There was a festive mood outside the French embassy in Yerevan as Armenians celebrated the passing of a French law making it illegal to deny that the killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks was genocide.
Many expressed their gratitude to France and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose party first proposed the bill. Sarkozy also received a letter from Armenia’s President Serzh Sargsyan.
Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandyan said the French decision was important for history: “This day will be written in gold, not only in the history of friendship between the Armenian and French peoples, but also in the annals of history for the protection of human rights worldwide, and will further consolidate the existing mechanisms of prevention of crimes against humanity.”
All political groups in Armenia, whether in government or opposition, have welcomed the decision made by the French Senate on Monday night after more than seven hours of debate.
The French ambassador to Armenia, Henri Renaud, was warmly received by the crowd outside the embassy, where many shook his hand and patted him on the back.
A student outside the embassy said he was there to express his gratitude: “Today we are together in front of the French embassy in Armenia to thank the French people, who, without putting economic interests first, adopted the law that will invigorate the relationship between French and Armenian people.”
Waving flags, and chanting ‘merci’, the crowd outside the embassy also brought banners and postcards saying ‘France is the Protector of Historical Justice’ and ‘France is our Friend’.