PARIS—The French Senate on Wednesday did not consider a resolution that if passed would have criminalized the denial of the Armenian Genocide in France. The senate voted 196 to 74 to block a formal debate on the issue.
The French-Armenian community held a protest in front of the senate building, days after its representatives met with France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy who promised his government would not interfere in the vote.
A delegation of the Coordinating Council of Armenia Organization in France met with the French leader on Saturday at Elysee Palace to discuss the bill and Sarkozy’s position on the matter.
Sarkozy stated that the government would not interfere in Senate decision and guaranteed he would not oppose a vote in the Senate, essentially saying that he would allow senators affiliated with his party to vote their conscience. He also reiterated his position for the need to continue the struggle against Armenian Genocide denial.
France’s Budget Minister, François Baroin said the current legal arsenal in France was sufficient, hence the government would not support the bill, Agence France Presse reported Wednesday.
“The current law allows for proper response to these issues—Holocaust denial in general and the Armenian Genocide, in particular,” Baroin said at the Council of ministers.
The Armenian Youth Federation of France (FRA Nor Seround) led an appeal signed by top anti-racism and student groups in support of the Genocide law. The appeal was published in Tuesday’s Le Monde.
“France has publicly acknowledged the Armenian genocide with the law of January 29, 2001. French law also punishes any incitement to discrimination, hatred or racial violence and France still believes that the denial in all its forms is unacceptable,” he told reporters.
On October 12, 2006, the French National Assembly approved a bill penalizing denial of the Armenian Genocide. The bill needed the Senate’s consideration to be enforced.
Denial of the Armenian Genocide is considered a crime in Switzerland. Currently similar legislation is pending in several EU parliaments.