Interviews and press conferences
Joint press conference delivered by President Serzh Sargsyan and French President Francois Hollande
Statement by President Serzh Sargsyan at joint press breifing with French President Francois Hollande
Distinguished Mr. President,
Honorable ladies and gentlemen,
Respected respresentatives of the mass media,
I once again welcome to the President of France and the great friend of Armenian people Mr. Hollande’s state visit to the Republic of Armenia. During these two days, we have had constructive discussions with President Hollande held in an atmoshpere of mutual undertsanding. The latter characterizes each our meeting be it in Yerevan, Paris or in a third country. We thoroughly touched upon the Armenian-French intensive agenda, as well as a number of regional and international issues.
We were pleased to state that the Armenian-French interstate relations anchored in a historical friendship and identical values had gradually reached an important milestone – a privilaged level. A dynamic political dialogue, active inter parliamentary ties, close collaboration between 35 Armenian and French regions and cities, an intensive economic, cultural, scientific and educational agenda, suport programs implemeneted effectively by France, as well as a legal and contractual field involving 35 legal documents to be increased by 7 to enlarge and reinfoce the bilateral collaboration: this is the outcome of our joint work during these years. In addition, we reaffirmed our committment to make new acheivements.
Taking part in the opening ceremony of yesterday’s business forum together with President Hollande, we stressed the improtance of the economic component of our cooperation, welcomed the total one-billion-dollar investments made by France in Armenia and the engagement of around 180 French companies – Pernod Ricard, Ornage, Credit Agricole, Veolia, Sor, Alcatel and others - in the Armenian economy. It is an honor for us that this list is expanded by the access of one more world-famous company – the chain of hypermarkets Carrefour.
We touched upon our peoples’ cultural ties which are of pivotal importance for the Armenian-French relations. I mentioned that Armenians loved France, the French culture and language, that is why in Armenia there exists a whole French language teaching cycle from schools to universities and our engagment in the international Francophonie movement is deliberate and extremely effective.
Touching upon the NKR conflict, I once again highly appreciated the role of France as the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair country.
We exchanged views on Turkey’s illegal blockade of Armenia, the state of Christians in the Middle East, including the Kesab events.
We reaffirmed our mutual interest in further enhancing the cooperation between our countries on multilateral platforms, including the EU Eastern Partnership platform. I said that Armenia is committed to advancing its relations with the European Union in all possible directions exactly on the foundation we have laid down jointly in recent years. Armenia highly appreciates the French support in promoting the Armenia-European Union cooperation.
We are grateful to France not only for recognizing and condemning the Armenian Genocide legally, but also for the commitment to fight against the policy of denial through legal mechanisms. With the Armenian Genocide Centenary ahead, this issue is urgent more than ever in terms of transferring the denialism to the Pan-European platform and in the context of Turkey’s diligent efforts at mutilating it under the mask of freedom of speech. We should be vigilant and watchful since the impunity gives rise to permissiveness especially as the contemporary world is not free of most brutal crimes against humanity.
Honorable Mr. President,
During your visit, I intended to invite you to Armenia to attend the events to be organized on the occasion of the Armenian Genocide Centenary in 2015. Can you imagine our appreciation when you yourself announced about it in your statement made on the occasion of the 99th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide on April 24. We consider that step as a striking illustration of your friendship and complete devotion to Armenian people and Armenia. Mr. President, I would like to once again present my appreciation for your deed.
I am sure that the visit of President Hollande will give a new impulse to the Armenian-French political dialogue and multilateral cooperation.
President Serzh Sargsyan answered questions of journalists at joint press conference with French President
President Serzh Sargsyan answered the question of French newspaper Le Figaro’s journalist concerning Armenia’s relations with the Russian Federation: “I think that the Armenian-Russian warm relations are grounded on the age-old friendship. We have been on friendly terms with Russia for almost 250 years and have lived within a common state for a long time. We are tied together with cultural and economic relations which are the foundation for our present relations. I think that there is nothing strange about Armenia’s decision to join the Customs Union since the present economic interconnectedness is at a very high level. In addition, we have signed a bilateral friendship agreement with Russia and are involved in the same security system, not to talk about certain preferences the Customs Union shows to its member countries. For example, it affords us an opportunity to import power-generating substances at competitive prices, which gives us a chance to produce competitive goods under conditions of limited resources. This is the incentive for our decision and this is its starting point. However, the membership in the Customs Union does not mean that we cease or utterly cut off our relations with the European Union. On the contrary, as we discussed it with Mr. Hollande, it would be great if a special association proposal is made to the Republic of Armenia. Accordingly, we will continue to enhance our relations with the European Union, because those relations not only offer an opportunity to return to our roots but also to implement rapid reforms in our country. Thank you.
