Armenia Thanks France for Genocide Bill
PARIS — France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy dismissed on Friday Turkey’s furious reaction to the passage of a French bill criminalizing the denial of the Armenian Genocide, saying that Ankara cannot teach his country any “lessons.”
“I respect the views of our Turkish friends — it’s a great country, a great civilization — and they must respect ours,” the AFP news agency quoted Sarkozy as saying in Prague where he attended the funeral of late Czech President Vaclav Havel.
“France is not giving lessons to anyone but does not want them either,” he said.
“Under all circumstances, we must remain calm … France does not ask for permission, France has its convictions, human rights, and respect for memory,” added Sarkozy.
In remarks aired by French television, Sarkozy also cited that in 2001 the French parliament had recognized the Armenian Genocide.
“Ten years ago France adopted a law recognizing the Armenian genocide, the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians,” he said. “Now the question for the parliament was to know whether the recognition of this genocide should mean that those disputing it can be held accountable.
“This is what was decided by the National Assembly. You see, France has principles.”
Earlier on Friday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused France of committing genocide in its former colony Algeria and launched a personal attack on Sarkozy. “In Algeria from 1945, an estimated 15 percent of the population was massacred by the French. This is a genocide,” Erdogan said on live television, according to Reuters.
“If the French President Mr. Sarkozy doesn’t know about this genocide he should go and ask his father, Paul Sarkozy. His father served in the French Legion in Algeria in the 1940s. I am sure he would have lots to tell his son about the French massacres in Algeria,” the Turkish premier said.
AFP reported that France’s Foreign Minister Alain Juppe called on Turkey not to “overreact” to a bill that he insisted was a parliamentary initiative, and not a project of Sarkozy’s government.
“We have been accused of genocide! How could we not overreact?” the Turkish ambassador to France, Tahsin Burcuoglu, said before taking a flight home. “Turkey will never recognize this story of an Armenian genocide.”
Armenia Thanks France
Armenia on Friday again thanked France for the Genocide bill adopted by the parliament. In a letter to his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy, President Serzh Sarkisian said the French National Assembly demonstrated France’s devotion to “universal human values” when it approved a corresponding bill on Thursday.
According to the presidential press office, Sarkisian said the vote also testifies to Sarkozy’s personal commitment to strengthening “Armenian-French friendship,” eliminating “division lines” and “reconciling peoples” in the region.
Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian also thanked France in a statement issued immediately after the National Assembly in Paris voted to pass the bill criminalizing the denial of the Armenian and other genocides.