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Is the Denial of the “Armenian Genocide” an Obstacle to Turkey’s Accession to the EU?

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Part of the Studies in the History of Law and Justice book series (SHLJ,volume 15)

Abstract

The persistent refusal of the Turkish government to qualify the Armenian massacres performed in 1915–1916, during the Ottoman Empire, as a genocide is here taken into consideration from the point of view of the ongoing accession process of Turkey to the European Union (EU). Even if the recognition of the “Armenian Genocide” as such does not pertain to Article 49 TEU, is not included in Article 2 TEU and does not constitute one of the so-called “Copenhagen criteria”, the criminalization in the Turkish legal order of any dissenting opinion on the matter could however indirectly affect the Copenhagen legal criteria (because of the compulsory nature of Framework Decision 2008/913/JHA) as well as Articles 2 and 49 TEU and the Copenhagen political criteria (because of the attenuation of the right of freedom of expression).

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Notes

  1. 1.

    This date (now observed as the “Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day”) coincided with the British (Australian and New Zealander) Allied troops landings at Gallipoli after some unsuccessful naval attempts to break through the Dardanelles to Constantinople from 19 February to 18 March 1915.

  2. 2.

    The total number of arrests, intended to deprive the Armenian population of leadership and a chance of resistance, amounted to 2.345.

  3. 3.

    The Law was officially enacted on 1 June 1915 and was repealed on 21 February 1916. Cf. Lekka (2007), p. 138 et seq.; Engert (2016), p. 221.

  4. 4.

    The literature on the “Armenian Genocide” is by now very extensive and extremely detailed. See, among the others, Hovannisian (1992); Melson (1996); Bryce et al. (2000); Bloxham (2005). Where the past few years are concerned, the studies of Kevorkian (2011); Akçam (2012); de Waal (2015); Flores (2015); Göçek (2015); Suny (2015); Gingeras (2016) are extremely significant.

  5. 5.

    See Baghdjian (1987), p. 255 et seqq.; Dadrian (2003), p. 224; Lekka (2007), p. 138 et seq.; Engert (2016), p. 221.

  6. 6.

    According to the web sites of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia (www.parliament.am) and the Armenian National Institute (www.armenian-genocide.org), declarations, laws or resolutions recognizing the “Armenian Genocide” have been adopted in: Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Paraguay, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, United States of America, Uruguay and Venezuela. Resolutions in favor of recognition have also been approved by the Holy See, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the European Parliament (European Union) and the Parliament of Mercosur. Cf. below, Sect. 3.

  7. 7.

    Bayraktar and Seibel (2004), p. 393.

  8. 8.

    Engert (2016), p. 226.

  9. 9.

    Engert (2016), p. 225.

  10. 10.

    See the text of the Letter of 10 April 2005 of H.E. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan addressed to H.E. President of Armenia Robert Kocharian, proposing to form a joint historical commission with Armenia, and the text of the Declaration by the Turkish Grand National Assembly supporting the Turkish proposal of 13 April 2005 to form a joint historical commission with Armenia, both available on the Internet at www.mfa.gov.tr.

  11. 11.

    Engert (2016), p. 226.

  12. 12.

    Among the most recent diplomatic disputes, a famous one occurred in 2015, when Pope Francis said that the Armenian massacres of 1915–1916 were to be considered as “the first genocide of the 20th century”. The word was not used again, due to a strong Turkish backlash, until 24 June 2016, when he reaffirmed and solidified his stance that this constituted a genocide and strongly condemned the enduring denial. Turkey responded by accusing the Pope of having a “crusader mentality” against the Country. The Holy See strongly denied this, claiming that the Pope had actually called for reconciliation between Armenians and Turks.

  13. 13.

