Sarkozy Says ‘Tseghaspanutiun,’ A Word Obama has yet to Utter

Harut Sassounian

Flying to Armenia, French President Nicolas Sarkozy confided to his top aides last week: “I am going to toss a live grenade!” He was revealing his readiness to act firmly if Turkey continued to deny the Armenian Genocide.
Shortly after arriving in Yerevan, Pres. Sarkozy courageously declared before journalists assembled at the Armenian Genocide Monument: “The Armenian Genocide is a historic reality that was recognized by France. Collective denial is even worse than individual denial.” When asked if France would adopt a law to prosecute those who deny the Genocide, the French President stated: “If Turkey revisited its history, faced its bright and dark sides, this recognition of the Genocide would be sufficient. But if Turkey will not do that, then without a doubt it would be necessary to go further.”
As presidential candidate in 2007, Sarkozy promised to support the Senate’s adoption of a law criminalizing denial of the Armenian Genocide. The French Parliament had already approved such a bill in 2006. Yet, despite his pledge, Pres. Sarkozy’s ruling party blocked the bill’s adoption last May. While the French government banned denial of the Holocaust in 1990, it did not take a similar action on the Armenian Genocide, even though France had recognized it in 2001.
French-Armenians were incensed by Sarkozy’s betrayal. Singer Charles Aznavour publicly warned him that he would lose the support of 500,000 French-Armenians in next year’s presidential elections. Last month, the ARF of France endorsed the probable presidential candidacy of Socialist Francois Hollande after he promised that his party, which had recently gained majority of seats in the Senate, would vote for the bill banning denial of the Armenian Genocide. Hollande is currently far ahead of Sarkozy in opinion polls.
During his visit to Armenia last week, Pres. Sarkozy conveyed several important messages: He reassured Armenians of his intent to keep his initial pledge on the Genocide denial bill; warned Turkey to stop denying the Armenian Genocide; and indicated his clear sympathy for the Armenian position on Artsakh (Nagorno Karabagh).
The French President’s trip to the three Republics of the Caucasus was clearly lopsided in favor of Armenia — where he stayed overnight, while spending only three hours in Azerbaijan and Georgia. His brief stops in these two countries were simply an attempt to display a semblance of impartiality. Sarkozy’s first ever visit to Armenia was filled with festive events and dramatic gestures of friendship — planting a tree in memory of Armenian Genocide victims; laying a wreath at the Genocide Memorial, where he wrote in the Book of Remembrance — “France does not forget;” warning Turkey to acknowledge the Genocide by the year’s end; uttering the Armenian word “Tseghaspanutiun” (genocide) which Pres. Obama has declined to use; lighting a candle in Etchmiadzin; rejecting Turkey’s membership in the European Union; opening the Aznavour Museum overlooking Mt. Ararat; and donating a priceless Rodin statue to the Republic of Armenia.

Finally, a world leader has dared to put Turkey’s bullying rulers in their place! Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu reacted angrily by telling the French President to confront his country’s colonial past and not to teach Turkey a history lesson. Azerbaijan’s President, Ilham Aliyev, gave a cold shoulder to the French leader during his visit to Baku. An aide to Aliyev declared that his country does not share Sarkozy’s views on the Armenian Genocide. Davutoglu’s condescending words against France could well incite the French Senate into adopting the new Genocide law.
French Armenians are now in a win-win situation. Both leading presidential candidates are committed to supporting not only the law criminalizing denial of the Armenian Genocide, but also backing other pro-Armenian initiatives. No matter which one of the two candidates wins in next year’s French presidential elections, Armenians stand to gain!
However, given politicians’ long trail of broken promises, French-Armenians should not trust their word. They should make it clear to both candidates that Armenians would support whoever helps pass the genocide denial bill BEFORE next April’s presidential elections. It would be ideal if both candidates instructed their party’s Senators to vote for the bill now, leaving the French Armenian community with the pleasant dilemma of choosing between two supportive candidates in the presidential elections.
French-Armenians and American-Armenians may want to reverse the long-established but failed approach of supporting candidates first by trusting their promises, hoping that they would come through after the election. The new strategy should be: Once the President is elected and carries out his promises, only then the community would reward him with its support.

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  1. bayrakiniyakan said:


  2. Arman said:

    Obama is a politician, he will promise Armenians things just to take their votes, and then in the White House he has to face the Turkish Erdogan or Gul….he therefore has to pander to both sides and cleverly maneuver himself out of the tight spot he is in. As a person in power, he is between the hammer and the anvil. He has to make promises to many factions or groups, yet he can’t possibly live up to all those promises….therefore the struggle becomes something like a totem pole hierarchy, the Turkish State has more value in Obama’s eyes than Armenian votes. No hope, no change, just simple corruption and dirty politics.

  3. HAYASER said:

    My congratulations and admiration to Harut Sassounian for this objective and realistic analysis of the French politicians attitude in regard the French bill.

    With a little bit more detail, on the same subject I would like to add:

    It is absolutely necessary that the Armenian Nation respond with a unanimous voice and vigorously to Francois Holland by saying “we do not believe in your promise, the only way you can convince us of your sincerity is for you to do the simplest thing by coming forward and agreeing with President Sarkozy (since both of you are in favor of such a bill) and have the bill pass now, thus both of you taking credit for the just action, instead of bringing the excuses of the elections and the lack of time and instead of saying “I will bring it up once elected”, both the Socialist and Conservative parties joined have an overwhelming
    majority in Parliament and Congress”.

    The purpose of the above response to Francois Hollande, by the Armenian Nation, is to unveil the hypocrisy of both Holland and Sakozy; if Holland is sincere and takes the cause really at heart he can do it now as above explained, otherwise we all know politicians’ future promises never materialize; as for Sarkozy, when he embarked on pushing this bill, he knew very well that he would be stopped by the Constitutional Council (being the President he couldn’t be so naive and ignorant not to know the constitutional procedure and above all not to know the individual leanings of the Constitutional Council’s members (how many of them are on the Turkish payroll and how many are eager to preserve the uniqueness of the Jewish genocide).

    They can kid but themselves. Ha ha…!!