The correspondent of the Public Television of Armenia said that along with the recent confrontation between the East and the West some, people thought that it could have a bad influence upon the existing cooperation among the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, as well as upon their tradition of adopting concerted positions. As a result, they might revise or change their positions on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The correspondent asked whether the Armenian President considered the possibility of any such case and how the president would comment on the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs’ statement on the occasion of the 20th anniversary and the preceding statement made by the American Co-Chair. Serzh Sargsyan said: “I have said many times that we should not put every conflict in the same category since each conflict requires its own way of settlement. Each conflict has its own origin, its own history and there are prerequisites for settling each conflict. The perceptions and conflict resolution variants of each subject of international law are conditioned by exactly those prerequisites. Many times have the leaders and representatives of the co-chair countries expressed their concerted opinion orally or in written form according to which the final status of the Nagorno-Karabakh must be determined through people’s expression of free will which would having binding legal force.
I restate that the principle of exercising the right to self-determination does not have any alternative and the Presidents and Foreign Ministers of the United States, France and Russia, as well as their representatives at the Minsk Group have maintained this point on numerous occasions. The recent approach of this kind was presented to the public by the American Co-Chair of the Minsk Group who did not add anything new. He mainly reiterated what his president had said on different occasions. The same approach was presented in the co-chairs’ statement dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the ceasefire. The efforts of the Azeri authorities at interpreting those approaches and principles in their own manner are doomed to failure. I would like to reiterate that I do not share the approach as if various countries regularly apply double standards. No, those are not double standards; rather than those approaches stem from exactly the histories of those conflicts, their origin and prerequisites. I do not see any change even in case of the roughest conflict.”
Statement by French President Francois Hollande at joint press conference with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan
Distinguished Mr. President,
Taking the opportunity, I would like to thank President Sargsyan for the warm reception, as well as the parliamentarians included in the delegation accompanying me, the managers of enterprises and the cultural figures.
The relations between France and Armenia are anchored in historical, human and cultural connections.
Our relations should be promoted in economic direction as well.
Historically, there is a large Armenian community in France which is one of the biggest communities in the world with its 500000 members – our compatriots. Armenians of France, being completely integrated into our society, consider themselves full-fledged Frenchmen maintaining a highly emotional connection with Armenia at the same time.
I am sure this visit is very important for them.
France and Armenia are connected with people to people contacts and there is a broad cooperation field which we have promoted for years.
Taking into consideration that Armenia is a member of the International Organization of Francophonie, we actively cooperate in the fields of the French language and education since in Armenia French is taught starting from kindergartens and ending with universities.
In the near future, the French Lyceum will also be opened in Armenia. In that context, I welcome the representatives of the education sector who implement the French teaching mission in Armenia with devotion.
There is the French University in Armenia which provides Armenian students with high quality education cooperating with the University of Lion. It affords them an opportunity to receive French education in Armenia and to pursue a successful career in their homeland.
A lot of Armenian students also study in France in order to continue their higher education.
The purpose of my visit to Yerevan is to enhance the Armenian-French economic cooperation. Yesterday, the opening ceremony of the Armenian-French economic forum took place which continues today as well. It is targeted at increasing the Armenian-French trade circulation volume at the same time fostering investments between our two countries.
Today, we concluded a number of agreements. Concurrently, we understand that they do not fully reflect what we can do for Armenia’s development.
Each of us is aware that Armenia is found to be in peculiar conditions. I refer to the existing tensions caused by unresolved conflicts, closed borders which halt the promotion of commercial ties. Thus, we should encourage investments in Armenia. On the other hand, we should deal with political issues which have impeded the development of Armenia for a long time.
With regard to political issues, I was in Azerbaijan yesterday and today I am in Armenia. As a Minsk Group co-chair country, France has reminded about its eagerness to do its best in order to put an end to this conflict.