    For instance, Article 301 has been used to bring charges against five journalists who, in 2006, had criticized a Court order to shut down a conference in Istanbul about the Ottoman Armenian casualties in the Ottoman Empire during World War I; against Arat Dink, editor-in-chief of the Armenian bilingual weekly newspaper Agos, published in Istanbul, and its managing editor Serkis Seropyan, in 2007, for printing Dink’s words that the killings of Armenians in 1915 were a genocide; and against the writer Orhan Pamuk for stating, in an interview of 2009 with the Swiss magazine Das Magazin, that “Thirty thousand Kurds have been killed here, and a million Armenians. […]”. Cf. Engert (2016), p. 228 et seq.

  14. 14.

    See Council Decision 64/732/EEC of 23 December 1963. The English version of the Ankara Agreement is published in OJ C 113, 24 December 1973, p. 2 et seqq. Cf. also the web site of the Ministry of European Union Affairs of the Republic of Turkey (www.ab.gov.tr).

  15. 15.

    See respectively: OJ C 113, 24 December 1973, pp. 18 et seqq. and 76 et seqq. (Council Regulation (EEC) No. 2760/72 of 19 December 1972); OJ L 361, 31 December 1977, p. 2 et seqq. (Council Regulation (EEC) No. 3026/77 of 28 November 1977); OJ L 67, 17 March 1979, p. 15 et seqq. (Council Decision 79/281/EEC of 5 March 1979); OJ L 254, 30 June 2005, p. 57 et seqq. (Council Decision 2005/672/EC of 13 June 2005). Cf. also on the Internet the web site www.ab.gov.tr.

  16. 16.

    In OJ L 35, 13 February 1996, p. 1 et seqq. See also Türkiye-Avrupa Topluluğu Ortaklık Konseyi Kararları/Turkey-European Union Association Council Decisions, 1964–2000, Vol. 2, Ankara, 2001, p. 199 et seqq. (www.ab.gov.tr).

  17. 17.

    Turkey’s accession to the EU presents a fascinating case study for all those with an interest in europeanization. See Arikan (2006); Arvanitopoulos (2009); Nas and Özer (2012); Müftüler Baç (2016).

  18. 18.

    See Council of the European Economic Community, Demande d’adhésion de la Turquie à la Communauté économique européenne (14 avril 1987), lettre adressée à Leo Tindemans, Ministre belge des Affaires étrangères et Président en exercice du Conseil des Communautés européennes, doc. 6012/87, reproduced at www.cvce.eu.

  19. 19.

    Commission of the European Communities, Commission Opinion on Turkey’s Request for Accession to the Community, doc. SEC(89)2290 final of 20 December 1989, available at www.cvce.eu. In accordance with the procedure set out at that time in Article 237 TEEC, the Council called on the European Commission (on 27 April 1987) to deliver an opinion on the application. The European Commission reaffirmed that Turkey was a natural candidate for full EU Member State status and took the view that closer relations should be encouraged. It pointed out, however, that no negotiations for Turkish accession to the EU should be contemplated until 1993 at the earliest; the major political priority in the meantime should be to further European integration with the completion of the internal market and progress towards Economic and Monetary Union. The European Commission considered that, until these aims could be judged to have been successfully achieved, it would be extremely unwise to begin enlargement negotiations.

  20. 20.

    Helsinki European Council, 10 and 11 December 1999, Presidency Conclusions, point 12 (cf. www.consilium.europa.eu).

  21. 21.

    The text of Council Regulation (EC) No. 390/2001 is available in OJ L 58, 28 February 2001, p. 1 et seqq. On its basis, an Accession Partnership with Turkey has been adopted in 2001 (Council Decision 2001/235/EC of 8 March 2001); in 2003 (Council Decision 2003/398/EC of 19 May 2003); in 2006 (Council Decision 2006/35/EC of 23 January 2006); and in 2008 (Council Decision 2008/157/EC of 18 February 2008). About Decision 2008/157/EC see furthermore below, Sect. 4.

  22. 22.

    Copenhagen European Council, 12 and 13 December 2002, Presidency Conclusions, doc. 15917/02, points 18 and 19 (cf. www.consilium.europa.eu).

  23. 23.

    Brussels European Council, 16 and 17 December 2004, Presidency Conclusions, doc. 16238/1/04, point 22 (cf. www.consilium.europa.eu).

