Friday, October 20, 2006

Department of Bad Ideas

[posted by Callimachus]

I haven't seen much about it over here, but there's a huge row in Europe now over a Socialist-sponsored bill making its way through the French parliament that would make it illegal in France "to question the Armenian genocide" of 1915.

Jacques Chirac is "re-explaining."

The Turks see ulterior motives:

It is increasingly becoming clear that French, Austrian, Danish and Dutch opposition to Turkey's EU membership is based not only on pure political interests. There is a much deeper process at work. We are dealing with a new version of Turcophobia.

But Vartan Oskanian, the Armenian minister of foreign affairs, writing in the International Herald Trib, says this is appropriate:

The message from France is clear: So long as Turkey refuses to confront its own history, others will feel impelled to do so. If, on the other hand, Turkey embarks on the difficult road of acknowledgement and reconciliation, then others will have reason to step aside and let the process take its course. Instead, we note with dismay that this very strong message is being lost on Turkey. It continues to surround itself with myths, evade the past, and thus elude the future. As we observe the reactions in Turkey, we find it disingenuous for a country that itself doesn't allow free speech and criminalizes even the exploration of certain areas of its own (and therefore our) history to be so indignant over a law that criminalizes the rejection and denial of that same history.

As sympathetic as I am to the Armenians, I have to agree here with Erkki Tuomioja, Finland's foreign minister. “I personally think that ‘genocide’ is the right term to describe what was experienced at that time and I hope Turkey will become ready to accept this reality,” he said. But:

“Parliaments shouldn’t make laws regarding historical facts. Lawmakers should never intervene in such self-evident and self-questioning political arguments and the atmosphere of debate that emerges in the aftermath through legislating them.”

Labels: , ,