Thursday, December 22, 2011

France-Turkey, Je t'aime moi non plus

Turks have never been particularly fond of Nicolas Sarkozy, who opposed admitting them to the EU and who proposed a Union of the Mediterranean that they saw as little more than a consolation prize or, worse, a device to dilute their growing influence in the region. But the new law against denial of genocides, plural, including the one that Turkey is supposed to have perpetrated on its Armenian subjects, has led to an open breach with recall of Turkey's ambassador to Paris.

The Turks see a crass electoral maneuver, and no doubt they're right. Historians see an infringement of their right to interpret the events of the past by the norms of scholarly investigation rather than in obeisance to the political whims of the moment.

It's a sad business all around. Anyone who thinks that Turkish or Armenian national memory is going to be turned by lessons delivered from Paris is at best naive. Perhaps the UMP should have heeded François Baroin's warning of the other day, directed, it is true, at England and not France: "La France ne veut pas recevoir de leçons. On en a beaucoup reçu, on n'en donne pas." Apparently Baroin was misinformed.

In any case, if lessons are to be given, they must be taught subtly and with due respect for the sensibilities of the pupil.

UPDATE: Arun Kapil points out the reasons why this is a bad law.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am now waiting with bated breath for laws stating what is the historical truth about the Franco-Algerian war and the Vendée (Chouannerie) war and their attendant atrocities, which are still the subject of heated debate.

Oh, I forgot, Sarkozy told Algeria he doesn't believe in repentance and apologies...