Armenia on Friday again thanked France for moving to make it a crime to deny that the 1915 Armenian massacres in Ottoman Turkey amounted to genocide.
In a letter to his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy, President Serzh Sarkisian said the French National Assembly demonstrated France’s devotion to “universal human values” when it approved a corresponding bill on Thursday.
According to the presidential press office, Sarkisian said the vote also testifies to Sarkozy’s personal commitment to strengthening “Armenian-French friendship,” eliminating “division lines” and “reconciling peoples” in the region.
Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian also thanked France in a statement issued immediately after the National Assembly in Paris voted to pass the bill criminalizing the denial of the Armenian and other genocides.
In his letter, Sarkisian stressed the fact that the vote came more than two months after Sarkozy’s “historic visit” to Armenia.
During that trip the French leader laid flowers at the Armenian Genocide Memorial in Yerevan and repeatedly urged Turkey to stop denying a premeditated government effort to annihilate the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire. He also signaled support for the idea of criminalizing genocide denial which has been championed by leaders of France’s influential Armenian community.
“The genocide of Armenians is a historic reality that was recognized by France. Collective denial is even worse than individual denial,” Sarkozy said at the time.
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 said.