  24. 24.

    Cf. European Commission, Negotiating Framework (Luxembourg, 3 October 2005), available at ec.europa.eu.

  25. 25.

    Cf. European Commission, Negotiating Framework (Luxembourg, 3 October 2005), points 12 and 13.

  26. 26.

    On the acquis of the Union see below, Sect. 3. For the general arrangement of chapters with the candidate States cf. below, footnote 60.

  27. 27.

    These are: Chapters 1 (Free Movement of Goods), 3 (Right of Establishment for Companies and Freedom to provide Services), 9 (Financial Services), 11 (Agriculture and Rural Development), 13 (Fisheries), 14 (Transport Policy), 29 (Customs Union) and 30 (External Relations).

  28. 28.

    Since 8 December 2009, these are: Chapters 2 (Freedom of Movement for Workers), 15 (Energy), 23 (Judiciary and Fundamental Rights), 24 (Justice, Freedom and Security), 26 (Education and Culture) and 31 (Foreign, Security and Defence Policy).

  29. 29.

    Currently, the open Chapters are the following: 4 (Free Movement of Capital), 6 (Company Law), 7 (Intellectual Property Law), 10 (Information Society and Media), 12 (Food Safety, Veterinary and Phytosanitary Policy), 16 (Taxation), 17 (Economic and Monetary Policy), 18 (Statistics), 20 (Enterprise and Industrial Policy), 21 (Trans-European Networks), 22 (Regional Policy and Coordination of Structural Instruments), 27 (Environment and Climate Change), 28 (Consumer and Health Protection), 32 (Financial Control) and 33 (Financial and Budgetary Provisions). Chapter 25 (Science and Research) was opened on 12 June 2006 and closed on the same day.

  30. 30.

    Council Decision 2014/252/EU of 14 April 2014. See OJ L 134, 7 May 2014, p. 3 et seqq.

  31. 31.

    Cf. European Commission, Roadmap towards the Visa-free Regime with Turkey (16 December 2013), available at ec.europa.eu.

  32. 32.

    Brussels European Council, 15 October 2015, Presidency Conclusions, doc. EUCO 26/15, point 2 (www.consilium.europa.eu).

  33. 33.

    See European Council, Meeting of Heads of State or Government with Turkey, EU-Turkey Statement, 29 November 2015, point 2; and European Council, EU-Turkey Statement, 18 March 2016, point 8. Both of them are available on the Internet at www.consilium.europa.eu.

  34. 34.

    European Parliament, Resolution of 24 November 2016 on EU-Turkey relations, doc. P8_TA(2016)0450, points 1 and 3 (see www.europarl.europa.eu). Cf. also the Foreign Affairs Council Conclusions on Turkey of 18 July 2016.

  35. 35.

    Council of the European Union, Outcome of the Council Meeting, 3511st Council Meeting, General Affairs, Brussels, 13 December 2016, doc. 15536/16, point 23 (cf. www.consilium.europa.eu).

  36. 36.

    From 1 July 2012 to 31 December 2012, Turkey froze its relations with the EU for the duration of the Republic of Cyprus’s rotating Presidency.

  37. 37.

    The Kurdish issue has always been one of a particular importance in Turkish complex political life. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has condemned Turkey for thousands of abuses in respect of Kurdish people. The judgments are related to executions of civilians, torturing, forced displacements, destroyed villages, arbitrary arrests and trials, murdered and disappeared journalists. Among the latest judgments, cf.: ECtHR, 24 March 2014, No. 23502/06, Benzer and Others v. Turkey; ECtHR, 6 December 2016, No. 50171/09, Belge v. Turkey.

  38. 38.

    See Sect. 1.

  39. 39.

    See the web site of the Armenian National Institute (www.armenian-genocide.org).

  40. 40.

    See the web site of the Armenian National Institute (www.armenian-genocide.org).

  41. 41.

    See the web site of the Armenian National Institute (www.armenian-genocide.org).

  42. 42.

    See the web site of the Armenian National Institute (www.armenian-genocide.org).

