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Europe

Armenian couple name baby Sarkozy as genocide bill row rumbles on

media Armenia's Minister of Foreign Affairs Edward Nalbandian has welcomed the … Reuters/Ints Kalnins

An Armenian couple have named their new-born baby Sarkozy as a tribute to the French parliament’s approval of a law making it illegal that genocide of Armenians took place in Turkey in 1915.

“Let our child, Sarkozy Avetissian, become as brave and just a man” as the French president, declared his grandmother, Alvard Manoukian, when explaining the choice to journalists.

France's Armenian genocide bill explained

“We were going to give him the name of his grandfather but, after the French Senate passed this law in spite of the Turks’ threats, we decided to baptise him in honour of the French president,” the father, Karapet Avetisyan, told local television.

News of the bill’s approval has been enthusiastically received in Armenia.

Turkish public television on Thursday aired the first episode of the nine-hour documentary Shoah, by French director Claude Lanzmann, about the Holocaust against the Jews, the first broadcast of its kind by national media in a Muslim state.

“It is a very important mechanism to prevent future crimes against humanity,” Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said during a visit to Latvia.

President Nicolas Sarkozy will sign the bill into law within 15 days, the Elysée Palace has announced with officials pointing out that previous boycotts announced by the Turks – in 2001 when a law declaring that genocide had taken place was passed and in 2006 when the current bill was first mooted – have not seriously disrupted bilateral trade.

But 33 members of Sarkozy’s own party, the UMP, have joined Senators from six parties in an appeal to the Constitutional Council to block the bill and the Franco-Turkish Chamber of Commerce has called for it to be invalidated.

Foreign Minister Alain Juppé has described the bill as “unhelpful and counterproductive”, appealing to “our Turkish friends” to keep their cool.

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