, you should check the following link for some important clarification about this law. I think you are mistaken to assume that the bill has much to do with elections:

    basic misunderstandings in discussion of French genocide denial ban | conflict antiquities

    If you have trouble accessing it here, you can find the link at the end of the comments following the interview with Akcam article entitled “Akcam: Genocide Recognition is About Justice, Not Freedom of Thought. Hope you read it.

  4. Dear Anton jan.. I support and will show sympathy to all who will stand with people who are against lies, manipulation and denial.

    Of course I know France has an agenda behind her actions.. of course I know no govt will do such acts out of good will and pure intentions… we are stupid and we all know that.. however, France started the first step and she should finish it if she wants to be known as a country who did not cave into Turkish threats… it is time to discipline TUrkey because she has been acting like a spoiled brat and getting away with murder.. that is unacceptable…

    and one more thing Anton.. if you are a Turk and you want to get on with your life, no one is stopping you… don’t agree to something just to make it go away.. you need to understand and believe in what you are agreeing to.. and GEnocide is not one less issue on your busy minute life to speak like that.. I am sorry but obviously instead of promoting what is just and truth, you seem to want to just get on with your life… very unfortunate…


    • “as a turk i want france to recognize genocide not because i belive it cause simply we will go on with ourlives with one less issue regards ”

      Gayane: he is a Turk, and a Denialist Turk at that. {“as a turk”…..”not because i belive it”}

    • CORRECTION to my statement above..

      “”””””We are not stupid and we all know that”””””…

      We know nothing is done by any govt that comes out of their love of others.. but at least France started the tide and I hope that tide will get higher and higher and when it comes down with the full force, it will show Turkey that she can’t hide the truth by theats and tantrums…

  5. Can you imagine how much influence Turkey will have if she gets real or practical control over any ME oil supplies? Keeping her out of Iraq is paramount.

    Once she controls oil, she will be unstoppable except by war. I bet you that there are serious plans in the Department of Defense to go to war with Turkey if she moves on any oil fields, which she will try to do through the pretext of fighting the Peshmerga.

    If Israel bombs Iran, or if any other state of war comes to the ME, or if Iraq becomes as unstable as she was four years ago without external war, Turkey will seize upon that to seize oil. Guaranteed.

    That means to me that Turkey supports Al Qaeda in the hopes AQ destabilizes the country.

    Once Turkish control of oil is confirmed, they can tell the nations of Europe to wear the fez, and some will.

  6. Jda
    Do you guys really think that Turkey will control the oilfields in Iraq? Turkey will never do that. It is absolutely nonsense however, Turkey has a very good relationship the Kurdish state in the north and huge amount investment there and has moved to deep inside Iraq in order to get more business therefore Turkey doesn’t need their oilfields but needs more business with them. Case closed

    • Oil creates greed and Turkey is indeed greedy… so YES J The Turk.. Turkey needs oilfiends and if had the opportunity will seiz it.. guaranteed..

      Oh your statement of Turkey having good relations with its neighbors was very comical… but hey it is your opinion .. no matter how ridiculeous it is…

    • It is actually Turkey who is deathly afraid of an independent Kurdish region that today controls Kirkuk and its oil fields. They realize that if the Kurds do control the oil, Turkish influence will be gone and a new Kurdish power structure with lots of revenue for military and infrastructure will be created. remember Kurds do not care for Turks and Turkey has warned many times that if something of this nature happens that it will have to invade Iraq…

  7. It will be interesting to see if the other equivalent law that covers the “Holocaust” deniers will be constitutionally challenged as it is illegal to deny the Holocaust in France!

  8. I may be not relevant, but what about the blockade that Turkey exercises upon Armenia since 1993 ? The border is closed. Is that right ? The government does not want to understand that people need to go, and come, write, read, live together, tell the news, if they cannot do that, they are disgusted.
    Mr. Erdogan should think of that before criticising France, where we are free to go anywhere.

    • Louise jan.. that would be too logical and too humane… we can’t expect Turkey to be logical and humane can we? ofcourse not.. that is the most unfortunate factor in all this.. Turkey does not recognize how hypocritical they are and act toward other countries where they have loads of crapola in their own backyard.. until they realize it, acknowledge it, no advancement will occur in that country..sad but true…

      However, thank you for voicing your disagreement how Turkey handles herself.. we are all on the same page with you on that one..

  9. As usual its all about Turks, their feelings, their losses etc. Remember a “Turkish master race” can say anything and do anything as it is its right. That’s their mentality..Their usual motto: “Do as i say not as i do” comes to mind..

    However, more so then the Armenian law, this is a clear indication to Turks that their aspirations to export their poor people and goods freely to Europe ARE DEAD! France is leading the way in making it loud and clear that they don’t want Turks coming freely within their borders..The other problem is that now turning to Arab country’s who would welcome Turks, are themselves poor…The ones with oil wealth do not need the Turks..This is a dilemma for them..

    • “The ones with oil wealth do not need the Turks..”

      I honestly cannot think of one Arab, middle eastern country that does not have plenty of oil. There are countries like Iraq that are poor in spite of oil, but for the most part they are among the richest countries in the world. They’d be even richer without their dictatorships and monarchies. What does do not need Turks even mean? You think all nations view Turkey the same way Armenians, Kurds, and Greeks do? Those who were not under Ottoman rule and did not face great atrocities have no reason whatsoever to dislike Turkey.

    • RVDV- other than Armenians, Greeks and Kurds who you say do not like or need Turks the rest are ok with Turkey?? I beg to differ on this … I have a feeling many countries DO NOT LIKE Turkey… just because of their high level of intolerance toward all other races, their reputation of being the WORST HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATORS and the history of being a bully… so I can assure you just because they do not voice their dislike it does not mean others don’t have issues with current day Turkey…

    • Really Gayane? The WORST human rights violators? Worse than Iran? Worse than Syria? Worse than oh say half the countries in Africa? Worse than North Korea? The Turkish government has a lot of human rights violations and does oppress minorities no doubt, but let’s keep things in perspective. And really… Why would someone from, say Brazil or New Zealand, have any reason to dislike Turkey, or Armenia, or Azerbaijan?

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