PARIS—The Armenian National Committee office in France and the European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy (ANC of Europe) issued a joint statement Tuesday strongly condemning the Dec. 17 ruling of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) that the denial of the Armenian genocide is not a criminal offense. According to the Court, the 2007 decision of the Lausanne Police Court against the head of Turkish Workers’ Party Dogu Perincek is a violation of the right to freedom of expression. (Read the Court’s press release here.)
The statement considered the ruling to be direct assistance to the wave of denial orchestrated by official Ankara and Baku throughout Europe. “Once again hiding behind the right to free speech, and following the example of the French Constitutional Council, the European Court undermines with this infamous decision the right to dignity of the victims and descendants of the Armenian genocide,” read the statement.
The statement further noted that the decision will “undoubtedly strengthen extremist movements” and undermine the voices calling for justice from within Turkey.
“Moreover, by declaring that ‘it would be very difficult to identify a general consensus’ on the Armenian genocide, the Court aligns itself with Perincek’s statement that the Armenian genocide is an ‘international lie.’ The Court’s approach that ‘clearly distinguished the present case from those concerning the negation of the crimes of the Holocaust’ is also deplorable. How can such a distinction be made by the highest human rights court in Europe?”
In conclusion, the statement noted that the ANC of France, in coordination with the EAFJD Brussels office, will fight against this unacceptable decision. “Switzerland has three months to appeal this verdict. We have requested a meeting with the Swiss Ambassador in Paris, to present our expectations from the Swiss authorities. Coordinated efforts will be made in other countries as well, through local ANCs and regional offices, as well as through official Yerevan, as we form a united front against this decision,” concluded the statement.
Turkish Foreign Ministry reacts
In a written statement issued on Wednesday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said, “The ECHR ruling is a milestone regarding the preservation of freedom of expression, which is a basic element of societies attached to the principle of freedom, democracy and the rule of law,” the Hurriyet Daily News reported.
“The ruling is a significant warning against attempts to enforce a unilateral view of history through legal means, and also against the politicization of law and history,” the statement added.