European-Armenian Federation Hails French Parliament Decision

PARIS–In a historic move, the French National Assembly has voted overwhelmingly to adopt a law imposing legal penalties on deniers of the Armenian Genocide. The legislation, introduced by Christophe Masse, Didier Migaud et Martine David (Socialist group), seeks "to counter the denial of the Armenian Genocide." The measure, adopted by a vote of 106 to 19, adds a second article to the 2001 law through which "France publicly acknowledges the Armenian genocide of 1915." In a direct reference to the law already in place imposing penalties for the denial of the Jewish Holocaust ("Loi Gayssot"), the measure approved this week states that, "those who contest the existence of the Armenian Genocide through methods recorded in its article 23 will be sanctioned through article 24-2 of the 28 July 1881 Law on the press liberty."We welcome this historical move, which demonstrates, once again, that France continues to lead the international community’s progress on human rights and the dignity on man. State-sponsored denial of genocide represents a calculated form of incendiary hate speech that threatens both public safety as well as the ability of society to organize itself, through open discourse, to prevent the repetition of genocides in the future. We offer our profound thanks to the individual political leaders and the broader movement that have moved this cause forward," said Hilda Tchoboian, the Chairperson of the European Armenian Federation. "We do hope that the Senate will adopt this same text in the very near future, so that this measure will become the law of France at the first opportunity," added Tchoboian. The European Armenian Federation notes with interest that the path to the adoption of this measure in France was paved by the recent electoral defeat of Armenian Genocide deniers in Belgium, the exclusion of Armenian Genocide deniers from electoral lists in the Netherlands, and the ban on Armenian Genocide denial demonstrations in Germany. "The time is now for a global European law that would penalize the Armenian Genocide denial, as well as the other Genocide denials occurring in Europe" concluded Tchoboian. The European Union on Friday criticized the French bill describing it as counterproductive at a critical stage in Turkey’s EU entry talks. "We don’t think that this decision at this moment is helpful in the context of the European Union’s relations with Turkey," European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said. "This is not the best way to contribute to something we think is important." EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said the bill, "instead of opening up the debate, would rather close it down, and thus have a negative impact."We don’t achieve real dialogue and real reconciliation by ultimatums, but by dialogue. Therefore, this law is counterproductive," Rehn told reporters. Rehn said it came at a bad time as the 25-member bloc was trying to avoid "a train crash" in negotiations with the predominantly Muslim nation. "The real issue now is to avoid a train crash because of a slowing down of the reform process (in Turkey) and because of Turkey not yet meeting its obligations" in EU entry requiremen’s, Rehn said. Barroso said "the very sensitive issue" of Armenia’should be made by "Turkish society itself."Frankly, we don’t think it is helpful that another parliament outside takes a legislative action on a matter of historical interpretation and analysis," he said. In response to criticism by the European Union, Tchoboian told Horizon Television Thursday that commen’s by European Union officials, as well as the committee overseeing Turkey’s entry into the EU are unacceptable "when they arise from Turkey’s membership in the EU."Their responsibility is to bring Turkey closer to European standards and not bring Europe closer to Turkey’s standards," said Tchoboian. "The European Union should adopt decisions made by the European Parliament and not attempt to make policies on Turkey’s membership or interfere in the internal affairs of European countries," added Tchoboian. Meanwhile in Yerevan, over a 100 young people organized a demonstration from the Opera square to the French Embassy in order to express their gratitude to the French Parliament for adopting the resolution. The participants of the demonstration called on other countries to follow the example of France and voiced hope that sooner or later Turkey will recognize the Genocide. After reaching the embassy complex, the participants of the demonstration read their letter of gratitude. Ambassador Henry Cuny came out and greeted the demonstrators.

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