The Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian issued a statement welcoming the adoption of the bill. “With this step, France reaffirms its valuable role in the condemnation of past genocides and in the fight against their denial, as well as in the issue of preventing possible new crimes against humanity,” the statement reads.
In July, the National Assembly–the lower house of France’s legislature–passed a similarly-worded measure.
The two houses of France’s parliament passed a law criminalizing Armenian Genocide denial in December 2011 and January 2012. The move was initiated by French President Francois Hollande’s predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy. However, France’s constitutional court struck down the law claiming that it compromises freedom of speech.
The French National Assembly first recognized the Armenian Genocide in 2001. The first step towards recognition occurred in 1998. A private bill, inspired by the election pledge of Lionel Jospin, who was running for president in 1995, was put on the agenda of the National Assembly in 1997 by politicians Jean-Paul Bret, the president of the France-Armenia group, Didier Migaud, René Rouquet, and all members of the Socialist Party. The parliamentary majority was in favor of the law and the first debate took place on May 29, 1998, in front of the Foreign Affairs Committee.
After years of debate, the law passed on Jan. 18, 2001. The bill contained one article: “France publicly recognizes the 1915 Genocide of the Armenians.”