10, 2011

Speech by the President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan at the ceremony of unveiling the Auguste Rodin sculpture of Jules Bastien-Lepage

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Esteemed Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen:

This is a wonderful morning in Yerevan – amazing weather, great mood, enjoyable ambience, and nice people. This is how we welcome our good friend, my good friend the President of France Nicolas Sarkozy. Mr. President, we welcome You in the Motherland of the entire Armenian nation, in the capital of the Republic of Armenia, which just days ago celebrated its 20th anniversary.

I am truly honored to participate together with You at the ceremony of unveiling of a magnificent sculpture of the world-famous French sculptor Auguste Rodin. One of the genius Frenchman’s wonderful works, sculpture of the painter Jules Bastien-Lepage from now on will be standing here, at the France Square. This magnificent gift by Auguste Rodin and Nicolas Sarkozy will forever symbolize the eternal and unbreakable Armenian-French friendship.

Let’s look around for a moment: it’s not difficult to notice that this Square is surrounded by the beloved and valuable national symbols – the avenue named after the founder of the Armenian alphabet Mesrop Mashtots, Yerevan National Opera and Ballet Theater and the statue of the world-famous Armenian composer Aram Khatchaturian, the Yerevan State Conservatoire and monument of the great composer Komitas; on the other side there are statues of the outstanding Armenian painter Sarian, the creator of the old Yerevan’s new appearance Tamanian, and the Armenian-American classic William Saroyan. This very important for us Square, which is surrounded by the great Armenians, we have named after our dear friend – France. I believe, that this fact testifies to the sentiments of our people toward France and is the best evidence of the value of the Armenian-French relations and significance.

For a number of reasons, France and the Armenian-French relations have a special meaning for us. The first and foremost – Armenians in Armenia and elsewhere love France. Opulent French culture, which left an indelible mark in the human civilization and system of values are close and much cherished by the Armenian people.

Our country has also close historical links with France, which date back the early Middle Ages and from that time on developed gradually. Close relations between the kings and nobility of Armenia and France are well known, particularly in the period of the Armenian Cilicia Kingdom.

Today, we are also linked by the almost half a million large Armenian community of France. Armenians, who established themselves in France in different periods of time, have been living there generation after generation, loved France, dedicated themselves to France, fully integrated into the French society and have brought their invaluable contribution to the development and prosperity of France. Many Armenians, alongside with the French fought against foreign invaders and died for the liberty of France.

The Armenians of France have become a bridge which joins together our peoples and our countries, they have become blended carries of the Armenian and French cultures. Just some time ago, we have also attended the opening of the great Frenchman and great Armenian, Charles Aznavour’s home-museum in Yerevan. Our people can be proud with the names which link our cultures together – Anri Truaya, Garzu, Michel Legrand, Henri Vernoy and others.

Historical, cultural and civilization values which join us together became the pillar on which the Armenian-French interstate relations were established and now develop. France extended a helping hand to Armenia from day one of our independence and supported us at the most exigent moments. In the person of France we have a friend with whom we have shared our joy and concerns and which has always been by our side.

We are grateful to France and her people for sheltering hundreds of thousands of the Armenians who after the Armenian Genocide had lost their homeland, for restoring their real selves and for giving them the opportunity to rise on their feet again. We are grateful for calling the tragedy that had befallen the Armenian people in the beginning of the last century by its proper name – genocide – and for its condemnation by law.

We are grateful for the consistent efforts of our friend France and personally You, Mr. President aimed at the peaceful resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh issue and establishment of a durable peace in our region.

We are grateful for standing by us on the dreadful days of the earthquake in Spitak, for the economic, humanitarian and other diverse and continuous assistance and support provided in the last twenty years.

And finally, we are grateful for the steady assistance provided by the French authorities on our road toward the rapprochement with the European Union.

Dear Guests and Attendees,

Common history and friendship which bind our peoples, our common system of values and interpenetration of our cultures are eternal and lasting, as eternal and lasting are the works of Auguste Rodin.

Rodin, is one of those genius artists, who with a touch of his hand gave life to stone and metal, breathed spirit and motion into them, creating undying symbols and expressing the soaring spirit and thought of the human being.

We express our profound gratitude to the President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy for presenting Armenia with this priceless gift.

Dear Mr. President,

I am certain that for the generations of Armenians, this magnificent work of art situated in the heart of our capital will signify the eternity of the Armenian-French friendship.

Thank you once again for this amazing gift.

God bless You.
God bless France.
Long live the Armenian-French friendship!

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