Monday, April 16, 2007

Azerbaijani-Turkish Forum plotting against Armenia; anti-denial case in Switzerland

Published on March 17, 2007

An Azeri-Turkish forum hatches anti-Armenian plots, as one Genocide denier is found guilty in a Swiss court
By Emil Sanamyan

WASHINGTON – Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat on March 9 joined Azeri President Ilham Aliyev and hundreds of Turkish and Azeri nationalists to plot strategies against Armenians, according to reports in the Turkish and Azeri media.

The “First Forum of World Azerbaijani and Turkish Diaspora Organizations” included 513 delegates from 48 countries, including 173 Azeris, 140 Turks, 23 Iraqi [Turkoman], 14 Meskhetian Turks, and five Cypriot Turks, the news service reported. The largest delegations came from Turkey, Germany, the U.S., Russia, the Ukraine, Sweden, the Netherlands, Romania, Norway, and Lithuania.

“The world feels jealous of Azerbaijan’s and Turkey’s sharing both the grief and the happiness,” Erdogan was reported to say by the New Anatolian. “One of the architects of these relations, the great leader Heydar Aliyev, said Azerbaijan and Turkey are one nation in two independent states. This slogan came true,” Erdogan added.

Aliyev stressed the importance of the forum: “The world does not have full information about us. The powerful Armenian lobby is working against us,” reported. He promised continued state support to make the Azeri and Turkish diasporas stronger, in order to “undermine the work of the Armenian lobby.”

Contacted by the Reporter, Executive Director of the U.S.-Armenia Public Affairs Committee Ross Vartian predicted: “This effort will fail because it is based on hatred of Armenians, as opposed to promotion of either Turkey or Azerbaijan.”

Among a number of Turkish and Azeri officials who spoke at the forum, there were also several representatives from third-party countries. reported that the latter included the Lithuanian Parliament’s Deputy Speaker Gintaras Steponavicius, and parliamentarians from Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine, and Luxembourg, as well as officials from the Baltic States, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Bulgaria.

The forum adopted a joint strategy for the Azeri and Turkish diasporas. It also issued statements condemning Armenia, denying the Armenian Genocide, protesting countries that have recognized the Genocide, and appealing for Pan-Turkic unity on those and other issues (including Cyprus and northern Iraq).

Rovshan Mustafayev, who heads the state-funded Institute on Human Rights at Azerbaijan’s National Academy of Sciences, has long argued that Armenians should be treated “not as a nation, but as an organization.”

In an interview with, Mustafayev described the forum as the “beginning of a quite serious political assault in terms of propaganda of ideas and mobilization of forces in the struggle with Armenian terrorism.” He went on to say that “this enemy [i.e. Armenians] has become an ethnic corporation and is developing as a political network.”

Meanwhile, in Switzerland

At least a few dozen activists could not make it to the March 9 forum, as they flew to Lausanne, Switzerland, where veteran Turkish politician Dogu Perincek was tried and found guilty over his comments dismissing the Armenian Genocide as an “international lie.”

According to the California Courier, Perincek was joined by a planeload of supporters from Turkey, which also included deniers Justin McCarthy, Norman Stone, Jean-Michel Thibaux (a.k.a. Atakan Turk), and Paul Leidinger. Perincek also brought along what he described as 90 kilos (200 pounds) of materials denying the Armenian Genocide. In response, the Swiss prosecutor told the court that “90 kilos of paper do not wipe out 90 years of history; and one million pages cannot get rid of one million victims.”

In the end, Judge Pierre-Henri Winzap ordered Perincek to pay a fine of $2,450 to the court and to the Swiss-Armenian Association as “moral injury.” He was also given a suspended 90-day jail term and an additional fine of $7,360, under a 1995 Swiss law which bans denying, belittling, or justifying any genocide, Swiss and international news agencies reported.

Judge Winzap described the defendant as an “arrogant instigator” and “racist,” and the Armenian Genocide as an accepted historical fact. The publicity-conscious Perincek said that he would appeal.

Switzerland’s anti-racism legislation has previously been applied to Holocaust denial. According to the BBC, 12 Turks prosecuted in Switzerland on similar charges in 2001 were acquitted. The Swiss Parliament formally recognized the Armenian Genocide in 2003.

Sarkis Shahinian, co-president of the Swiss-Armenian Association, told SwissInfo there was “great relief” in the community. “The tribunal’s decision today confirmed the opinion expressed during parliamentary debates that the article of the criminal code in question does not only apply to the Shoah (Jewish Holocaust),” the association said in a statement.

In a release to the press, the Brussels-based European Armenian Federation said that the “Swiss legal victory paves the way for the Europe-wide legislation criminalizing Genocide denial.”

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