BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN
“We should realize that when human hatred and the concept that ‘might is right’ start setting the rules of the game, nobody is really safe. Anyone can become a victim at any time. This is why it is so important that we all unite, as we are doing here. Let us continue together.”
These sage words were not spoken by a human rights activist who has devoted his entire life to protecting the rights of the disenfranchised and victims of unbearable crimes, but rather rather the closing thoughts of a speech by the Turkish chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe, Ahmet Cavusoglu, at Auschwitz on Monday during a 70th anniversary commemoration of the Holocaust.
Of course, no one at the commemoration called him out on his blatant hypocrisy. After all, this was the same person who, a week ago, welcomed his country’s president Abdullah Gul to the PACE session where he unequivocally denied the Armenian Genocide.
“Over the last six decades, we have been able to prove that long-lasting peace and stability are only possible on the basis of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. These are the three solid pillars on which the Council of Europe has been built; they are at the core of the European Convention on Human Rights,” said Cavusolgu earlier in his speech. “They are equally the basis of an impressive corpus of legal instruments, standards, monitoring mechanisms, good practices and means of international cooperation which have been put in place in order to allow European countries to face challenges together, in concertation [sic] and dialogue, rather than in conflict.”
Recent punishments handed down by the European Court of Human Rights clearly demonstrate that Turkey has and continues to operate well outside of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.” Turkey’s blatant disregard and violation of the “impressive corpus of legal instruments,” also contradicts the mission of PACE, but more importantly Cavusoglu’s chairmanship taints the body, which was created as a forum for European member and non-member states to gather.
No where in his remarks did Cavusoglu condemn the horrors of the Holocaust. He merely discussed “safeguards which can make sure that the Holocaust remains a fact of history, and never a prospect for the future.” His and his country’s continued denial of the Armenian Genocide not only poses a threat to any effort to stop—or erase—Genocide, but also diminishes the credibility of the body, which he chairs.
During his tenure as PACE President, Cavusoglu has been unable to lead with impartiality and objectivity and has been guided by the self-serving and denialist policies of Ankara, which has used PACE to poison Europe’s long-standing commitment to human rights. Cavusoglu must be removed from his position and integrity must be restored in PACE.
The blatant impunity with which President Obama appointed Matthew Bryza as US Ambassador to Azerbaijan has sparked the inevitable orgy between Bryza and his close-knit Azeri supporters.
Before assuming his post, he was feted at a reception hosted by the US-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce, where he proclaimed his excitement and anticipation for arriving in Baku and promoting US-Azeri relations. He also declared that his number-one priority was resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
While Bryza was awaiting word on his appointment, he lost out on critical months of being wined and dined by the Azeri elite who had become a core part of his circle when he served as OSCE Minsk Group co-chair. The sheer excitement by the Azeris indicates that the Bryza’s honeymoon that began during the Bush administration is sure to continue and flourish under the Obama presidency.
Bon voyage to Bryza as he begins his stint in representing US—our—interests in a country whose leader was likened by a State Department official to the Corleone family of Godfather fame.
With his pro-Azeri inclinations and propensity for putting his foot in his mouth, let’s see how far back Bryza will set the Karabakh peace process all while he’s advancing US interests in the region.