YEREVAN (Arka)—French President François Hollande will visit Armenia on April 24 to join commemorations of the centennial anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, France’s Ambassador to Armenia Jean-François Charpentier said Wednesday, as reported by Novosti-Armenia.
Asked to comment on Turkish President Recep Tyyip Erdogan’s decision to celebrate the Battle of Gallipoli on the very same day, Charpentier said he is not commenting on other countries’ commemoration decisions.
“Every country makes its own decision [about] who to send and where. François Hollande will come to Armenia. It is not clear yet who will go to Turkey,” Charpentier said.
Erdogan invited Armenia’s President Serzh Sarkisian to join in commemorating Gallipoli on April 24. Sarkisian was quick to rebuff the invitation, calling the gesture “morally indecent.” Sarkisian said Turkey is attempting to divert the attention of the global community from the centennial of the Armenian Genocide.
The Armenian Genocide was the first genocide of the twentieth century. The Turkish government to this day refuses to acknowledge that the systematic, state-sponsored murder of 1.5 million Armenians and the exile of Armenians from their historic homelands constitutes a genocide. Instead, the Turkish state claims that it was Armenians who killed Turks and that Armenians were relocated from their homes for their own safety. Writers and public figures in Turkey are arrested regularly for speaking about the Armenian Genocide, which is illegal in Turkey under certain circumstances.
During another part of his press conference, French Ambassador Charpentier said the terrorist attacks in France earlier this year targeted not only France, but also the freedom of speech and expression, “the dearest things to us.”
“The threat of radical expressions on the religious ground is urgent in France today, and this makes the authorities raise security not only inside France, but also beyond its borders. We attach more importance to the maintenance of democratic values than we ever did,” the Ambassador said.
Speaking about French-Armenian relations, Charpentier said, “We should use all possible tools for the development of trade relations.” He also mentioned that the French Carrefour hypermarket chain will probably open its first store in Yerevan in March 2015.
The Ambassador added that Armenia’s membership in the Eurasian Economic Union has not affected Armenia-EU relations.