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France Will Adopt Law Criminalizing Armenian Genocide Denial: Opinion from Yerevan

France’s tango has nothing to do with Armenia’s interests, said Yerevan-based political analyst Ruben Mehrabyan, in conversation with Epress.am and commenting on the French Constitutional Council ruling that determined the genocide denial bill approved by parliament last year and the Senate last month was unconstitutional.

“What’s important for Armenia is relations with Turkey. How long can we remain at the hope of the Russians?” he asked.

“Let this be a lesson for Armenia’s authorities not to get ahead of themselves and not appear in such a foolish situation. We, as citizens of the Republic of Armenia, when both the French parliament adopted the legislation and the Council then rejected it, should’ve shown restraint,” Mehrabyan added.

According to him, the Constitutional Council ruling is tied with the current domestic situation in France and France-Turkey relations.

Recalling the Algerian prime minister’s warning to his Turkish counterpart, that the blood shed by Algerians shouldn’t be made into a subject of political speculations, Mehrabyan, drawing parallels, said if Armenia’s authorities “had a little bit of dignity, they wouldn’t allow for similar speculations [to be made].”

According to Armenian Center for National and International Studies Director of Research Manvel Sargsyan, the French court ruling could’ve been predicted, by following the opinions voiced when the bill was being discussed in Senate — most notably, the view that the bill violates freedom of expression.

Recall, the Constitutional Court based its verdict on provisions of the “1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen,” the fundamental document of the French Revolution. It said the law was not in line with the declaration’s 6th and 11the articles, which highlight freedom of expression and thought, one of the main pillars of the democracy.

“Of course if there was discordance on the law inside the country, it would be more vulnerable to pressure from the outside. Most likely, there was also the factor of pressure from Turkey, as well as internal factors in France, and as in the case of initiating any other law, an issue of raising politicians’ ratings,” said Sargsyan.

Nevertheless, the analyst noticed France adopting the genocide bill is considered a matter of key importance, which is testified by the fact that French President Nicolas Sarkozy has already requested the government draft a new bill taking into consideration the Council’s decision.

“The French give more importance to this issue — they view it as an issue tied with the future of the state. Hence, they view the issue more seriously than Armenians. I think there will be another bill from France, which, of course, will be important in the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide,” he said.