Working visit of President Serzh Sargsyan to France
President Serzh Sargsyan, who is in the French Republic on a working visit on October 1 met with the President of France François Hollande. At the beginning of the meeting, Serzh Sargsyan thanked the President of France for the warm welcome and noted that he was greatly pleased to once again visit friendly France.
The President of Armenia noted with satisfaction that the Armenian-French relations, which are nourished by the close historical relations of the two nations, in last twenty years have been developing steadily, reaching the highest point in their history. According to the President, Armenian-French friendship is so deep, comprehensive and multifaceted that it would be difficult to define it in one or two sentences.
In Serzh Sargsyan’s words, such quality of relations was achieved by our countries thanks to a regular high-level dialogue, including the reciprocal visits of the Armenian and French Presidents, close interparliamentary cooperation, dynamic cultural, educational and scientific interaction, as well as through the regular contacts between the responsible officials from different areas.
The President noted that in recent years in the special Armenian-French relations there has been formed a wonderful tradition of maintaining that high-level dialogue – at least one annual meeting between the Presidents during which the parties discuss issues related to the Armenian-French, as well as Armenia-EU cooperation, urgent regional and global issues.
At today’s meeting too, the Presidents of Armenia and France also discussed in detail all the mentioned above problems.
With regard to the trade and economic relations, President Sargsyan noted with satisfaction the presence in Armenia of a large French business community with leading companies such as Carrefour, Pernod Richard, Orange, Credit Agricole, Alcatel, and Veolia which will soon be amplified by other companies.
The President stressed also the importance of the assistance programs launched this year by the French Development Agency. He underscored that decentralized cooperation is also developing successfully: Over 30 local authorities of Armenia and France have established close partnership relations. In that context, the President of France stressed, in particular, the importance of the Third Convention on Decentralized Cooperation to be held October 15-17 in Valence.
Speaking about interparliamentary ties, the Presidents of Armenia and France noted with satisfaction that friendship groups are working actively in the parliaments of the two countries. It’s been one year since Armenia joined the International Organization of Francophonie; the Armenian-French cultural and education relations are also developing successfully.
At the meeting, President Serzh Sargsyan once again expressed thanks to François Hollande for the continued efforts of the French side aimed at the peaceful resolution of the NK conflict. The Presidents of Armenia and France reiterated that there is no alternative to a peaceful resolution of the conflict in the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairmanship. Serzh Sargsyan noted that Armenia attaches special importance to the personal involvement of the French President in the process.
The parties spoke in detail about the prospects of Armenia-EU cooperation. They agreed that maximum efforts should be made to maintain the tempo and quality of the cooperation, to continue the process of reformation in Armenia. President Sargsyan reiterated Armenia’s commitment to carry on. President François Hollande assured that France - as Armenia's friend and one of the leaders of the European Union and major international player - will continue to assist Armenia in moving forward her European agenda.
At the meeting, the President of Armenia once again expressed gratitude for France's significant contribution to the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
To ensure the continuation of the high-level political dialogue established between the two countries, Serzh Sargsyan reiterated the invitation extended to the President of France to conduct a state visit to the Republic of Armenia.
On October 1, in Paris President Serzh Sargsyan met with the President of the French Senate Jean-Pierre Bel.
The parties underscored that the relations between the Armenian and French peoples have always stood out for their warmness and mutual trust. President Serzh Sargsyan noted that Armenia views France as a sincere friend of the Armenian nation and a reliable partner which has always been considerate of the problems of our nation. He added that it is greatly appreciated by every Armenian. The President deemed it quite natural that from day of the Armenian independence, the Armenian-French interstate relations have been moving upward. The President of Armenia and President of French Senate concurred that such level of relations was achieved through the regular political dialogue, active interparliamentary cooperation, close cultural, educational and scientific ties, efficient cooperation between the Armenian and French local authorities and other joint achievements. According to the interlocutors, the current level of the Armenian-French relations is gratifying indeed, however it also compels not to become complacent with the existing situation but to work hard for a continuous deepening and expansion of bilateral cooperation.
Serzh Sargsyan and Jean-Pierre Bel underlined a significant role of the interparliamentary relations in strengthening ties between the two states. The President of Armenia noted that the Armenian-French interparliamentary cooperation has always been and continues to be one of the most important items of our bilateral agenda. According to Serzh Sargsyan, it is greatly contributed to by the groups of the Armenian-French friendship created in the two Parliaments, deputies of the National Assembly and Senate engaged in their works, many of whom are also leaders of the sister towns and regions.
President Serzh Sargsyan hailed visits of the French parliamentary delegations to Artsakh, which has become a good tradition. He also praised the creation of the Circle of Friendship with Artsakh by the French social and political groups in March of this year. According to the President, unbiased and comprehensive information provided to the international community within the Circle is crucial.
