Parsing French FM’s Code Language

Keghart.com Editorial Board, 14 December 2012

In mid-December, Laurent Fabius, the foreign minister of France, wrote an article in Istanbul's "Hurriyet Daily News" about the French-Turkish relations and made references to Armenians. The article, titled "France and Turkey: New horizons for a long-standing relationship", was a masterpiece of double-talk, coded language, waffling, Turkey stroking, diversion, and plain untruths. Let's try to translate what the long-time friend of Turkey wrote.

1. "I hope that one day soon, we can achieve a calm, fair reading of history," writes Fabius.
Translation: What we know is what Armenians claim happened. I hope one day we get the Turkish version, and decide for ourselves who is telling the truth. No mention that the Genocide has been established as a fact by historians of the period, including the International Association of Genocide Scholars.
You've heard Charles Aznavour's weepy ballads. The Armenian version of the Genocide is compromised. We hope "one day soon", Turks will come up with their version so we can forget the whole thing and share a shish-kebab, a doner and Turkish Delight together.

Keghart.com Editorial Board, 14 December 2012

In mid-December, Laurent Fabius, the foreign minister of France, wrote an article in Istanbul's "Hurriyet Daily News" about the French-Turkish relations and made references to Armenians. The article, titled "France and Turkey: New horizons for a long-standing relationship", was a masterpiece of double-talk, coded language, waffling, Turkey stroking, diversion, and plain untruths. Let's try to translate what the long-time friend of Turkey wrote.

1. "I hope that one day soon, we can achieve a calm, fair reading of history," writes Fabius.
Translation: What we know is what Armenians claim happened. I hope one day we get the Turkish version, and decide for ourselves who is telling the truth. No mention that the Genocide has been established as a fact by historians of the period, including the International Association of Genocide Scholars.
You've heard Charles Aznavour's weepy ballads. The Armenian version of the Genocide is compromised. We hope "one day soon", Turks will come up with their version so we can forget the whole thing and share a shish-kebab, a doner and Turkish Delight together.

2. "The question of the Armenian genocide is a sensitive and difficult subject that has all too often cast a shadow over the French-Turkish bilateral relations."
Translation: Those pesky, irritating French-Armenians are sabotaging amicable relations between France and Turkey.
"Sensitive and difficult subject" to whom? For Turks who rather see the world forget? For Monsieur Fabius? The man who apparently would like to see Armenians forget, although he would be appalled if someone suggested that his co-religionists forget the Holocaust.

3. "The tragedy that befell the ancestors of our compatriots of Armenian origin."
Notice how the wily veteran diplomat waffles and refuses to say "genocide".

4. "My colleague Ahmet Davutoglu has made encouraging statements. I quote, 'The Armenians have before them someone who is listening.'"
Monsieur Fabius isn't lying: Davutoglu is his colleague: they are pair of foxes who hope Armenians can be lulled through pretend language and false promises.
And pray tell, when did Davutoglu begin to listen to the Armenians? The Turkish foreign minister, a coward who hides his Karait Jewish origins, knows too well what Armenians want. There are enough Genocide of Armenians books, magazines, newspapers, testimonies from foreign and Armenian eyewitnesses, diplomatic and military dispatches, photos, movies, and TV documentaries to fill a whole wing of the Louvre. They tell chapter and verse what Turkey and Turks did to innocent Armenian civilians. These documents state exactly what Armenians want. Is Mr. Davutoglu "listening" to the Armenians or to the Turkish or Turkish-hired Western "scholars" who have made a career of Genocide denial? Is Davutoglu waiting for Armenians to amass documentation material to fill the Louvre before he concedes the truth?

5. "This foreign minister doesn't say nothing happened in 1915."
Ahem. Many things happened in 1915. The world was at war; four emperors lost their crowns; many colonies gained their independence; Frank Sinatra was born that year. What is Monsieur Fabius referring to? Surely not to the birth of Old Blue Eyes? Perhaps he means to say as the Ottoman Empire disappeared many Muslims also died. Perhaps Armenians killed these unidentified Muslims.

6. "For myself, I am not unaware of Turkey's suffering during the gradual dismantlement of the Ottoman Empire, with its successions of massacres and exoduses."
There you have it. As predicted in No. 5, Monsieur Fabius doesn't mention that Turkey's suffering was its own doing. It entered the war, hoping its ally, Germany, would win and Turks would be given the opportunity to ravish more lands and enslave more people. And what about Fabius' "massacres and exoduses"? Perhaps the unarmed Armenians massacred the Turks and then, in a mass exodus, left their ancestral homes for the green pastures of the Syrian Desert. Those crazy Armenians.

