French intellectuals protest Macron inviting Turkey’s Erdoğan to World War I ceremonies

A group of French intellectuals, politicians and civil society organizations published a joint letter in Le Monde on Tuesday protesting French President Emmanuel Macron for inviting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to participate in the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I in Paris on Nov. 10-11.

According to a report by online news outlet Ahval, the group said the events were meant to express a joint will to prevent a repetition of the horrors of World War I and reminded that, accordingly, the Élysée Palace indicated that the events would be organized as a peace forum rather than a military parade.

The letter said that Erdoğan had perpetuated the Turkish state’s denial of the Armenian genocide, the extermination of reportedly 1,5 million Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire in 1915, adding that peace could not be achieved by complacency towards crimes in the past.

The signatories agreed that the aggressive nationalism of the Turkish state had escalated since Erdoğan had come to power with his Islamist leanings. Turkey also pressures minorities, particularly the Kurds, against whom it wages wars inside and outside the country, the letter said.

The letter criticized Erdoğan for continuing what the signatories called the military occupation of Cyprus, a member of the European Union. The letter also accused the Turkish government of fuelling jihadism and anti-Semitism by inciting hatred against Israel.

The infringement of liberties inside Turkey has reached new heights, the letter added, pointing out that Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world and is holding some 55,000 political prisoners.

The signatories asked Macron to “show the necessary clarity to his ‘guest’ so that his presence could in no way be interpreted as a recognition of his methods, his governance, his regime, and his manifestations of violence that had no place in the message of the Armistice’s 100th anniversary.”

Philosopher Pascal Bruckner, film director Costa Gavras and French deputy Valérie Boyer, known as a strong advocate for Armenian issues, are among the signatories of the letter.

Meanwhile, the Coordinating Council of Armenian Organizations in France (CCAF) sent a separate letter to Macron to protest his invitation to Erdoğan, Deutsche Welle reported. The CCAF said that Erdoğan’s presence contradicted the spirit of the event.

The CCAF last week criticized a French deputy of Armenian descent, Jacques Marilossian, for attending the reception hosted by the Turkish ambassador to France on Oct. 29, the 95th anniversary of Turkey’s founding.

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