Justice for Sale

editorialcartoonBy Edmond Y. Azadian

Justice delayed is justice denied. But how about justice overturned, which is the case with the European Court of Human Rights? The court justified Genocide denial by an official, namely Dogu Perinçek, representing the successor state of the one which had perpetrated the Armenian Genocide.

That action had a domino effect on the Swiss Court, which in turn reversed its verdict on Perinçek, whom a lower court had convicted of Genocide denial, and, adding insult to injury, ordered the survivors of the Genocide to indemnify Genocide denial.

Europe and the US boast of being countries of laws, whereas they constantly trade justice against political interests.

At the end of the Cold War, it was an alienable principle not to change any territorial borders. Never mind that Timor-Leste declared independence in 2002, the country of South Sudan was created in 2011, amputated from the country of Sudan and, most abominably, the former Yugoslavia was fragmented, creating several independent countries; and to punish Serbia for its aggression and serving as an extension of Russia’s policies in Europe, a piece of its land was severed to form an artificial country called Kosovo in 2008, ruled by gunrunners, drug dealers and terrorists.

To this day, Kosovo remains under NATO protection, despite the fact that it has become a training camp for Islamic terrorists and fundamentalists in Europe.

And yet, Karabagh (Artsakh) is denied the principle which led to the creation of all the above-named splinter countries.

This cavalier attitude towards Armenia expressed in all the dealings of the West with Armenia, is not because the West hates the Armenians, but because they represent an insignificant sum in the balance sheet of power.

The verdicts in Europe that declared Perinçek victorious have impacted other countries in Europe as well. President François Hollande had pledged pushing for an ironclad legislation in the French parliament to insure the criminalization of Genocide denial. However, while Mr. Hollande is fighting for his political life, it seems that Article 38 of the Equality and Citizenship Law is in jeopardy. Article 38 is directed towards condemnation of denial of crimes against humanity and genocides. The Coordination Council of Armenian Organizations in France is up in arms that the law which had been adopted by the Senate of the French parliament is under attack.

Even Germany is vacillating; when the German Bundestag adopted the Armenian Genocide resolution, the Erdogan government was fuming and sought retaliation.

At that time, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s principled position was applauded throughout Europe. Yet, Turkey did not give in. The Erdogan government used the occasion of the German government’s request to visit its military personnel stationed at the Incirlik Airbase in Turkey to demand Berlin rescind the Armenian Genocide recognition resolution. The German government blinked and stated that the resolution was of a political nature and did not carry any legal weight. The explanation was deemed satisfactory enough for the Erdogan government to grant them permission to visit.

As far as the Israeli government’s inexcusable stated reason not to recognize the Armenian Genocide is concerned, it may not fall in the same category of European power play. However, the root cause is the same: the relative lack of Armenia’s clout in the realm of international relations.

Recently, a member of the Israeli Knesset, Tali Ploskov, was in Armenia to participate in the 25th anniversary of the country’s independence. That participation in and of itself was salutary, because it marked a balanced approach by the Israeli government towards the region after arming Azerbaijan with lethal military drones. Speaking about Genocide recognition, Ploskov emphasized that progress had been recorded in the process of the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by Israel, when the Knesset Education, Culture and Sports Committee officially recognized it in June 2016, however, adding, “We cannot declare what our Armenian counterparts would like us to say. We have reasons that everyone understands. But this does not mean we cannot cooperate.”

Again, political considerations outweigh humanitarian principles. Even a nation which expects the entire world to lament the Holocaust and compensate the survivors, has the moral turpitude to deny or politicize the same tragedy which has befallen another nation.

Some analysts in Armenia may blame the series of setbacks on the weakness of Armenia’s foreign policy, which achieved some heartwarming successes in Latin America. Others may find evil intentions in the policy of nations concerned overlooking the fact that any country’s foreign policy is reflected in its importance on the political agenda of great powers.

Europe, America and even Russia have vital interest in dealing with Turkey. The Genocide issue is an overwhelming significance for Turkey. Therefore, in any political negotiation, there will be give and take. The blood of 1.5 million martyrs seems to be the most disposable item on the political agenda of countries dealing with Turkey. Therefore, they will dispense with Genocide recognition with impunity. Armenia does not have the power to retaliate as Turkey does.

After almost 150 years, Armenians should never forget the fable of Khrimian Hayrig’s “Iron Ladle.”

Armenia is being depopulated and suffers economically. No country will use charity in its politics in dealing with Armenia. Only Armenians can reinvigorate their homeland and enhance its prestige in the political arena.

Diasporan Armenians are engaged in politics — especially in Europe and the US — to bring awareness to the issues which concern them most. It seems that the efforts expended are not sufficient to persuade the powers-that-be to reconsider their options. Armenia’s strength and the diaspora’s full mobilization may alter the balance.

At the expense of sounding cynical, we must say that justice is for sale in the political marketplace. We can buy it, if we have the political purchasing power.