7. "However,I do believe that the disappearance of the Armenian civilization from Anatolian soil warrants some thinking on Turkey's part."
Ah, mendacity, ah, doubletalk. "Anatolian soil," says the minister, not Western Armenia, not Armenian Cilicia. "Warrants some thinking on Turkey's part"? SOME? For about 15 minutes? Then what?

8. "As to what is needed to heal the open wounds opened in 1915."
Fabius is asking the criminal–who has been denying its bloody deed for a century–to decide what is needed to heal the open wounds. Not Genocide, not theft of Armenian property, not the eviction of Armenians from their 4,000-year-old homeland, but "wounds" which Turkey might see fit to perhaps discuss, since Ahmetoglu is in a listening mode this week.

Mon Dieu, ministre.
 

22 comments
  1. Analysis of Mr. Fabius’ column is unfair & misleading

    I think your analysis of Mr. Fabius' column in Hurriyet is unfair and misleading. Instead of always feeling victimized, Armenians should celebrate a column such as this one written by Mr. Fabius. What else do you want after 100 years from a foreign power? What is important to Armenians is not so important to non-Armenians and yet even so, a foreign minister of a great power is lecturing Turkey on the Armenian genocide. He is mentioning the Armenian Genocide in his column and he is calling on Turkey to make peace with its past. You are misunderstanding the letter and I believe you have unrealistic expectations of what foreign governments can do for the Armenian cause. I believe they are doing enough and we should be thanking them instead of criticizing them. I was elated at reading his column a few days ago. Bravo and thank you Mr. Fabius.

    Best regards

    1. I disagree with Mr. Kavafian

      I disagree with Mr. Kavafian.

      1. He says what do we expect from a foreign [France] power after 100 years?
      France isn't just another foreign power. We have had 700-year (the longest with any European power) relationship with France. Our last king was more French than Armenian. He is buried in St. Denis, outside Paris, along with the French monarchy.
      2. Armenians volunteered in the French Army during the First World War, helping the Allies drive the Ottomans out of the Middle East.
      3. After assuring us that Cilicia would once again be Armenian, France betrayed us, slinking in the middle of the night, and left us at the mercy of Mustapha Kemal's butchers. There is ingratitude and betrayal here on the part of France. France should compensate for its betrayal by doing the right thing.
      4. After Russia and the US, France has the largest Armenian Diaspora. Armenians have integrated-assimilated in French society (unlike some newcomers who shall remain nameless) and contributed tremendously to France. France owes to these 500,000 Armenians.
      5. France, for decades, has stressed its special relations with Armenians. Special relations means going the extra mile.
      The above are good reasons to expect more from France.

      Every Armenian who follows the Armenian/French/Turkish relationship knows that France has been talking from both sides of its mouth: President Hollande indicates that he would pass the Bill re the criminalization of Genocide of Armenians denial; next day Fabius prances and tells a contradictory story. It's time we heard France's final say. No more double talk.

  2. I’m Afraid You Are Delusional

    Hayorti,

    I'm afraid that you are delusional in your expectations. Trying to connect events of 700 years ago to today and expect sympathy from the population of today is so unrealistic that it borders on science fiction. In politics you take what you can get. There is nothing Armenians can do; so align yourself tightly with Mr. Fabius; praise him; thank him and win him over. Who gives a rats' @#%$ today in France that France betrayed us in 1923 as much as that is an important issue to us. You can't force someone to like "you". You have to make yourself "likeable".

    There are just as many Turks in France, if not more than there are Armenians. The French government has been a cheerleader for Armenian causes and Armenians. Better start appreciating that. Every politician has to be able to double-talk. No government official will be able to tell French workers that they lost their jobs because Turkey chose a competing nuclear plant or subway trains because of France's position on the Armenian Genocide that took place in the previous century. You have to be realistic.

    If you force a decision on someone, you may not like the answer you are going to get. Push comes to shove, Hollande can say forget it. We are not going to support the Armenian Cause. What will you gain by that? And what can you do? Obama won the U.S. election by completely ignoring the Armenians. What leverage you have now?

    Stop whining and use what Fabius is doing to your advantage.
     

