Hollande Calls for Artsakh Peace During Sarkisian’s France Visit
PARIS, France (A.W.)— Armenian President Serge Sarkisian and his delegation concluded a two day trip to France on March 8, at the invitation of the French President Francois Hollande. During a joint press conference of the two Presidents, Hollande mentioned the need for international sanctions against those carrying out ceasefire violations in the Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabagh) conflict, while expressing concern at the escalation of recent fighting there.
He also called for the use of verification mechanisms and added that conflicting parties should avoid the repeat of incidents that have erupted in recent months.
As a result of a meetings between Sarkisian and Hollande, France and Armenia agreed deals on tourism, research, cooperation, and the creation of a new French university in Armenia.
During his visit, President Sarkisian met with some of the highest leadership of France that included the President of Senate Gerard Larcher, President of the National Assembly Claude Bartolone, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, and Secretary General of La Francophonie Michaelle Jean.
According to the Sarksian’s press office, the President also met with representatives of French businessmen and of the Armenian communities of Europe in Paris as well as Lyon Mayor Gerard Collomb during his visit to the city.
After the welcoming ceremony that took place at the Court of Honor of Les Invalides Palace on March 7, President Sarkisian and his delegation first met with La Francophonie Secretary General Michaelle Jean at the organization’s headquarters.
Next year marks the 10th anniversary of Armenia’s membership in the International Organization of Francophonie. In that regard, both Sarkisian and Jean noted that the organization has not only promoted French language and culture in Armenia, but has become a platform for the strengthening of relations between the two countries.
President Sarkisian thanked Jean’s support for Artsakh as they discussed the issue and the role of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group in resolving the conflict. The two also discussed the details of the upcoming Francophonie Summit, which is to be held in Armenia in 2018.
Sarkisian concluded his first day in France with a meeting of the representatives of the Armenian communities of Europe. During the meeting, Sarkisian spoke of the achievements of the Republic of Armenia and called for more cooperation between the diaspora and Armenia in order to have a united front in tackling pan Armenian issues.
The second day of Sarkisian’s visit began with his meeting with National Assembly President Claude Bartolone. Sarkisian commended Bartolone’s work on the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide and the condemnation and criminalization of its denial.
During Sarkisian’s meeting with Paris Mayor Ann Hidalgo, the Armenian President congratulated Hidalgo on International Women’s Day and noted that he had sent a congratulatory message to all the women in Armenia. He then awarded the Mayor of Paris with the Order of Honor for her contribution to the strengthening and development of Armenian-French relations.
In Lyon, the Armenian President visited Place Bellecour and laid a wreath at the Armenian Genocide memorial prior to his visit with the mayor.
The president thanked Lyon Mayor Gerard Collomb for consistently taking care of the concerns of the Armenian community of Lyon. During the meeting, the president and the mayor discussed cooperation in education, technology, and economics. Sarkisian also awarded the Mayor of Lyon with the Order of Honor for his contribution to the further strengthening of Armenian-French ties.
Throughout his visit, President Sarkisian sought to attract French investment in Armenia to assist its struggling economy during his meetings. France has long maintained a steady and warm relationship with Armenia given the influential French Armenian community.
Sarkisian’s trip concluded with an official reception held at the Elysee Palace hosted by President Hollande.