  43. 43.

    See the law No. 2001-70 relating to the recognition of the Armenian Genocide of 1915 (loi relative à la reconnaissance du genocide arménien du 1915), of 29 January 2001, published in Journal Officiel de la République Française No. 25, 30 January 2001, p. 1590. A law of 2012 making a criminal offence “the denial or extreme minimization” of one or several genocide crimes (among those, the “Armenian Genocide”), has been censored by the French Constitutional Council (decision No. 2012-647 of 28 February 2012) and therefore has not been promulgated.

  44. 44.

    Commission of the European Communities, Europe and the Challenge of Enlargement, Bulletin of the European Communities, Supplement No. 3, 1992, p. 11.

  45. 45.

    On the origin and meaning of Article 2 TEU, and on and the characters of the outlined model of European society, see Priollaud and Siritzky (2008), p. 31 et seq.; Fischer (2010), p. 632; von Bogdandy et al. (2012), p. 490 et seqq.

  46. 46.

    Article 49 (1) TEU. Para. 2 of the same provision also states that “The conditions of admission and the adjustments to the Treaties on which the Union is founded, which such admission entails, shall be the subject of an agreement between the Member States and the applicant State. This agreement shall be submitted for ratification by all the contracting States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements.” Cf. Priollaud and Siritzky (2008), p. 143 et seqq.; Pingel (2010), p. 236 et seqq.

  47. 47.

    Copenhagen European Council, 21–22 June 1993, Conclusions of the Presidency, doc. SN/180/1/93, point 7.A (cf. www.consilium.europa.eu).

  48. 48.

    Madrid European Council, 15 and 16 December 1995, Presidency Conclusions, doc. SN/004/0/95, point III.A (cf. www.consilium.europa.eu).

  49. 49.

    Luxembourg European Council, 12 and 13 December 1997, Presidency Conclusions, doc. SN/400/97, point 23 (cf. www.consilium.europa.eu).

  50. 50.

    Santa Maria da Feira European Council, 19 and 20 June 2000, Presidency Conclusions, doc. SN/200/1/00, point 16; Göteborg European Council, 15 and 16 June 2001, Presidency Conclusions, doc. SN 200/1/01, points 7 and 8 (cf. www.consilium.europa.eu).

  51. 51.

    See: Court of First Instance, order of 17 December 2003, Case T-346/03, Krikorian and Euro-Arménie ASBL v. European Parliament, Council of the European Union and Commission of the European Communities, para. 19 (Reports of Cases 2003, II-6037 et seqq.); Court of Justice, order of 29 October 2004, Case C-18/04P, Krikorian and Euro-Arménie ASBL v. European Parliament, Council of the European Union and Commission of the European Communities, para. 32 (not published).

  52. 52.

    See Rosanò, in this book.

  53. 53.

    European Parliament, Resolution of 28 September 2005 on the opening of negotiations with Turkey, doc. P6_TA(2005)0350, point 5 (www.europarl.europa.eu). Nevertheless, in the resolution on Turkey’s progress towards accession of 27 September 2006 (point 56), the European Parliament stressed that, although the recognition of the “Armenian Genocide” as such is formally not one of the Copenhagen criteria, it is indispensable for a Country on the road to membership to come to terms with and recognize its past.

  54. 54.

    Cf. below, Sect. 4. See also Pistoia, in this book.

  55. 55.

    See Commission of the European Communities, Commission Staff Working Paper, Croatia, Stabilisation and Association Report, doc. SEC(2002)341 final of 4 April 2002, points 2.1.1. and 2.3.1.; European Commission, Croatia 2005 Progress Report, doc. SEC(2005)1424 final of 9 November 2005, points B.1. and B.1.3.

  56. 56.

    Brussels European Council, 17 and 18 June 2004, Presidency Conclusions, doc. 10679/2/04, points 35 and 39; Brussels European Council, 16 and 17 December 2004, Presidency Conclusions, point 16; European Commission, Croatia 2005 Progress Report, point A.1.

  57. 57.

