For Immediate Release
Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
tel: (202) 775-1918
FRENCH SENATE APPROVES ARMENIAN GENOCIDE RESOLUTION
Senate Votes 164 to 40 to Adopt Measure
After Four Hour debate
Paris, France – Following a heated four hour debate that lasted until 5:30 this morning, the French Senate — resisting intense pressure from the Turkish Government — adopted a measure publicly recognizing the Armenian Genocide.
Commenting on the victory, Armenian National Committee of France Chairman Ara Krikorian said, “This is a victory for the French people, the Armenian people and all mankind.” The ANC-France and the broad-based April 24th Committee worked together for several years to secure support for this resolution at the national and local levels. At the time of the vote, over 1,000 Armenians were present at a vigil outside the Senate building.
Overcoming strong opposition by the Senate leadership to the scheduling of a vote on the initiative, Senators supporting the recognition of the Armenian Genocide voted to discuss the resolution as part of the “urgent issues” agenda item. This sparked several hours of debate and a flurry of amendments designed to either weaken or kill the resolution. One amendment, which urged that the Armenian Genocide issue be left to historians, was overwhelmingly defeated by a vote of 168 to 54.
Armenian Genocide bill proponents, Senators Gilbert Charboux, Bernard Piras, and Gerard Collomb were among those speaking forcefully in support of the measure, while the Senate’s France-Turkey Friendship Caucus Chairman Jacques-Richard Delong led the opposition. The measure was finally adopted by the Senate, the upper house of the French Parliament, by a vote of 164 for, 40 against and 4 abstentions.
The French Assembly, the lower house of the Parliament, had adopted a similar resolution on May 29, 1998. Since that time, the French Government and Senate leadership have obstructed efforts to schedule the measure for a vote in the Senate, citing concern about its effects on France-Turkey relations. In the weeks leading up to today’s vote, Turkish President Sezer warned French President Jacques Chirac that passage of the resolution would negatively impact diplomatic relations between the two countries. A delegation of Turkish parliamentarians had traveled to Paris to lobby against the measure. Similar tactics were used, successfully, by the Turkish government to block a vote on an Armenian Genocide resolution this October in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“We welcome this historic vote by the French Senate as an important step toward ending Turkey’s shameful campaign to deny the Armenian Genocide,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “As Armenian Americans, we applaud the French Senate for standing up to the Turkish government’s campaign of threats, lies, and intimidation. We are already working to help ensure that the incoming U.S. Administration and Congress will do the same.”
Following Senate passage, the resolution must again be considered by the French Assembly and, upon approval, will go to President Jacques Chirac for signature.