Armenia on Thursday promptly thanked France’s government and parliament for enacting a bill that criminalizes the denial of the Armenian genocide.
In a written statement issued just minutes after the bill’s adoption by the French National Assembly, Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said France has “once again proved its commitment to human values.”
“On this occasion, I would like to once again express gratitude to France’s supreme leadership, the National Assembly and all French people,” he said.
“Having recognized the Armenian Genocide with a law ten years ago, the French people have demonstrated that human rights are a supreme value. And by adopting this bill
today they have reaffirmed that statutes of limitations do not extend to crimes against humanity and that their denial is subject to unequivocal condemnation,” added Nalbandian.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy signaled support for the bill and effectively predetermined its passage by the lower house of France’s parliament when he visited Armenia in October. Sarkozy made a point of laying flowers at the Armenian Genocide Memorial in Yerevan together with his Armenian counterpart, Serzh Sarkisian.
During the two-day state visit Sarkozy repeatedly urged Turkey to stop denying a premeditated government effort to annihilate the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire. “The genocide of Armenians is a historic reality that was recognized by France. Collective denial is even worse than individual denial,” he said.
Turkish leaders condemned the remarks, accusing the French president of pandering to ethnic Armenian voters to win reelection next year.
By contrast, Sarkisian praised Sarkozy when he visited France’s second largest city of Marseille earlier this month. “We must simply be grateful to the wise president of this beautiful country,” he told a mostly French-Armenian audience.
Sarkisian also urged the Turks to “repent” for the World War I-era slaughter of some 1.5 Armenians.