    1. Mr. Kavafian, If you want to exchange opinion

      Mr. Kavafian,

      If you want to exchange opinion, first you have to be civil: calling me delusional, when you don't know me, is the wrong way to start the conversation. Also, "rats @#%, etc." is unseemly. I'm surprised Keghart editors did not delete your crude word.

      Re the 700-year connection: there's hard politics and there's soft politics. Cultural relations are soft politics; historic links are soft politics. A great deal of Israel's diplomacy in its early days was soft politics (the Bible mainly). It still works.

      You say we should praise Mr. Fabius, win him over… Praise him for working against our interests? Mr. Fabius is a lost cause. For years he has demonstrated a diplomatic anti-Armenian bias. Just as there's no reason to elaborate on his motives, so is there no reason to think he would budge in his anti-Armenian stance. This is not the first time he has gone against his president. He also fought President Sarkozy on this issue.

      You say Armenians have to make themselves likeable to him. I guess you mean the French-Armenians. What do you want them do? Kiss the august Fabius' hand? Take him to lunch at the Maxim's? Wish him "Happy Hannuka?" French-Armenians have contributed more than enough to France for fabulator Fabius to "like" us.

      I don't know whether you are correct when you say there are more Turks than Armenians in France. Even if you were, that doesn't place Turks on equal footing with the Armenians in that country. If you were correct, it would also  mean there are more Turks than Jews in France. Yet there are no French-Turkish presidents, foreign ministers, prime ministers, cabinet ministers in France, the way there are French-Jews. Armenians are also part and parcel of society there; they have given many great men and women to France in the past 80 years. Meanwhile, Turks are newcomers who are regarded–rightly or wrongly–by suspicion.
      .
      The threat that French workers would lose jobs, if the bill passes, is an empty one. Every time a country has recognized or signaled that it would recognize the Genocide, Ankara has dispatched threats, recalled ambassadors…and then a few months later, with its tail between its legs, has reconciled to the reality which you preach.

      President Hollande wants to pass the bill. He needs all the ammunition to fight his errant foreign minister who apparently has his own agenda. I think the Keghart editorial contains some information, views and phrases which can be useful to French-Armenians in the next phase of their battle against Turkish blackmail and Fabius' kowtowing to Ankara.

      When you compare Obama's treachery and Hollande's promise you betray lack of understanding of international politics. America has a population of  335 million. American-Armenians count for fewer than 1.5 million. France has a population of around 60 million. French-Armenians are about 500,000. They also have a high and positive profile in that country, while in the U.S. millions wouldn't know the difference between Armenian and Albanian. You say Obama went back on his word therefore Hollande will also do so. I don't see the logic of that argument.  One has to be careful when one makes comparisons.

      What do you mean when you say Armenians should stop whining? After reading your letter, I re-read the Keghart editorial. I didn't see any whining. Perhaps you were making a "State of the Union" message to the 8-million Armenians around the globe.

      Finally, Fabius' candle has burnt long enough. He is at the tail end of his career. "Au revoir" to him would be a more appropriate communication as he leaves the stage. Perhaps there's an Antalya all-inclusive vacation waiting for him, courtesy of Erdogan-Davutoglu-Gul.

  3.  With all These Documents

    With all documents and iron-clad proof that "would fill a room at the Louvre" (and they have rather large rooms there) what is stopping us from going to the World Court of Justice at the Hague? It is long overdue. I guess there is  a reason of why we haven't done so. Perhaps a legal expert can explain to us why it can or cannot be done. Is it not the purpose of this court to decide?
     

    1. Gerard Paraghamian comment re World Court

      My understanding is that the World Court does not have jurisdiction unless  all parties, including Turkey, agree to be bound by its ruling.

      Obviously, Turkey would never agree to this.

  4. Fabius Letter in “Hurriyet”

    Why are we so afraid and negative about diplomatic language and make imaginative assumptions. Over the past 10 years France has been one of the strongest supporters of Genocide recognition. The support of other European countries followed only after French commitment to this issue. Even the Canadian recognition was partly related to the French involvement. 

  5. French wimps and pathetic Armenians

    The Keghart editorial is on target. 

    What is most disappointing is that the Armenian government has had nothing to say about Fabius' statement.  Fabius called into question the veracity of the Armenian genocide and essentially kowtowed to Turkey, and yet Armenia remains silent?  

    What the Armenian Foreign Ministry could do, if it did not want to make a public statement, is leak some comments to the media in which it takes France to task for Fabius' statement and reminds the French of the times that they have betrayed Armenians in the past. 

