Political Scientist Hayk A. Martirosyan: “The phenomenon of Aznavour is greater than Aznavour the diplomat, the man, or the citizen”
Did Charles Aznavour, Armenia’s Ambassador to Switzerland, give an interview to the Turkish newspaper Posta on November 2 and say the following?
“I don’t act according to the instructions of Armenia”; “Turks have a conscience”; “It’s futile to dredge up past events that took place during the Ottoman period”
Did Aznavour, in an earlier meet in Paris with Turkish producer Erkan Özerman and Turkey’s Ambassador to France Hakkı Akil, accept an award called the Golden Maple?
Well, it all seems to depend on whom you ask.
Armenia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in its Facebook page, denies that Aznavour gave Posta an interview or accepted any award. In his twitter page Armenia’s Foreign Ministry Tigran Balayan writes that Aznavour “denied having giving such an interview and that he feels insulted for being manipulated in such a manner.” Balayan also writes that the ‘award’ was actually a souvenir from the Turkish town of Izmit, where Aznavour’s mother came from.
According to civilnet.am, Özerman told the where the meeting took place (Le Petit Pergolese restaurant) and that Aznavour knew that his remarks where for press use. Özerman also alleges that Aznavour did say such things. The news editor at Posta also told civilnet.am that it was impossible to find any news in the paper not corresponding to reality.
So there you have it folks – six of one and half a dozen of the other. Needless to say, the entire affair is big news in Armenia, especially in the diplomatic corps, as is being dissected by a host of analysts of all stripes and levels of professionalism.
To make some sense of it all, Hetq spoke to Hayk A. Martirosyan,who received his PhD in Political Science at the Sorbonne. Martirosyan, who now resides in New York, spent many years in France and is an acquaintance of Aznavour’s.
When Hetq asked Martirosyan if he thought that Aznavour’s words might have been altered, he said that it’s possible to a small degree but not in the main.
“Aznavour is known as an ultra-liberal, ultra-tolerant person with ultra-French views. And he’s expressed such thoughts in the past,” Martirosyan told Hetq.
The political scientist said he couldn’t understand why an ambassador of Armenia should meet with a Turkish ambassador and make confessions of love towards Turkey and the Turks.
“Yes, it’s true that Aznavour never gave an interview to anyone in Turkey or Paris. However, I cannot rule out the possibility that they got Aznavour talking and recorded the conversation and later presented it as an interview,” Martirosyan told Hetq, adding that even the Turkish producer had hinted that this was the case.
As to whether Aznavour said that his mother was a Turk and his father, a Georgian, Martirosyan said he was convinced that Aznavour was employing the linguistic mentality now dominating in France where migrants from other nations are labeled as French after receiving citizenship. Thus, Aznavour might have said such a thing given that his mother was a citizen of the Ottoman Empire and that his father lived in Georgia.
“But Aznavour, by saying his mother was a Turk did not mean to say that she was ethnically Turkish; not at all. It’s noteworthy that when speaking about his mother’s friend, Aznavour stressed that she was Turkish. He did that to differentiate what he said about his mother,” Martirosyan said.
As to the dinner at the restaurant and the statement by Armenia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs that Aznavour accepted an award, even though an Armenian media outlet has published a photo of him holding something akin to an award, Martirosyan said that the foreign ministry was not present at the dinner and that its statement denying the acceptance of any award is purely based on the assurances given by Aznavour himself.
“There is no basis for the foreign ministry not to believe Aznavour. But the problem is that Aznavour, and I’m certain of this, wasn’t aware that they were giving him an award and assumed it was just some gift. That was his serious mistake. But I have no grounds to suspect that Aznavour lied to the foreign ministry,” Martirosyan told Hetq.
As to the other statements allegedly made by Aznavour, Martirosyan said that if certain passages of the conversation are in fact true, the famous Armenian should have expressed more pro-Armenian and pro-national positions. Martirosyan added that in this case one must take into account the singer’s advanced age.
“I believe that Aznavour needs some well-deserved rest. The man is a musical and poetic genius and he must simply be kept far removed from worldly concerns and obligations,” Martirosyan said.
The political scientist concluded by arguing that Aznavour, a national hero of Armenia, must remain in his true place – on the pedestal of glory and in the annals of art.
“The great artist has nothing to do amongst the sullied back stages of international politics. The phenomenon of Aznavour is greater than Aznavour the diplomat, the man, or the citizen. That phenomenon is on another plane and level and, despite certain occurrences, it must remain inviolable,” Martirosyan said.
Top photo (from right): Erkan Özerman, Hakkı Akil, Charles Aznavour (civilnet.am)
Second photo: Hayk Martirosyan