With French elections scheduled for April 2022, the primary events have been deciding on their candidates to face for the workplace of president. The political journalist and essayist Éric Zemmour has shot into public consciousness together with his new motion, which he calls “Reconquête” (Reconquest). He not too long ago visited Armenia to underline his overtly xenophobic and anti-immigrant program.
However why Armenia? The Armenian diaspora in France numbers roughly a half-million, equal to lower than one % of the overall inhabitants. Nevertheless, it has at all times had a spot within the political calculations of the elite that’s disproportionate to its dimension. That is partially as a result of Armenian Christians exterior France have lengthy been symbolic for the conservative Catholic proper in France.
Nonetheless, it’s tough to think about a latest time when their presence on the French public scene has been so marked as has not too long ago been the case. In fact, that is partly accounted for by the catastrophic lack of the Second Karabakh Conflict, which resulted from the dead-end into which the “Karabakh clan” (of former presidents Robert Kocharyan and Serzh Sargsyan) had led the nation, mixed with the deleterious affect of the extremist diaspora, significantly in the USA.
However Zemmour’s go to is a particular case. Up to now, presidential candidates have courted Armenians in France, however none has gone thus far to go to Armenia itself. Much more unusually, voices had been raised from Armenia and in France in protest towards Zemmour’s apparent instrumentalization of the query. Valérie Pécresse, the candidate of “Les Républicains” (The Republicans), adopted him a couple of days later.
Zemmour has entertained ludicrous political positions opposite to historic reality. He has insisted that it was Russian and never American troops that liberated France on the finish of World Conflict II, and that the Vichy regime below Marshal Pétain protected French Jews below German occupation relatively than facilitating their switch to focus camps and loss of life in Germany. He has additionally acknowledged that what differentiates him from different candidates on the correct is that he needs not merely to control immigration into France however to remove it.
Zemmour’s extraordinary go to to Yerevan was his first overseas journey after his official declaration of candidacy. The query arises of the similarity between Zemmour’s political program for France and the equally xenophobic program that the Karabakh clan applied in Armenia below Kocharyan and Sargsyan between 1998 and 2018. Their ideology of “Tseghakronism” originated towards the top of the nineteenth century and was reformulated within the early twentieth century by the Armenian Nazi collaborator Garegin Nzhdeh. Tsegakronism bears a superficial resemblance to the “political theology“ of the nineteenth-century Italian nationalist Giuseppe Mazzini; nevertheless, it’s extra tribal than that precursor to Italian fascism.
The phrase “Tseghakron” combines the Armenian phrases for “race” and “faith.” Tseghakronism’s foremost instructing includes seven “cults,” because it calls them. These are the cults of: (1) the Fatherland—particularly its geographical extent—on which the state is constructed; (2) blood, which is claimed to find out the non secular and bodily traits of the Armenian “race,” of which the “purity” is critical for the sake of its future; (3) language, which to talk is required to be a real Armenian; (4) “the fallen,” who’ve died for Armenia; (5) one’s ancestors, i.e. the continuity from one technology to the following, manifesting the organicism of the actual “clan”—i.e., the composite of prolonged households of a single family tree—inside the nation; (6) energy, as it’s the robust who win; and (7) the chief, each of the clan and of the nation, in whose fingers which the future of the individuals lies.
Zemmour’s political declarations are diverse, so it’s tough to assign precisely which of those facets might characterize his political particular person. It’s affordable to say, nevertheless, that the factors (1) Fatherland and (3) language definitely characterize his program. Factors (2) blood and (4) “the fallen” do additionally, though not with the non secular depth of the Armenian ideology, which additionally identifies them with the Armenian Apostolic church. Zemmour’s program additionally endorses (6) energy as a common political precept, whereas (5) ancestors and (7) the cult of the chief are largely absent, significantly the primitivistic reference to “clan.”
There may be, thus, a sure parallel between Zemmour’s program for France and the Armenian program of Tseghakronism for Armenia, even when Zemmour locations himself in a post-Jacobin framework that mixes parts of republicanism and empire by means of his self-identification as each a Gaullist and a Bonapartist.
However why Armenians ought to object to Zemmour’s pro-Armenia advocacy continues to be a query. They’ve by no means prior to now objected to any French politician embracing their trigger. Certainly, they raised no objection the go to by Pécresse, who, in keeping with some experiences, additionally visited Khankendi, transiting the Azerbaijani border with out a visa through the Russian-controlled Lachin Hall.
It’s laborious to know for sure why Armenian objections are raised solely towards Zemmour, however his Jewishness could also be a purpose. He’s the son of Berber Jews who had French citizenship and fled Algeria within the Fifties throughout the civil battle there; and it’s identified from skilled public-opinion surveys that Armenia is the second-most antisemitic nation in Europe.
It’s tough to learn the tea-leaves over three months earlier than the French elections are held, however it doesn’t at current look doubtless that Zemmour survives to the second spherical run-off. Regardless of an preliminary surge of recognition, he’s now, amongst credible candidates on the correct, behind Pécresse (who represents Nicolas Sarkozy’s previous celebration, though Sarkozy himself has hinted that he’ll the truth is tilt towards Emmanuel Macron) and Marine Le Pen of the “Rassemblement nationwide” (Nationwide Rally, previously the “Entrance nationwide” or Nationwide Entrance).
Nevertheless, Zemmour additionally has an odd friendship with excessive left-wing Jean-Luc Mélenchon of the group “La France insoumise” (actually, Unsubmissive France). Macron is within the lead over all of them, however the six candidates talked about on this article collectively cowl solely 83 % of the voters in keeping with the newest ballot, so there may be lots of jockeying nonetheless to be achieved. One certitude, nevertheless, is that not one of the candidates will ever criticize Armenia.
Robert M. Cutler is a Fellow of the Canadian International Affairs Institute.
The views expressed on this article are these of the authors alone and don’t essentially replicate these of Geopoliticalmonitor.com