Sarkozy. Hasn't given up
Photo: MCT
Armenian protester in Paris
Photo: EPA
Armenian genocide 1915

French court rules genocide law unconstitutional

Sarkozy says will ask government to prepare new bill concerning 1915 mass killings of Armenians. Turkish FM welcomes ruling

France's Constitutional Council ruled Tuesday that a French law concerning the mass killings of Armenians a century ago violates the country's constitution.


French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who had personally backed the law, immediately said he would ask the government to prepare a new bill taking into account the council's ruling.


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The law passed by France's parliament in December makes it a crime to deny that the killings of some 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915 constituted genocide. The council ruled the law would violate freedom of expression and speech, which are guaranteed by the French constitution.


סרקוזי הודיע שיגיש חוק חדש: "ההכחשה - בלתי נסבלת" (צילום: AFP)

Sarkozy. Preparing new bill (Photo: AFP)


Turkey, which says there was no systematic campaign against Armenians, has strongly opposed the French law.


The head of a French Armenian organization, meanwhile, sharply criticized the ruling, saying it was the result of Turkish lobbying.


Relations between France and Turkey have suffered since the law's passage, with Turkey suspending its military and economic cooperation with France after the lower house approval of the measure in December. The French Senate gave the law the green light in late January.


"We have been totally outraged by the Constitutional Council's decision at its very core, which is based on politics rather than on legal grounds," said Franck Mourad Papazian, president of the Council of Coordination of Armenian Organizations in France.


The measure had also sowed divisions in France, with some lawmakers expressing some of the same concerns as Ankara, notably that not allowing people to deny that the mass killings of Armenians nearly a century ago was genocide impinges on freedom of expression.


מפגינים טורקים נגד חוק ההכחשה. זכו במבוקשם (צילום: EPA)

Turks protest genocide law (Photo: EPA)


Turkey's foreign minister welcomed the decision, saying it was "pleasing that a grave mistake has been corrected by France's highest legal body."


In a written statement, Ahmet Davutoglu said he hopes France adopts "a constructive approach in regard to the handling of the conflict between Turkey and Armenia in a just and scientific manner and contributes to its solution rather than deepening it."


"Such an approach would contribute to improvement of Turkish-French relations in every field," Davutoglu said.


France's relations with Turkey were already strained, in large part because Sarkozy opposes Turkey's entry into the European Union.


Sarkozy's office said in a statement he recognized the "immense disappointment and profound sadness" of the law's supporters. Sarkozy said he will meet soon with representatives of France's Armenian community, many of whom had welcomed the law's passage with a swell of relief.




פרסום ראשון: 02.28.12, 21:50
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