Certainly, the ceasefire is valid. Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the ceasefire, but in reality, it does not mean the end of the conflict; on the contrary, it slows down the current state of affairs.
Of course, the present situation allows us to avoid tragedies, which can take away thousands of human lives. Nevertheless, such situation can’t be advantageous.
I told President Sargsyan that France attaches great importance to engaging in the conflict resolution process and in that regard I am fully ready to receive the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan in France in order to show signs of confidence which will give an opportunity to proceed with the conflict resolution.
I also affirmed that France will support Armenia in its relations with the European Union for the benefit of Armenia’s association after which Armenia seeks and is full of hope.
Europe’s engagement in programs implemented in Armenia will allow your country maintain its membership in the Customs Union.
In case of Armenia, we should find a specific solution to this issue so that your country can take full advantage of every opportunity conducive to its development.
We have supported Armenia in becoming a full and equal member of the International Organization of Francophonie. Armenia should be able to involve in international projects which will allow us to consider it as a partner for all of us.
I have accepted the invitation to visit Yerevan on the 24th of April of 2015. I did not talk about it here since I had already done it in Paris.
Why does France intend to participate in the Armenian Genocide Centenary at the highest level?
It is going to be an appeal for reconciliation, consolidation, peace and solidarity to the people who have suffered a lot. It is going to be a claim for the recognition of the Genocide. It will also be an appeal to the whole world so that massacres, tragedies and genocides are not repeated.
This step stems from our responsibility, especially from the responsibility of France. You are aware that France is very concerned about the situation in the African region. We are concerned not because we want to push forward our position or to preserve France’s sphere of influence, but rather to avoid massacres in order to save human lives.
Over the last days, I have taken steps to join together the leaders of the countries in Paris which suffer the most as a result of the situation in Nigeria. We can’t accept the fact that girls are still treated as slaves in the 21th century. That is the reason we want to be present at the remembrance ceremony of the Armenian Genocide Centenary.
I would like to conclude my speech and remind of France’s responsibility in the South Caucasus region.
France has established relations with each of the regional countries. We should not give those countries what they expect of us which means not to address their issues and needs as the situation requires; rather than we should show them France’s support and solidarity.
In case of Armenia, this is more than true because your country is devoted to its independence, culture and history more than others. France is standing beside Armenia.
French President Francois Hollande answered questions of journalists at joint press conference with Armenian President
Answering Le Figaro’s question whether or not Mr. Hollande is concerned about Armenia’s policy to support Russia in annexing Crimea considering that French President condemned Russia’s such behavior, the President of France said: “France stresses the importance of one principle of international law – the respect for territorial integrity - which applies everywhere and in every situation. In this regard, each of us is well aware of our position on Crimea. As far as Armenia is concerned, everyone can imagine that it is in a special situation conditioned by geopolitical realities upon which the Armenian-Russian relations are based.
I should not judge, rather than I should understand it, and I have done this during my visit to Armenia. It is also important to understand that it may be the way Europe should answer Armenia.
I want Armenia to fully associate with the European Union, because Armenia strives for it and those are Armenia’s values and interests. Concurrently, considering the framework of the Customs Union, I can’t force Armenia to break off trade relations with Russia.
That is the reason I support Armenia to be in an exceptional and unique situation in a format which will allow Armenia to get involved in the process of approaching the European Union without breaking off the other relations.
The President of France also answered the question of the Armenia TV correspondent on the unexpected statements of the Turkish Prime Minister on the eve of April 24 and the Minister of Foreign Affairs which were considered to be progressive by certain cycles while Armenia, taking into account the past experience, did not consider it as an appeal for reconciliation but a usual attempt to mislead the international community with the Armenian Genocide Centenary ahead. The correspondent wondered whether the French President thinks that if Turkey really wants to normalize relations then it should show political will and to ratify the already negotiated and signed protocols. “I have already talked about it when Prime Minster Erdogan made the statement mentioned above. I should say that I always find something positive about some impulses. The same was in this case. Of course, I do not think it is essential because the massacres and slaughters of 1915 should be called by their proper names - Genocide. However, I always record the progress whenever it is made. Nevertheless, the recognition of the Genocide is the end purpose,” said the French President.