96 Years Later, Turkey Still Pays A Price for Genocide Denial

Harut Sassounian


Almost a century after the fact, the Republic of Turkey continues to be disgraced for its persistent denial of the Armenian Genocide.
During his visit to Armenia earlier this month, French President Nicolas Sarkozy condemned Turkey by declaring that 96 years is long enough for Ankara to come to terms with its genocidal crimes. He also threatened to pass a law punishing denial of the Armenian Genocide, unless Turkey recognized it in the near future.
Rather than heeding Pres. Sarkozy’s sound advice, Turkish leaders retaliated by attacking him and insulting his country. Here are some of their rejectionist statements:
Prime Minister Erdogan: “He should first listen to his own advice. He is different in France, different in Armenia, and more different in Turkey. There cannot be a political leader with so many faces. Politics requires honesty…. You should know that Turkey is not an easy bite to swallow.”
Foreign Minister Davutoglu: “France should confront its own history. I consider such remarks as political opportunism.”

Turkey’s European Union Minister Egemen Bagis: “If Sarkozy worked on how his country could come out of economic turbulence instead of assuming the role of a historian, it would be more meaningful for France and Europe.”

Devlet Bahceli, leader of the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP): The French President is a “rude and ill-mannered” man. “Our advice to Sarkozy is that if he wants to see an example of genocide, he should look back at his history. He will clearly see the atrocities committed in Algeria and will notice explicit or implicit massacres in North Africa.”
The Turkish attacks on France included demonstrations in front of the French Consulate in Istanbul last week, where protesters carried portraits of Pres. Sarkozy with Adolph Hitler’s mustache and denounced alleged crimes committed by France in the Algerian war.
Uncharacteristically, Turkish officials did not go beyond mere words to denounce Pres. Sarkozy’s statements on the Armenian Genocide. Missing were the customary recall of the Turkish Ambassador and threats to boycott French goods. There was no bite in their bark!
The French President was unfazed by the Turkish outbursts. Upon returning to Paris, he sent a letter to Pres. Serzh Sargsyan reconfirming his earlier statements in Armenia: “Rest assured that France will not cease its commitment, as long as the massacres have not been properly recognized by the descendents of the perpetrators.” Pres. Sarkozy went on to state that he was “most of all deeply moved at the Genocide Memorial Monument while paying tribute to the memory of the victims of the death sentence carried out against your people on April 24, 1915.” When the French President learned of the angry Turkish reaction to his statements in Yerevan, he told his aides that he had no regrets: “The Turks have always hated me, so it’s no problem.”
Some French Parliamentarians were incensed, however, upon hearing that Prime Minister Erdogan had accused Pres. Sarkozy of being two-faced. They greeted the Turkish leader’s insulting words with loud and derisive exclamations in the French Parliament.
Former Ambassador Omer Engin Lutem expressed his concern that if France were to ban denial of the Armenian Genocide, it would trigger other European countries to follow suit. He cautioned the Turkish public that such a development on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide would constitute a significant victory for Armenians.
Murat Belge, an outspoken Turkish human rights activist, took issue with the negative reaction of his country’s leaders. He boldly condemned all those who claimed that “Turks are good people; we do not kill or commit genocide.” Such statements are “slanderous,” Belge stated.
Another prominent scholar and columnist, Ahmet Insel, rebuked Prime Minister Erdogan for telling Pres. Sarkozy to look at France’s own colonial past. Insel wondered if Erdogan would indeed recognize the Armenian Genocide if France faced its own history? And what would Turkey do if the same suggestion came from a country that did not have dark pages in its history? Insel observed that this is the same Prime Minister who was claiming that all Ottoman archives are open, as his government was blocking the posting of these documents on the Internet.
As an Iranian diplomat recently noted: “The Armenian Genocide is a Damoclean Sword hanging over Turkey’s head.” Sooner or later, a wise Turkish leader would come to realize that acknowledging the Armenian Genocide is more beneficial to Turkey than its continued denial.


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  1. Edward Demian said:

    The Turkish population suffered gravely for the Genocidal actions of their corrupt leaders. Every time there was a mini genocide committed against any of its minorities, the disruption in the economy was such that it affected the survivors adversely. It was sad enough for the Victims, but they were the lucky ones. The unlucky, were the surviving witnesses, that had to deal with the results. Sure, the leadership of CUP benefited financially from the robbery of Turkey’s most affluent minorities, but those perpetrators were few, and well insulated, but the average Turk or Kurdish farmer that depended on the Armenian grocery man for credit, and capital investments to carry him through the winter, all of a sudden had to face empty stores, and very little financial infrastructure. Whole villages starved, or froze to death as a result. Thats why the Turkish government does not want any discussion of the Genocide subject. The results would be the realization that a select few, highjacked the Government, whipped up religious animosity and proceeded to murder and deport a quarter of the population; All Ottoman citizens, which were entitled to “due process”.All for no other reason than personal enrichment. And the beneficiaries to that genocidal campaign, or their descendants, are today still using the Turkish Army and secret services to deceive its own Population and hold on to their gains.

