As Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh are forced to flee their homes, is culture or corruption or something more sinister forcing a people to suffer so greatly a century after a genocide tried to wipe them out?
TURIN — When we hear that an animal is endangered, — maybe even at risk of being extinct — our collective outrage pushes us to defend its survival, passionately. And yet we can't seem to muster the willingness to do anything about the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The more than 100,000 Armenians who have left their land in a matter of days did not choose to abandon a land to which they have been attached for centuries, nor did they choose to abandon their ancient churches and monasteries, which will be destroyed with bulldozers. They were forced to do so to save their lives.
The European Union has not lifted a finger to protest against the Azerbaijanis or to stop the ethnic cleansing of an ancient people from the land they have occupied for millennia.
In fact, they insist on calling the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh separatists, adopting the Azerbaijani point of view. How can a people who have lived in that territory, without ever leaving it for 2,500 years, be considered separatist?
Suspicion of older traditions
Our shameful silence is born of a variety of reasons. The more obvious of these come from an economic and political standpoint: we need to buy gas from Azerbaijan, and we are dependent on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to not release waves of migrants into our borders.
But perhaps it also goes deeper. Perhaps there is a difficulty within us secularized Europeans to feel close to those ancient Christians, still passionately attached to their religious traditions. They are somewhat similar to us, and therefore represent an eastern outpost of a European culture to be defended.
But we are showing indifference to their fate, perhaps because from afar, it seems strange to us that they are so attached to their crosses with flowers, their strange and ancient rituals, and above all, that they are willing to die rather than renounce their faith. We see them as attached to something ancient and distant, which perhaps we consider folklore rather than a modern and respectable religion.
Even the Pope has always been weak in his defense of them.
The Azerbaijani government is already winning the sympathy of European politicians, bearing gifts of fantastic caviar — something Le Monde calls "caviar diplomacy." Could such lavish diplomacy have reached the Vatican as well?
VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis speaks during the General Congregation of the Synod of Bishops in a handout picture, provided by the Vatican Media Press Office.
Vatican Media Press Office Hando/ ZUMA
Turning a blind eye
If not caviar, then let's look at least to the money given for the restoration of the catacombs of Commodilla in Rome, and even the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. Or we could look towards some of the precious artistic assets donated by Azerbaijan, which are now preserved in St. Peter's Basilica. The extent of this history of generosity is such that in 2020, the wife of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev was awarded the highest Vatican honor, the Papal Order of Knighthood.
For the second time, Europe turns a blind eye to a crime against humanity.
Meanwhile, it seems that the pain of the Armenians irritates everyone; Europeans think that it is not our concern. But it should very well concern all of us: the Turks do not hide their plan to conquer the entirety of Armenia, considered a bothersome enclave wedged into the Islamic world.
The genocide project that seemed thwarted after World War I will thus find complete realization, right before our indifferent eyes.
For the second time in a century, Europe turns a blind eye to a crime against humanity, an attack on the survival of an entire people. The West is ready to even deny its own origins in order to avoid paying the price that courage demands.