ARMENIA “GENOCIDE” BILL MEETS RESISTANCE IN FRENCH SENATE
Jan 18 2012
Jan. 18–PARIS — A group of French senators on Wednesday rejected
a bill that would make it a crime to deny that Armenians suffered
“genocide” at the hand of Ottoman Turks.
The Commission of Laws of the Senate, which reviews texts before
they are debated, said the bill that will be put to vote on Monday
was unconstitutional. The head of the commission, Jean-Pierre Sueur,
said it was not parliament’s role to impose a reading of history.
However the bill is still expected to pass, having broad support in
the 343-member Senate, beyond the 49-member commission.
The lower house of parliament has already adopted the bill, which
punishes denial of genocides recognized by France by up to a year in
prison and 45,000 euros (57,000 dollars) in fines.
France officially recognizes two genocides: the Nazi Holocaust of
Jews during World War II and the killing of between 300,000 and 1.5
million Armenians in eastern Turkey between 1915 and 1917.
Turkey denies that the killings, which took place during World War I,
constituted genocide, saying there was no systematic policy to destroy
the Armenian community.
The adoption by the National Assembly in December provoked an angry
response from Turkey, which suspended all contact with France and
recalled its ambassador from Paris for consultations.
Further punitive measures are expected if the bill passes the Senate.
The approval of the Senate is now necessary for it to become law.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused French
President Nicolas Sarkozy of using the bill to try win the support
of France’s small but influential Armenian community ahead of this
year’s presidential and parliamentary elections.