PARIS — French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday met with representatives of French-Armenian organizations in an event dedicated to pay to Arsene Tchakarian, 95, the last survivor of the Manouchian resistance group, who fought against occupying Nazi German forces during World War II. Tchakarian was awarded with the medal of Officer of the Legion of Honor by President Sarkozy at the Elysee Palace gathering (see photo). The event brought together Armenia’s Ambassador to France, Vigen Chitechyan; Hauts-de-Seine Department Council Chairman, Patrick Devedjian; film producer Alain Terzian; world-renowned singer Charles Aznavour’s impresario, Levon Sayan; and others. .
Prior to the ceremony while meeting with representatives of the Coordination Council of Armenian Organizations of France, Sarkozy reconfirmed his commitment to introduce a new bill that criminalizes the denial of genocides, including the Armenian Genocide. He stressed that he will introduce this law proposal once he is reelected president.
“Despite the decision of the Constitutional Council, I am not resigned. The Armenian community, like others, has the right to be protected against [genocide] denialism by the law,” Sarkozy told about 100 prominent members of France’s Armenian community during an award ceremony late on Wednesday.
“So I have asked the government to prepare a new text. I can assure you of my desire to push it through, and I renew this solemn pledge in front of you,” he said in a speech at the presidential Elysee Palace in Paris.
“To all you whose families were decimated by an absolutely planned extermination, to all you who regard today as a threat the obstinate [Turkish] denialism turned into state policy, I want to tell that France is on your side to refuse, to fight and to suppress the unacceptable,” Sarkozy added.
Sarkozy first pledged to again try to criminalize Armenian Genocide denial just hours after the French court ruled on February 28 that the controversial bill infringes on the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression.
Sarkozy’s UMP party cautioned afterwards that a new bill will not be put forward before June because of France’s upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections. The French National Assembly has already completed its tenure for that reason.