    I maintain that when Armenians are insulted, they must strike back. 

    Well, the French are wimps and the Armenian government is pathetic.
     

    1. Armenian Strike ?

      In case the Armenian Foreign Minister replied to the French Foreign Minister,  French media (like any of the NATO countries) wouldn't give publicity to his declaration because it's under control. When an Armenian President comes to France, his welcome is rarely telecast on French TV.

  6. France-Algeria/Armenia-Turkey

    1. France has first to come to terms with its own past in Algeria.
    2. France is a bankrupt country, and soon will follow Greece's, Spain's and Portugal's path.
    3. France has to acquiesce to Turkish expectations for the above reasons.
     
    Get it?

    1. Armenian Dream

      Try two comparison of your examples:
      1) French colonization has failed in Algeria, Frenchmen had to return to their country. Currently, there is an important Algerian immigration in France. Over the decades an important minority causes disturbance in France;
      2) Could you replace Algerian with Armenian and French with Turks and conclude "Armenian youth riots in Mongolia"? A dream!

  7. Laurent Fabius is… a politician

    Let me clarify first a minor detail for readers of Keghart.com.

    The French Foreign Minister did not say what he said to "Hurriyet Daily News" in an interview. "Hurriyet" printed an excerpt of an article that FM Laurent Fabius  wrote and which was originally published in the Fall 2012 issue of Turkish Policy Quarterly (TPQ). Here is the link : http://www.turkishpolicy.com/article/831/france-and-turkey-new-horizons-for-a-long-standing-relationship-fall-2012/

    So essentially Mr. Fabius was not responding to a question, but rather developing his views,and I am sure those of France,in an article he authored on bilateral Turkish-French issues, including the reference he made to the Armenian Genocide.

    If there are still Armenians on this earth that believe that our efforts in the diaspora for the wide recognition and acceptance of the Armenian Genocide are sufficient, energetic, comprehensive,compelling in focus  and effectiveness the way we conduct them at this moment and hence can  bring Turkey to its knees on this matter, I am sorry to say they are deluding themselves. Nor am  I among those who sees an enemy in every corner.

    The way things are now, and will be definitely so in the future unfortunately, is that we offer little in building knowledge and support across the board in European and world public opinion about what happened almost a century ago, and why it is important for citizens of the world to recognize the crime and stand for justice.

    It is only when we have an overwhelming support from  fellow citizens of the world to our cause and when such citizens are able and willing to  ring pressure on their politicians to say and do things that push the Genocide recognition agenda forward that we can expect results. Otherwise we will have people like Fabius and others who will use double talk to appear as wise politicians who are promoting the " building of bridges" among nations while actually doing nothing except serving the interest of their state and nation the way they see it fit.

    It took the Jewish diaspora 45 years of intensive, wide ranging, mutli-purpose effort after 1967 to bring the Holocaust to the forefront of public discussion and implant it in the consciousness of the world so that no one had or has the slightest doubt about the evil that Nazi Germany committed.What we are doing is so amateurish, so disjointed that the best we are getting is half baked "sympathy" pronouncements  from certain quarters sprinkled with some political double talk based on commercial, trade, political and military interests related to the Turkish presence in the Middle East, even though the long term prospects of Turkey as a united republic, hence a forceful presence, is at best problematic.

    I am sorry I have fallen to day in the trap of those who talk and make speeches…  I do recognize my utter failure here. My apologies. I think we better shut up and work with two or three long term results  in mind and the intelligence that goes with it. Intelligence here means ability to gather facts, put them together and analyze them for better understanding the trends that affect our life.
     
     

  8. French-Armenians or Armenian-Frenchmen?

    Dear Hayorti,
    I agree with your discussion, except for your first point. I stress that our relationship with France goes far beyond the last 700 years, and the Levon Lusignans, the last king of Cilicia, was buried next to his cousins, because the French kings were much more Armenian than Frenchmen.

  9. Mosul Oil

    We are still turning over the same sentences year after year. The only question is: which is most (strategically) useful for the control of the Middle East oil–Armenia or Turkey?

    The same situation happened about one century ago, during the Lausanne Treaty. Do you remember Churchill's quote re Armenian blood not having the same weight as Mosul oil"?

    Turkish governments (military or Islamic) can declare anything they want to NATO diplomats.

