Egemen Bagis: Turkey’s Minister of Genocide Denial

Harut Sassounian


Even though all Turkish government officials routinely deny the Armenian Genocide, one particular minister has turned denial into a full-time job. Ironically, as Minister for European Union Affairs, Egemen Bagis has harmed Turkey’s prospects for EU membership more than any of its critics!

Although Bagis has been making zany statements ever since his ministerial appointment two years ago his recent blunder in Zurich made headlines around the world. The Turkish Minister arrogantly dared Swiss authorities to arrest him after boasting that “the events of 1915 were not genocide!” Switzerland has a law that penalizes genocide denial, similar to the law now pending in France. A Swiss prosecutor is investigating Bagis’s words and his diplomatic status to see if charges could be filed against him for genocide denial.

Of course, it does not take much courage to hide behind the cover of diplomatic immunity and make Don Quixotic statements, challenging the laws of other countries. If Minister Bagis were truly a macho man, he would waive his immunity, go to Switzerland, and publicly deny the Armenian Genocide. However, it appears that the feisty Minister has chickened out! After boasting that he would gladly return to Switzerland to deny the Armenian Genocide again, he facetiously declared that he would not go to Switzerland, since he has no money in Swiss banks! The real reason for the Minister’s abrupt change of heart is his fear of getting arrested should the Swiss prosecutor rule that his diplomatic immunity does not protect him from the crime of genocide denial.

How much longer can Prime Minister Erdogan tolerate Mr. Bagis’s clownish antics that make Turkey look like a rogue state in the eyes of the world? Admiring his fluency in English, the Prime Minister had offered this 41-year-old former New York college student a top ministerial post, not realizing what a liability his loose tongue would prove to be!

Just as President George W. Bush’s nonsensical statements became known as “Bushisms,” the world now has a rich collection of “Bagisisms!” Here is a sampling of his preposterous remarks:

— “What happened in 1915 can’t be classified as genocide as far as I’m concerned, but I was not around in 1915!”

— “I’m a politician. My job is to determine the future, not the past!”

— “In recent years, every one has seen that more Europeans are moving to Turkey than vice versa.”

— During a recent conference in Qatar, Minister Bagis became the laughing stock of the audience, when he proudly announced that “Europe” is a Turkish word! The Greek Ambassador to Qatar angrily responded: “Europa was one of the lovers of Zeus in Greek mythology, everyone knows that!”

— Minister Bagis does not seem to realize that he is contradicting himself by asking other countries to open their archives to see if there was an Armenian genocide, while concluding that there was no genocide! The least he could do is have the decency to keep his mouth shut until the Ottoman archives are fully open. Meanwhile, the archives of other countries have been open for decades.

— Rattling off the witty Americanisms he picked up in the streets of New York, such as “a day late and a dollar short,” Bagis told Euronews: “This is execution without trial. Calling the 1915 events a genocide based solely on information we have right now comes from a lobby that nurtures malicious hatred.”

— “Germany was a strong ally of the Armenians in 1915, so the Germans should open their archives and give documents to historians for examination,” Bagis told EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule, according to Hurriyet newspaper. Bagis made two factual errors in one sentence: Germany was the ally of the Ottoman Empire, not Armenians; and the German archives have been open for years!

— “There’s no force that could bring about the arrest of any Turkish Minister,” Bagis bragged to journalists. Why is he then afraid to waive his diplomatic immunity and then deny the Armenian Genocide in Switzerland?

— Bagis keeps on repeating the falsehood that the Armenian government “did not have the courage to respond to Prime Minister Erdogan’s letter requesting the formation of a commission of historians to study the Armenian Genocide.” In fact, the then president Kocharian did answer, suggesting that all outstanding issues between the two countries be resolved in the larger context of government to government relations. It was the Turkish Prime Minister that did not respond to Armenia’s President.

While Minister Bagis has diplomatic immunity, the rest of Turkey’s population does not enjoy such a privilege. It may be a good idea to accord immunity to all 72 million Turks in order to shield them from prosecution, when they utter the words “Armenian Genocide” in Turkey!

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  1. facts said:

    Turkish government (this includes the well known Turkish hidden “state within state” – now ‎mostly replaced by friends close to Erdogan/AKP) are looking jointly with racists in Baku ‎for every opportunity to publish anti Armenian news (for experts not paper worth written on ‎it)- All this anti Armenian activities being planed orchestrated by a Turkish-Azerbaijani task ‎force . Yesterday, Ankara and and Turk-Azerbaijani were making noise about Armenian A ‎power plant , now Turkish media are making noise about Khojali – Apparently Erdogan´s ‎Todayszaman (read ZAMAN other way, zaman = namaz ) being assigned a special roll …‎

  2. Basli said:

    “How much longer can Prime Minister Erdogan tolerate Mr. Bagis’s clownish antics that make Turkey look like a rogue state in the eyes of the world?”
    – He won’t be able realize that those antics are clownish, since they are very similiar to his own, which he does not perceive as clownish.

    Erdogan has made some pretty dumb statements as well, may I remind you of “Muslims can’t commit genocide” and “assimilation is a crime against humanity” (which in fact would make the whole state of Turkey a crime against humanity, but self-reflection has never been a strengh of Erdogan and Co).

  3. Ararat said:

    The Turkish EU Minister is a gutless coward hiding behind his diplomatic immunity making such bold statements knowing he can get away with it. He must be the latest clown to join Turkey’s three stooges, Erdogan, Davutoglu and Gul, to deny historical facts. They are all bunch of two-faced hypocrites lecturing France and others on freedom of expression, freedom to deny in actuality, while they themselves create ad-hoc laws, such as the Article 301 of the Turkish Criminal Code, to intimidate and punish anyone who deviates from their anti-Armenian agenda. This law facilitated the murder of the Armenian journalist Hrant Dink and caused the imprisonment and self-exile of many of its intellectuals who tried to openly speak about the Armenian Genocide.

    Dogs bark the loudest in their safe backyards. Let the Turkish EU Minister Bagis, with or without diplomatic immunity, come to any Armenian community outside of Turkey and make the same statement and we will see how long his courage will last.

  4. Alex Postallian said:


    • txamard said:

      It’s NOT history, Turkey and Azerbaijan are still trying to wipe us off the map. And they threaten us with a continuation of the genocide. Openly! You Jews, however, must stop denying, belittling and making fun of the Armenian genocide. Can you feel me?

  5. Theamerican said:

    Mark Sinclair said: “Get over it, its history.”
    Tell me Mr. Sinclair : “How bright will be our future if we do not learn from our past?”
    You seem to be a disaster recipe for your children, grandchildren and the future of this world.
    I hope you put your mind in gear before you put your mouth into motion