PARIS–The French Senate–once again–rejected Wednesday to consider a resolution–co-sponsored by 52 senators– recognizing the Armenian Genocide.
In a vote of 170 to 130 the measure to discuss the Genocide resolution was defeated. The Republican party of France voted against the consideration of the bill–while the Socialist bloc voted in favor of adopting the resolution.
Following the vote–chairman of the Armenian National Committee of France–Ara Kevorkian announced that he and the chairman of the April 24 committee met with French Senate chairman Christian Ponselet Tuesday. According to Kevorkian–Ponselet said while he–personally–was in favor of the passage of the resolution–he is forced to follow the lead of president Jaques Chirac.
Kevorkian added that efforts to garner recognition for the Genocide will accelerate and a larger demonstration was being planned for April 24.
The French National Assembly passed a resolution in May 1998 which simply stated–"France recognizes the Armenian Genocide." The same measure was up for a vote in the senate.
French minister Pierre Moskovich attended the session and told senators that the government opposed the passage of the Genocide resolution. The minister added that the government did not wish to threaten peace in the Caucasus by passage of such a resolution.
In its Wednesday issue–the Turkey-based Cumhurriyet newspaper excerpted quotes from the Armenian press which reported on an announcement issued by several political parties in Armenia–urging the immediate expulsion of France’s Ambassador to Armenia Michel Legras.
The parties urged Armenia’s foreign ministry to declare Legras persona non-grata and recall Armenia’s ambassador to France until this matter is resolved.
The Armenian foreign ministry responded by saying that the said parties did not represent Armenia’s public opinion.
Sources in France assert that Chirac’s direct pressure on the Republican party to reject the resolution has played a major role in Wednesday’s vote.
The Paris-based Liberation newspaper devoted an entire page to the Genocide resolution crisis–and grills the senate for its failure to recognize the Armenian Genocide. The newspaper asks–"how can a measure which was passed by the National Assembly–be rejected by the Senate?"
The newspaper continued its attack on the French government by saying that while leftist forces in France were fighting for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide–right-wing forces were revising history.
More than 1000 community members gathered Monday in front of the regional legislature in Lyon–to protest against the French Senate’s rejection of the Armenian Genocide Commemoration bill–in a demonstration organized by the Rhone-Alps Armenian Genocide Commemorative Committee and the Armenian National Committee of France.
The political delegation of Lyons and Rhone-Alps–across political parties–gave its support to the demonstrators–citing the blackmail of Turkey as intolerable. Senateor–as well as many municipal elected officials and general advisers–each in turn severely criticized the pressures exerted by the French President and the Foreign Minister on the Senators aimed at burying the measure of France’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide. The writer Philippe Videlier denounced the fallacious argument of the senatorial right that the Senate should not legislate history.
A delegation of protest organizers–accompanied by the senators–deputies and mayors–was received by the chief of cabinet of the regional governor. The delegation strongly affirmed the will of the demonstrators to put an end to the shameful attitude of the Senate–which if maintained would be comparable–to that of the Collaboration at the time of the Second World War.