Turkey Should Soften Stance on Armenian Genocide to Gain Entrance to the European Union

Within the last week, Turkey has received increased pressure to recognize the Armenian genocide. This week, Anonymous threatened to shut Turkish and American government websites if they do not recognize the Armenian genocide. Last week, France implemented a new genocide bill, criminalizing denial of the Armenian genocide. Turkey recalled its ambassador from Paris and suspended bilateral political and military cooperation between the two countries, threatening desperately needed relations with France for EU accession. Still, Turkey should use this flare-up to its own advantage, especially as a step towards European Union ascension.  

Turkey should follow suit with France and adopt a law that prevents the Armenian genocide from being classified as insulting “Turkishness.” This law could improve relations with the French Armenian diaspora and French government and leave Germany and France with one less excuse to block Turkey’s accession.

Insulting Turkishness is insulting Turkey, the Turkish ethnicity, or Turkish government institutions. With 500,000 wealthy individuals, French Armenians often lobby against Turkish accession. They do not like Turkey’s “insulting Turkishishness.” This law enables Turkish citizens to be imprisoned for referring to the Armenian genocide as genocide under its “insulting Turkishness” clause. Essentially, this law forces Turkish citizens to deny the Armenian genocide. French Armenians want Turkey to limit the use of “insulting Turkishness” to exclude the Armenian genocide.  

Adding a law to limit insulting Turkishness could improve relations with the French Armenian diaspora. Turkey would have gotten rid of the law that French Armenians did not want Turkey to have.

The Armenian diaspora’s satisfaction would also relieve the French government of the pressure to accommodate them. Sarkozy would achieve success in maintaining no legal denial of the Armenian genocide.

Turkey would also benefit. This law would not accept genocide yet, which is in line with Turkey’s culture of moving towards acceptance of the Armenian genocide.

Turkey’s improved relationship with France would make the U.S. further encourage Turkish accession. The U.S. wants Turkey and France to improve relations. Victoria Nuland, a spokeswoman for the State Department, said “… we want to see good relations between them.” By satisfying the U.S., Obama is likely to renew his support for Turkish EU accession from his previous support.

With one less issue to complain about, France relieved of a major opposition group to Turkish accession, and Obama encouraging Turkish accession, France and Germany have one less issue they can use to prevent Turkey from acceding.

The only problem remaining is whether Turkey will let go of its anger and see the potential that France’s genocide bill has in taking one step closer to accession.

Photo Credit: Rita Willaert