A commentary in Guardian discusses European Union’s recent refusal to refer to the Armenian genocide as such.
This week the European parliament will seek to introduce a new euphemism for genocide into the lexicon of international relations. Diplomats who follow MEPs’ advice will no longer have to run the risk of offending countries with a dishonourable history by uttering the ‘g’ word. They can, instead, refer to the most egregious crimes against humanity as “past events”.
That is the phrase our fearless elected representatives use in a report they are about to formally endorse on Turkey’s efforts to join the European Union. Although it advocates a “frank and open discussion” between Turkey and Armenia about “past events”, the report is anything but frank and open about what those events could be.
In the absence of more explicit guidance, I can only assume the “events” in question were the slaughter of some 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman forces in 1915. There is ample evidence to suggest that this was the 20th century’s first holocaust and that it partly inspired the efforts to exterminate Europe’s Jews that Hitler initiated two decades later. No less a personage than Winston Churchill described the “massacring of uncounted thousands of helpless Armenians, men, women and children together, whole districts blotted out in one administrative holocaust”. Political bodies across the world have passed resolutions recognising that a genocide occurred, including the European parliament itself back in 1987 (a fact conveniently omitted from the new report).
And is it too much to ask from our elected representatives that they call a spade a spade and a genocide a genocide?