  2. Halo said:

    I believe that France has been Turkey’s close friend since the Armenian Genocide, and actually do believe that not only the French, but the entire allied countries of WWI are hypocrites and friends of the Turks behind closed doors. Although I do not agree with everything Aznavour has said lately, he did say one thing right: Armenians do not have any friends in the world, nor will any country ever help Armenia in a way which will make a difference. This is the reason that Armenia and the Armenian people never got justice. I bet the French and the Turks are both laughing at us with this charade.

    We tend to praise the French in WWI how they saved certain Armenians from massacre in Cilicia. yes this is true, however these were not the deeds of France, they were the deeds of French commanders who knew right from wrong. After all was said and done, who gifted all of Cilicia to Turkey? France. Who conspired with Turkey to bring in massive amounts of Turks from elsewhere to hold a “Democratic vote” to see parts of Cilicia/norther Syria where Armenians were living annexed to Turkey? France. Need I go on? England, France, Italy all “decided” to create Turkey at the expense of Armenia (and Greece) for their dirty politics.

    On another note regarding France, Genocide and Algeria: I ask the question, are the majority of Algerians today living as a diaspora outside of Algeria where the majority are French colonists? The answer is no, and I rest my case.

    • Gary_S said:

      the West did care about the Christians (Amrnians, Greeks and Assryians) who were massacred by the Turks. The US helped a lot in sending aid and creating orphanages for Christians during WW1. Read Peter Balakian’s book, Burning Tigris–excellent book. Thus, the West has different political interests.
      But Britain did give Greece the green light to attack Turkey during WW1. Unfortunately it lost.
      In regards to France during WW1, the West couldn’t have to much say over Turkey because Turkey wasn’t completely defeated. Ataturk created many problems.

  3. Seervart said:

    You are right Halo. The British lied to General Antranik and used him to fight for their behalf and deceived Gen. Antranik that he escaped to Bulgaria, then to California and he was in tears because he was royally deceived by the Brits. Meanwhile France promised Armenian freedom fighters to fight the Turks and then Cilicia was to be given to them. After a great many of our freedom fighters fought and thousands of them lost their lives; France revoked her promise and nothing but nothing was given back to the Armenians. These are the allies; deceitful sorts all of them. One can never rely on them as the saying goes «եղունգ ունիս գլուխդ քերէ». If you have to gain anything for yourself, you have to rely in your own powers. No one will help you for it excepting yourself.

  4. hi said:

    Armenians always have finger nail”yeghung” but we always lend it to others to scrach their heads and forget using it for our own.

  5. Edward Demian said:

    All of you forgot to mention the Russians. Don’t expect much from them either. Armenia needs to rely on Armenians. Bring home the lost sheep. As soon as possible. Repopulate Armenia and Artzach. We need a million settlers in Artzach, and two more millions in Armenia.

  6. Raffi said:

    Armdenians should trust in themselves, only trust when they have NO other choice left, TRUST BUT VERIFY

  7. manooshag said:

    Seems that in all these years since the Turkish Genocide of the Armenian nation… not any civilized nations have even thought to come to join together, to pursue honest efforts to end the cycle of ALL Genocides on our planet earth.
    Today. the most obvious and persistent Turkish leaderships still use Genocides (not wars – which they are apt to lose as they did in WWI) yet gaining all that which the Turks deem as due and owing to Turkeys… Still persistent in their denials of their Turkish Genocides of the Armenians, the Greeks, Assyrians, Pontics and more – all subjected to Turkish Genocides. All Genocides denied, by Turkey’s leaderships.
    But, today, now subjecting the Kurds to the Turkish Genocide of the Kurds via their incursion even into Iraq (supposedly to access the Kurds) SHALL THE TURK LEADERS, TODAY, DENY THIS GENOCIDE OF THE KURDISH PEOPLES – AS THEY DENIED THE TURKISH GENOCIDE OF THE ARMENIAN NATION? Actually, the word GENOCIDE includes slaughters, rapes, tortures and worse that the Turk mentality entails – now, before all the world… yet another Genocide to be denied by the Turkeys-today!!