Why an Armenian Couple Is Naming Their Baby After Nicolas Sarkozy

By Giorgi Lomsadze

The two parents are really, really grateful for a French bill criminalizing denial of the Armenian genocide.

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Screenshot from a Radio Liberty video of the Armenian family. Watch it here. / RFE/RL

It's a photo shoot on a grey January day, and Sarkozy, wrapped in diapers and swaddled in blankets, is happily snoozing away. We are not talking about the actual French President Nicolas Sarkozy here, but, rather, his newborn namesake in faraway Armenia.

An Armenian couple has named their baby boy Sarkozy in gratitude to the French president for backing a bill that criminalizes the assertion that the World War I slaughter of ethnic Armenians in Ottoman-era Turkey was not an act of genocide.

Little Sarkozy Avetisian weighs three kilos and is 50 centimeters tall. You can see him in all his cuteness here. With an eye to ties with France and voters (Armenia's parliamentary elections are in May), Armenia's ruling Republican Party of Armenia joined the baby shower, and donated $200 to the Avetisians.  

But this is not the first instance of a French president inspiring baby names in Armenia. In 2001, when France under President Jacques Chirac recognized the Armenian killings as genocide, one grateful couple called their newborn twins Jacques and Chirac.

Meanwhile, Turkey, which denies that any genocide was committed, is quite literally slamming the French president in its rage over the bill. An online game, "Slap Sarkozy," has been released that allows irate Turks (or anyone) to vent their anger at the legislation by smacking the French leader silly.

This article originally appeared at EurasiaNet.org, an Atlantic partner site.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/01/why-an-armenian-couple-is-naming-their-baby-after-nicolas-sarkozy/252034/