Dec 27 2013
Posted by Vugar Seidov in Uncategorized
Switzerland must learn lesson and respect the European court’s ruling


Switzerland must not let l’Association Suisse-Arménie (ASA) drag the Swiss society into the peripheral Turco-Armenian dispute over the controversial and tragic events of almost one century ago, thus, making the country look bad in the eyes of the international community yet once again (see: One embarrassment in Strasbourg over the issues that do not directly concern Switzerland is more than enough, and the country does not need yet another humiliation. Switzerland must respect the court’s ruling and advise Armenia and her diaspora to turn to Strasbourg or the Hague on their own without involving other countries, pushing them to the foreground, using them as a tool in Armenia’s century-long historical disagreements with her neighbors and eventually compromising and damaging the host countries’ reputation at courts. Due to the ASA, Switzerland is now a sad example for other countries not to make the same mistake.

Calling the Armenian allegations “international lie” by no means amounts to racial discrimination, as the ASA’s propaganda tries to argue. The ECHR made it clear that no consensus exists in this issue, even in academia. The scholarly debates still continue, and it does not seem likely that final conclusions or objective and absolute truth will be reached any time soon.

It is not the Swiss law that is questioned in Strasbourg, as the ASA alleges. It is indeed intolerable and immoral to deny genocides, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and the prosecution of the deniers in one way or another might have sense. But the question is, what is a “genocide” and who is entitled to decide if it is the case or not? As the ECHR’s decision clearly pointed out, “genocide is a very narrow legal concept”, which, as in the case of the Holocaust, amounts to “historical fact”, “has a clear legal basis” and, most importantly, represents an act that “had been found by an international court to be clearly established”. As opposed to the Holocaust, the Armenian allegations undeniably lack these crucial requirements that make genocide a historical fact. By calling upon the Swiss government and parliament to “completely distance from the degrading human dignity Holocaust deniers” (distancer «complètement» des propos «dégradants tenus par des négationnistes»), the ASA makes one last and desperate attempt to link the Armenian unfounded and controversial allegations with the historical fact of the Holocaust. It cynically manipulates with liberal terminology trying to associate its allegations with “European values” and the “fight against racism and xenophobia”, which have nothing in common with the issue concerned.

By bringing the issue to national parliaments, Armenian diaspora naively hoped to substitute international courts, which establish the fact of a genocide, with legislature, and unbiased professional judges with politically motivated and often ignorant MPs. And that is precisely what makes the National Council’s non-binding resolution (not even a law) of 16 December, 2003, absolutely pointless and useless. How can 107 lawmakers opposed by 67 colleagues and 11 abstained establish, by raising their hands, the fact of a crime that was supposedly committed a century ago, and thereby arbitrarily put an end to the academic debate and shut any scholars’ mouth by reminding them about the Criminal Code? Isn’t this a cynical misuse of Switzerland’s perfect legal system and lawmaking traditions by the lobby organizations?

The ECHR’s ruling must serve as a sobering message to all the nations, including the Swiss, to stay vigilant and not fall into the trap of a narrow-minded propaganda. The National Council must draw lessons from the ASA-provoked scandal and repeal the notorious 2003 resolution without delay. Let the scholars do their job.

To conclude,

1) The ASA grossly falsifies the facts: the ECHR does NOT question Article 261bis of the Swiss Penal Code per se. It just rightfully questions applicability of the alleged “Armenian genocide” to this article;
2) The ASA has the point to argue that Article 261bis is intended to protect dignity of human beings, victims of persecution and racial hatred, but it is wrong to claim that denial of what it arbitrarily calls “Armenian genocide” has anything to do with this article. The law does not even contain the word “Armenian”. After all, massacres of 1.2m Turks and Kurds by armed Armenian revolutionaries in the same period, which is also a historical fact, could also be called “genocide” in the same manner;
3) The ASA is wrong to assume that the non-binding resolution, adopted by the National Council in 2003, can replace an international court’s decision on genocide, which is required for this crime to become a fact. History is written by historians in the archives and not by MPs in the parliaments through raising their hands;
4) ECHR drew a clear difference between the Armenian allegations and the fact of the Holocaust. Therefore, the ASA must stop its speculations of making denial of the disputed issue equal to the denial of the indisputable Holocaust;
5) By claiming that en outre que cette décision va à l’encontre des principes et des décisions européennes dans la lutte contre le racisme et la xénophobie et qu’elle met en danger la dignité humaine, the ASA is trying to connect unconnectable. Historical debate on disputed issues has nothing to do with this;
6) Switzerland has been once embarrassed in Strasbourg over the peripheral Turco-Armenian issue, which does not directly concern it, and the country does not need yet another humiliation. The ECHR’s ruling is clear and just. Switzerland must accept it, learn lessons and move on.