François Hollande Attends Annual Dinner with French Armenians

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PARIS (ArmRadio) — French President François Hollande participated in an annual dinner with the Coordinating Council of the Armenian Organizations of France (CCAF) on February 8.

In his last dinner with CCAF in the capacity of the President of France, François Hollande referred to the decision of the Constitutional Council to revoke certain amendments to the Equality and Citizenship Act, including those related to the criminalization of genocide denial, Nouvelles d’Armenie reports.

“To deny the massacres of yesterday is to authorize the massacres of today,” Hollande said. “I welcome the quality of the work of Jean-Paul Costa, which was the basis for an amendment during the debate on the Equality and Citizenship Act,” said François Hollande, and stressed that “it is necessary to continue to act.” He described it as “a fight for truth, not for a cause.”

He then announced that a mission was launched last October by France’s Minister of Education Najat Vallaud-Belkacem and chaired by Vincent Duclert to look for measures to “institute a day of National commemoration of all genocides, war crimes and thus the Armenian genocide.”

“France must support all initiatives of recognition of the Armenian Genocide, including also the initiatives in Turkey that must eventually move towards the direction of recognition,” Hollande said.

He attached importance to the Armenian Genocide resolution that passed in the German Bundestag in June 2016 and highlighted the role of Bundestag President Norbert Lammert and German Parliamentarian of Turkish origin Cem Ozdemir on this issue. “You have always put a difference between the Turkish state and the Turkish people on this issue,” Hollande said.

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He recalled the courage of Armenian member of the Turkish Parliament Garo Paylan on raising the Genocide issue in Parliament.

Hollande also commented on his recent visit to Turkey, marking the 10th anniversary of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink’s murder. During his visit, he met Dink’s widow, Rakel.

“So what is our duty, the duty of France in this matter? We must support all initiatives aimed at the Genocide recognition, no matter from where they come and whatever they are. And it is important that this issue must be raised in Turkey that must move towards the direction of recognition. A number of countries are together with us to promote this issue,” Hollande said.

Hollande also announced his plans to discuss Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with President Serzh Sargsyan during his visit to Paris in March.

“France bears special responsibility for this issue as a Minsk Group Co-chair country together with the US and Russia. We are in haste, and haste really exists, to find a solution to this issue since the dreadful incidents of April 2-4 of the last year reminded us that every day or nearly every day a death cases is recorded in Karabakh. Therefore, we have to act to prevent clashes,” Hollande said.

“Clashes are over, dialogue has started and ceasefire is reached but we cannot be satisfied by a ceasefire, since it is not a solution. We have to launch real talks aimed at the conflict resolution. It will be a huge mistake to think that the situation has stabilized. We have to refer to the elements necessary for the conflict settlement enshrined in the Madrid principles. We also know that when those principles are applied, they should be based on the right to self-determination of Nagorno Karabakh and for the purpose of taking this path France will organize a new meeting with Armenia and Azerbaijan,” Hollande stressed.

Topics: France

“2017 marks the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between France and Armenia. I invited President Sargsyan to pay an official visit to Paris. It will take place on March 8, Women’s Day. It will provide an opportunity to discuss economic, cultural and academic co-operation, to hold discussions on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, because France has a special responsibility,” he said.

Lastly, he stressed the contribution of the French Armenians to France, saying, “We are here to talk about the best of France. Because you are the best of France.”

“Even beyond the month of May, I will always be at your side, as I have always been. I will not have the same responsibility, but I will have the same conviction,” Hollande concluded.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo announced during the dinner her intentions of awarding Paylan with the Medal of City of Paris.

In her speech, Hidalgo also commented on her visit to Armenia saying, “It’s very rare for me to have such a clear feeling of true identical culture in another city.” At the same time, she stressed she is stunned by the modernity of Yerevan, namely by her visit to TUMO center. “Upon departing, I thought what can Paris give to Yerevan, upon returning I thought how can Yerevan convey its innovative ideas and dynamics to Paris,” Hidalgo said.