    Cf. Brussels European Council, 17 and 18 June 2004, Presidency Conclusions, points 35 and 39; Brussels European Council, 16 and 17 December 2004, Presidency Conclusions, point 15. See furthermore Pistoia, in this book.

  58. 58.

    On the right of memory cf. Osiel (2005), p. 105 et seqq.; Taubira (2006), p. 164 et seqq.; Giuva (2013), p. 113 et seqq.; Wilson (2014), p. 332 et seqq.

  59. 59.

    Osiel (2005), p. 109; Wilson (2014), p. 342.

  60. 60.

    For the negotiations with Croatia (which joined the EU in 2013), Iceland (actually suspended), Turkey, Montenegro, Serbia and, in the future, with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania (candidate Countries), the acquis is split up into thirty-five chapters (thirty-three thematic, one dedicated to “Institutions” and one to “Other Issues”: see above, Sect. 2 and footnotes 27, 28 and 29), with the purpose of better balancing between the chapters: dividing the most difficult ones into separate chapters for easier negotiation, uniting some easier chapters, moving some policies between chapters, as well as renaming a few of them in the process.

  61. 61.

    In OJ L 328, 6 December 2008, p. 55 et seqq.

  62. 62.

    See Article 1(1)(c) of Council Framework Decision 2008/913/JHA. For some comments on this act, cf. Garman (2008), p. 843 et seqq.; Mitsilegas (2009a), p. 98 et seqq. and (2009b), p. 530 et seqq.; Renauld (2010), p. 119 et seqq.

  63. 63.

    In OJ C 202, 7 June 2016, p. 321 et seqq.

  64. 64.

    See Article 35 TEU as in force before the Lisbon Treaty.

  65. 65.

    In OJ L 51, 26 February 2008, p. 4 et seqq. See also above, footnote 21.

  66. 66.

    See the Annex to Council Decision 2008/157/EC, point 3.1. Cf. also the Annexes to Council Decision 2001/235/EC (point 4.1), to Council Decision 2003/398/EC (point 4) and to Council Decision 2006/35/EC (point 3.1). All these acts have been already mentioned above, footnote 21.

  67. 67.

    Cf. for instance: ECtHR, 23 September 1998, No. 24662/94, Lehideux and Isorni v. France, para. 47; ECtHR, decision of 24 June 2003, No. 65831/01, Garaudy v. France, para. 1; ECtHR, decision of 13 December 2005, No. 7485/03, Witzsch v. Germany (No. 2), para. 3. The related texts are all available on the Internet at hudoc.echr.coe.int.

  68. 68.

    ECtHR, 15 October 2015, No. 27510/08, Perinçek v. Switzerland (see hudoc.echr.coe.int).

  69. 69.

    Ibidem, paras. 242–250. Cf. also the dissenting opinions of judges Isabelle Berro, Josep Casadevall, Vincent A. De Gaetano, Egidijus Kūris, Linos-Alexandre Sicilianos, Johannes Silvis and Dean Spielmann (hudoc.echr.coe.int). On the Perinçek case see Voorhoof (2014, 2015); Borgna (2015), p. 697 et seqq.; Tuncel (2015); Della Morte (2016), p. 183 et seqq.

  70. 70.

    See ECtHR, 10 February 2009, No. 27690/03, Güçlü v. Turkey, paras. 33–42; ECtHR, 20 May 2010, No. 2933/03, Cox v. Turkey, paras. 41–45; ECtHR, 14 September 2010, Nos. 2668/07, 6102/08, 30079/08, 7072/09 and 7124/09, Dink v. Turkey, paras. 128 and 135; ECtHR, 25 October 2011, No. 27520/07, Altuğ Taner Akçam v. Turkey, paras. 62–82 and 89–96 (hudoc.echr.coe.int).

  71. 71.

    Cf. above, Sect. 3.

  72. 72.

    Cf. above, Sect. 3.

  73. 73.

