By Harut Sassounian


Last month, when German life insurance companies requested a rehearing
from a Federal Court of Appeals, contesting its decision in favor of
Armenian claimants, the Republic of Turkey filed an "amicus curiae"
(friend of the court) petition in support of the German defendants.

This was an intriguing development. The heirs of now deceased Armenian
policyholders were suing German insurance companies; and Turkey -- not
a party to the lawsuit -- was shamelessly siding with the delinquent
firms. No one was demanding payment from the Turkish government! Why
would Turkey, a foreign country, interfere in a U.S. lawsuit against
German companies?

The Turkish petition is a 15-page-long propaganda piece that denies
the facts of the Armenian Genocide. It describes the United States
and Turkey as working "shoulder-to-shoulder," adding that 120,000
Turks reside in the United States, and that 700,000 Americans visit
Turkey every year. The Turkish brief does not explain, however, how
any of these assertions have any relevance to the failure of German
insurance companies to compensate the heirs of Armenian policyholders.

The Turkish petition attacks the California law extending the statute
of limitations on Armenian claims against insurance companies by
heirs of genocide victims. It alleges that the California statute
"offends Turkey~Rs sovereignty by legislating Turkish history and
by declaring Turkey and its predecessor state guilty of the crime
of genocide." The petition goes on to state: "Turkey resents having
any U.S. legislature or other official formulate its own definition
of genocide specifically to declare that Turkey or its predecessor
state is guilty of this crime." Ironically, the Turkish government
never expressed any resentment or complaint when 42 U.S. states
and many American cities were recognizing the Armenian Genocide in
recent decades. Ankara justified its inaction by claiming that its
counterpart is the federal government, not individual states or cities.

The Turkish petition lamely claims that foreign states can not "monitor
and react to the individual actions of fifty state legislatures and
governors. Rather, Turkey~Rs interlocutor with the fifty United States
is the U.S. federal government." It then quotes from Turkish Ambassador
Nabi Sensoy~Rs letter to the Court of Appeals on December 4, 2008,
stating that "Turkey has not as such protested state proclamations
on this historic controversy because it conducts it (sic) foreign
affairs directly with the U.S. Federal Government, primarily the
Executive Branch. We do not have similar relations with the states."

The petition falsely refers to the Genocide as "mutual suffering of
Ottoman Armenians and Turks" and "wartime misery." It flippantly
dismisses Pres. Reagan~Rs 1981 Proclamation acknowledging the
Armenian Genocide, and omits any reference to the two Congressional
resolutions of 1975 and 1984 recognizing the Genocide. Instead, the
Turkish government proudly proclaims that no new resolutions were
adopted on this subject during the Obama administration!

The Turkish government drops a bombshell by revealing in its petition
that Prime Minister Erdogan had written to Pres. Obama on December
19, 2010, complaining about the Federal Appeals Court~Rs decision
that "the position of the US administration is not against the
recognition of ~Qgenocide~R at the state or federal level." This is
yet another blatant attempt by a foreign leader to intervene in US
court proceedings.

Interestingly, the petition discloses only a portion of Erdogan~Rs
letter to Obama, claiming that "the balance of this letter constitutes
a confidential diplomatic communication."

The appeals court should either reject the Turkish petition as
unwarranted interference by a foreign power in American judicial
proceedings or demand the release of the full text of Erdogan~Rs letter
to verify the accuracy of the quoted portion and to confirm if it
includes any other reference to the lawsuit. The Turkish government
cannot hide behind "diplomatic confidentiality," as it has waived
the claim of "privileged communication" by selectively disclosing
portions of the letter.

In their petition, Turkish officials make the misleading suggestion
that the Armenia-Turkey Protocols, signed over a year ago, "will
seek to overcome all hurdles in their present relations, and jointly
consider the historic controversy." The authors of the disingenuous
Turkish petition cleverly conceal from federal judges the fact that
they have not ratified the Protocols and have no intention to do so.

Ankara is attempting to exploit the now defunct Protocols to quash
a legitimate lawsuit against German insurance companies.

The Turkish government has attached two letters to its petition, one
signed by its Ambassador to the U.S., and the other by the Chairman
of the Turkish Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee. The Federal
Appeals Court should promptly disregard both letters, along with the
petition, as propaganda materials lacking any legal merit or standing.

From: A. Papazian