    1. Re Mosul Oil

      Dear Compatriot,
      Mosul is mostly populated by Kurds who enjoy U.S. protection. The Kurds are the partial owners of the oil there. Indeed, the distributing oil-producing companies are a threat in their own right and modality.
      The famous Caloost Sarkis Gulbenkian had a 5% stake right from the beginning of exploration and production of  the oil. I wonder if it forms part of  his will. A brilliant nephew of  his is there in that same field as a professional in the oil industry. The rest is upon us, Armenians (in teamwork, i.e. my earlier suggestion), for example, through an Armenian bar association.
      Hasgtsoghin  Barev.

  10. Confusion !

    Reading the various comments posted here, I conclude that most of us are confused about Armenian issues, and have differing views as to how to address these, depending where we come from, and because of that how we see the world around us. It is obvious that in matters of  pan-Armenian nature and importance, we still live in antiquity!!! I see more discordant notes than ability to pull together a common view that represents OUR common position and strategic thinking rather than a myriad of perplexing statements that bear no relation to reality. So how can you expect non-Armenians to show  understanding of, and support for our cause when we are unable to articulate a solid, simple, common perspective that advances our cause?  Is it too much to expect of Armenians to develop a strategic thinking, and a plan for best dealing with the challenges we face?  

    1. Any Suggestion?

      I agree with your comment, but let's be proactive and suggest a solution instead of criticizing. Who should make such a suggestion? What are the options? How come it hasn't been done until now?  Maybe it's already in process. Can someone reply, please?

      1. Waiting to hear to post my extensive Suggestions

        Dear Hraztan,

        I have asked the editor in an email to indicate to me how to post my very extensive "Projections on a New Statute for the Armenian Diaspora" in English and another in Armenian with a more important  theme.

        Hope they tell me how to post them here,  like that which Mr. Yenikomshian has posted. A very long one at  that!
         

        1. Dear Gaytzag

          Dear Gaytzag, comments are supposed to be short and to-the-point.  Mr. Yenikomshian has not written a comment yet, his submission was an article, submitted to Keghart, called A More Actionable Road Map…

          As for posting in the comments section, you may consider doing the following:

          1. Write on a Word document (very long posts may not be published)
          2. Edit it properly and do not use ALL CAPS.
          3. After you have finished your editing copy your text.
          4. Then open the comment section and click on the W icon in the menu bar. It will open a box.
          5. Paste your text in the box and click on OK.

          Regards,
          keghart.com

    2. Re Confusion

      Hamasdegh,

      Indeed, it is not "too much to expect of Armenians to develop a strategic thinking and a plan for best dealing with the challenges we face". Well and above the differing views you have noted in the various comments here, none of which you seem to espouse to build a consensus for a strategy, I wonder if you have a proposal for one. 

       

      1. No Lack of Ideas

        Dear Garabed and Hraztan,

        There is no lack of ideas out there! In fact, there are too many coming from individuals and from marginal groups that are vying for a place in this public debate for me to suggest another one.

        I have often thought about a pan-Armenian dialogue to extract a common platform that spells our goals and means for achieving them in a strategic context and marshaling our energies to achieve these goals. Can we rely on the traditional Armenian leadership in the Diaspora to lead such an effort? Should we rely on independent professionals from all walks of life to come together and declare a standing Diasporan Armenian Congress to chart an organization and future course of action? Do we have sufficiently motivated individuals with pan-Armenian standing and reputation who can pull the existing ideas together to forge a common ground? Do we start a "revolutionary" movement bent on challenging existing establishment norms and replacing them with new set  of organizational mechanisms? I despair thinking about the psychological hurdles and organizational impediments we throw at each other to avoid finding a solution while debating the same issues over and over again. No wonder the the majority of Armenians have become apathetic to things Armenian in general. 

        I am only hopeful that an Armenian generation, born and raised in the U.S., Canada, France, etc., having achieved a high level of success academically, professionally, politically come together to establish a "New Order " and produce a vision similar in context  to the "National Charter" of 1863 but reflecting our current realities, so that the Diaspora is endowed with a new organizational set up where the traditional power centers are recast in a new role and where authority is entrusted to fully-fledged professionals working in a democratic environment and where transparency and accountability are paramount.  

  11. Fabius Remarks

    Dear Hamasdegh,

    I fail to see why you are concerned that we have different views on Armenian issues. I find it very normal and part of human nature. Show me a country where everyone looks at issues with the same position and expectation. It is up to the leadership to compile these views and then develop a strategy and policy that the majority can agree upon. ……….

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