    Turkey ratified the European Convention on Human Rights on 18 May 1954, and Protocol No. 11 of 11 May 1994 (by which the European Court of Human Rights has been given compulsory jurisdiction, since previously Member States could ratify the Convention without accepting the jurisdiction of the Court) on 11 July 1997.

  74. 74.

    The text of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union is reproduced in OJ C 202, 7 June 2016, p. 391 et seqq.

  75. 75.

    See the Explanations relating to the Charter of Fundamental Rights (“Explanation on Article 11–Freedom of Expression and Information”), published in OJ C 303, 14 December 2007, p. 17 et seqq. Although the Explanations do not as such have the status of law, they are a valuable tool of interpretation intended to clarify the provisions of the Charter itself.

  76. 76.

    The limitations which may be imposed on it may therefore not exceed those provided for in Article 10(2) ECHR.

  77. 77.

    Cf. footnotes 21 and 65.

  78. 78.

    See the Annex to Council Decision 2008/157/EC, point 3.1. Cf. also the Annex to Council Decision 2006/35/EC, point 3.1.

  79. 79.

    In OJ L 77, 15 March 2014, p. 11 et seqq.

  80. 80.

    Articles 1 and 2(1)(a)(iii) and (iv), of Regulation (EU) No. 231/2014.

  81. 81.

    See also above, Sect. 3.

  82. 82.

    European Commission, Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on “EU Enlargement Policy”, COM(2016)715 final of 9 November 2016, pp. 10 and 19.

  83. 83.

    See also in this sense: European Commission, Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on “Enlargement Strategy and Main Challenges 2014–15”, COM(2014)700 final of 8 October 2014, pp. 22 and 50; European Commission, Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on “EU Enlargement Strategy”, COM(2015)611 final of 10 November 2015, pp. 12 and 33.

  84. 84.

    The Caucasus Campaign comprised in fact armed conflicts between the Ottoman Empire and the Russian Empire (later including Azerbaijan, Armenia, the Central Caspian Dictatorship and the British Empire) as part of the Middle Eastern theatre during World War I. The “Armenian Genocide” is intertwined with the events of this Campaign, since Turkish Armenia was depopulated of its entire Christian Armenian population as part of an Ottoman plan to weaken the Russian-Armenian alliance, as only Muslims, who were loyal to Turkey, would remain. See also above, Sect. 1.

  85. 85.

    See in this sense Souleimanov and Ehrmann (2014), p. 33.

  86. 86.

    Souleimanov and Ehrmann (2014), p. 27. Cf. above, Sect. 3.

  87. 87.

    Souleimanov and Ehrmann (2014), p. 27. Cf. above, Sect. 3. See furthermore Rosanò, in this book.

  88. 88.

    See above, Sect. 4.

  89. 89.

    Cf. above, Sect. 3.

  90. 90.

    See above, Sect. 3.

  91. 91.

    Cf. ECtHR, 25 October 2011, No. 27520/07, Altuğ Taner Akçam v. Turkey, para. 93.

  92. 92.

    European Commission, Negotiating Framework (Luxembourg, 3 October 2005), point 4.

  93. 93.

    See above, Sect. 4.

  94. 94.

    Cf. above, Sect. 3.

  95. 95.

    See Souleimanov and Ehrmann (2014), p. 33 et seq.

  96. 96.

    Turkey is a Member State of the Council of Europe since 9 August 1949; of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), later of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), since 25 June 1973; of the European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation (Eurocontrol) since 1 March 1989. The Country is also part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and of the Western Europe branch of the Western European and Others Group (WEOG) of the United Nations. It has been an Associate Member of the Western European Union (WEU) from 1992 to its abolition in 2011.

  97. 97.

    Engert (2016), p. 230.

  98. 98.

    See Souleimanov and Ehrmann (2014), p. 34; Engert (2016), p. 232.

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Simone, P. (2018). Is the Denial of the “Armenian Genocide” an Obstacle to Turkey’s Accession to the EU?. In: Lattanzi, F., Pistoia, E. (eds) The Armenian Massacres of 1915–1916 a Hundred Years Later. Studies in the History of Law and Justice, vol 15. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-78169-3_12

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