At the request of the senators present at the meeting, President Serzh Sargsyan spoke about the NK peace process, prospects of development of the Armenia-EU relations, Armenia’s decision to join the Customs Union, as well as a wide range of regional issues.
At the conclusion of the meeting, the President of Armenia made an inscription in the Senate’s Golden Book for honorary guests.
President Serzh Sargsyan on October 2 in Strasbourg met with the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Jean-Claude Mignon, CE Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland and CE Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muižnieks.
The interlocutors praised Armenia’s activities at the CE Ministerial Committee conducted in the framework of her presidency, assessing it as efficient and successful. They also spoke with satisfaction about cooperation with the Armenian Permanent Representation at the Council of Europe and Armenian parliamentary delegation at the PACE. Serzh Sargsyan noted that Armenia has assumed Chairmanship at the CE Ministerial Committee with great responsibility, mindful of all the challenges which the European community is facing now, as well as attaching importance to the role of the Organization and the imperative of conducting profound reforms for the enhancement of its role. For identifying the priorities during the Chairmanship, our country tried to combine issues important for the Council of Europe and those which are critical for Armenia, striving to include three pillars the Council of Europe is built upon – human rights, the rule of law, and democracy. The Heads of the mentioned structures of the CE spoke with the President of Armenia about the PACE agenda issues, priorities, and problems of the Organization.
At the meeting the parties spoke also about the NK peace process, regional challenges, Armenia’s decision to join the Customs Union, prospects of deepening the Armenia-EU relations, process of reformation in our country, including recently initiated constitutional reforms.
President Serzh Sargsyan underscored that in recent years reforms aimed at the deepening of democracy in Armenia have been implemented steadfastly and assured that the results are visible and tangible. The President of Armenia expressed gratitude to the PACE Co-Rapporteurs who prepared a report on Armenia for their work and for the constructive cooperation.
Serzh Sargsyan noted that Armenia is determined to continue her efforts aimed at the protection of human rights and enhancement of democracy and attaches great importance to the CE’s assistance in that process. According to the President, Armenia will continue her close cooperation with the European Union in this area in the framework of the Eastern Partnership.
President Sargsyan spoke also about one of the main issues of Armenia’s foreign policy agenda including prevention of genocides, fight against racial discrimination and intolerance and said with this regard that Armenia in the framework of her Chairmanship intends to carry out a series of events.
In the context of the meeting with the high officials of the CE, the parties stressed the importance of the Conference on Fight against Racism, Xenophobia and Intolerance to be held on October 21-22 in Yerevan. The Secretary General of the Council of Europe and CE Commissioner for Human Rights will attend the Conference.
At the conclusion of the meeting with CE Secretary General, President Serzh Sargsyan and Mr. Thorbjørn Jagland summarized the results of the negotiations and responded to the questions asked by the representatives of the mass media.
Later, President Serzh Sargsyan participated at the plenary session of PACE. He made a statement and responded to the questions raised by the members of the Assembly.
President Serzh Sargsyan in Strasbourg on October 2 attended the official gift presentation ceremony conducted in the framework of Armenia’s Chairmanship in CE. Armenia’s gift to the Council of Europe is a tinted glass picture named the Power of Unity which will be put on display at the Assembly Hall.
On this occasion, the President of Armenia in his remarks expressed thanks to the beloved and talented artist Arev Petrossian for her artistic idea and impressive work as well as to all structures and individuals of the Council of Europe who made possible the installation of the glass picture. “Almost 13 years ago, on January 25, 2001 Armenia became a full member of the Council of Europe and an integral part of the large European family. Just as for 800 million Europeans, this stronghold of democracy has become also ours, Armenians’ home.
In 2001, Armenia was ten years old, now – we are twenty-two. “Growing” in this family for almost a decade, Armenia has created a strong basis and structures for democracy, protection of human rights and the rule of law.
Please accept this glass picture, Armenia’s gift as a modest contribution to the construction of our common home. Nations assembled in the Council of Europe have different histories and different past, however they are united around common all-human values. They created these values one by one, paving the way towards the vision of our common future. This work of authorship symbolizes our collective power in its unity and harmonious diversity,” President Serzh Sargsyan said at the official gift presentation ceremony at the Council of Europe.
Later, President Sargsyan together with the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Jean-Claude Mignon, CE Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland and CE Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muižnieks viewed at the hall of the Ministerial Committee Arev Petrossian’s triptych – Love, Freedom, and Conscience which also signify the power of unity. The triptych was presented by Serzh Sargsyan to Messrs. Jean-Claude Mignon, Thorbjørn Jagland, and Nils Muižnieks.
At the conclusion of the visit to the Council of Europe, President Sargsyan attended the ceremony of signing the 16th Protocol of the European Human Rights Convention. On behalf of Armenia it was signed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Edward Nalbandian.