Analysts: France to pursue Armenian issue to curb Turkey’s regional ambitions

Analysts: France to pursue Armenian issue to curb Turkey’s regional ambitions


Hrant Melik-Shahnazaryan (l), Hakob Chakryan

Political analysts and experts on Turkey say the French move to criminalize the denial of the Armenian Genocide is conditioned by the desire of Paris to check Ankara’s influence and activity in the region.

“The Armenian issue will continue to be pursued against Turkey, as a result of which its positions in the region cannot be dominant. Along with the talk of Turkey’s accession to the European Union, France and Germany are taking measures to curb Ankara’s activity, and the Armenian issue is considered to be one of these restrictive measures,” says political analyst Hrant Melik-Shahnazaryan.

The bill criminalizing the public denial of the Armenian Genocide that won the approval of the French Senate earlier this year but was later quashed by the country’s Constitutional Council as an act restricting freedom of speech caused tensions in the relations between Ankara and Paris, triggering Turkish sanctions against France. Like his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, current French President Francois Hollande, too, has pledged to come up with a new bill to punish the denial of the Armenian Genocide.

During a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart in Paris last week French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius indicated that the Constitutional Council’s ruling revoking the Armenian Genocide-related law would make it impossible to take up the issue again. The remarks were made as official Ankara announced the removal of all sanctions imposed on Paris over the passage of the Armenian Genocide-related law. But soon after that President Hollande reassured members of the influential Armenian community of France that he remained committed to his campaign pledge to have the legislation passed despite the controversial comments made by his foreign minister.

“It is not important whether during the time of the new president in office the denial of the Armenian Genocide will be criminalized in France or not; the statements by the foreign ministers of Turkey and France are not important either. The important thing for us is that Turkey is dependent on Europe both economically and politically. The [Armenian] issue will always be pursued against this state so it cannot establish dominance in the region,” says Melik-Shahnazaryan.

Hakob Chakryan, a specialist in Turkish studies, thinks that France’s international prestige may suffer if a similar bill presented by the president is rejected again.

“This time the resolution will not fail. Improvement of Turkish-French relations does not mean that the resolution will not be passed. It will be passed this time around. Turkey and France are countries of different standings. France is one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. The Turks know all too well that their levers of influencing France are very limited. So France won’t wince before Turkey,” says the expert.