PARIS—From advocating for Artsakh’s reunification with Armenia to advancing the criminalization of the Armenian Genocide, the three leading candidates vying for the presidency this Sunday have gone on record about their views regarding Artsakh, justice for the Armenian Genocide and relations with Armenia in interviews with Nouvelles d’Armenie.
Marine Le Pen
In her interview with the Paris-based publication French presidential hopeful Marine Le Pen of the National Front pledged to continue to commemorate the Armenian Genocide and called for France to recognize the independence of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
“I believe it would be desirable for Azerbaijan and Armenia to reach an agreement allowing Nagorno-Karabakh to unite with Armenia,” Le Pen told Nouvelle d’Amenie.
“I will continue to commemorate the genocide of which the Armenian people have been victim since it is the first great crime against humanity in the twentieth century. Moreover, the arrival of many Armenians in France in 1915 was an important event in the history of our country because they contributed greatly to our nation and contributed to its reconstruction after the First World War and were perfectly assimilated,” said Le Pen.
“It seems to me important that the genocide of 1915 is widely recognized by all the countries of the world and that Turkey at last begins a serious reflection on this terrible page of its history. France must absolutely support the struggle for recognition because of its status as a homeland of human rights and the large number of Armenians who have found refuge there and have successfully integrated themselves there,” she added.
Marine Le Pen said she stands against Turkey’s accession to the European Union. “Unlike the other major parties, MEPs of the National Front have always voted against the opening of new chapters of accession talks with Turkey, and we are the only ones to oppose it firmly and unambiguously. On this subject, I am the only candidate to have never changed opinions and to be credible.”
French presidential candidate and former prime minister representing the Republicans François Fillon pledged to commemorate April 24th if elected and highlighted France’s role in the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
“There is no alternative to finding a peaceful and lasting solution to the Karabakh conflict,” Fillon told Nouvelle d’Armenie.
“In April 2016, for six days, the Southern Caucasus once again flamed. Confirmed by international indifference, Azerbaijan tried to retake Nagorno-Karabakh by force. This murderous offensive ended with a precarious ceasefire. Today our French citizens of Armenian origin are worried and I am also worried because the Nagorno-Karabakh. Let us not forget that the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh is due to Stalin, who arbitrarily detached it from Armenia and gave to Azerbaijan in 1921. Now there is no choice but to find a Peaceful and lasting solution through the United Nations,” added Fillion.
On the matter of the Armenian Genocide Fillion said, “It is important not to forget the thousands of victims.”
“The French of Armenian origin and the Armenian community of France constitute an example of integration, of success, of patriotism. Everyone loves France but all also have a bit of their heart in Armenia. With the law of January 29, 2001, France publicly acknowledged the Armenian genocide of 1915. By recognizing the existence of the first genocide of the twentieth century, the French Republic symbolically gave the Armenian drama a place in the collective memory of mankind,” he said.
“Turkey is very wrong not to look at its past. Every nation has its share of shadow and gains by recognizing it,” Fillon said.
“The French Republic has a duty to protect all its citizens, including our citizens who have found asylum, homeland and freedom in France. It is up to the justice of the Republic to act to ensure respect for its citizens. An important legislative work had to be carried out in order to draw all the legal consequences of this recognition, that is to say, the penalization of denial,” he said.
As for Turkey’s accession to the European Union, François Fillon said: “I have always been consistent. I have never changed my opinion: Turkey’s accession to the European Union is neither possible nor desirable. I regret that France and Europe do not have the courage to say it sincerely to the Turkish authorities.”
French Presidential candidate Benoît Hamon of the Socialist Party told the Paris-based publication that if elected he will continue to participate in events commemorating the Armenian Genocide so that “this genocide is never forgotten.” He also pledged his support for a peaceful resolution to the Artsakh conflict.
“France has a special responsibility as co-chair of the Minsk Group alongside Russia and the United States” to contribute to the settlement of the Karabakh conflict said Hamon.
“The urgency of finding a solution to this conflict came suddenly to remember us during the violent clashes – the most violent in 20 years – that took place from 2 to 5 April. We have seen evidence that the expression “frozen conflict” is inadequate to describe a situation that causes many deaths every year. France has a special responsibility as co-chair of the Minsk Group alongside Russia and the United States. It immediately mobilized with its partners to obtain the ceasefire of 5 April. However, it would be a serious and dangerous mistake to consider that the situation is now stabilized. The clashes can resume at any moment, with incalculable consequences for the whole region. This situation requires everyone to find a solution to this conflict which has lasted too long. The elements of a regulation are known. These are the Madrid Principles made public in 2010. Elected President of the Republic, I would naturally be ready to organize another meeting to take concrete steps along this path. While there are increasing uncertainties at the international level, it is only time to put an end to this conflict, which is penalizing populations, hampering the development of both states, and maintaining a climate of instability detrimental to the entire region. Now is the time for everyone to take responsibility. This is what will have to be said to President Aliyev and President Sarkisian. The basis of an agreement is possible,” he added.
“The genocide of the Armenians of 1915 is a major event in the history of the twentieth century, a trauma for the whole humanity and of course especially for the French of Armenian origin and therefore for France. If I am elected President of the Republic, I will of course continue to participate in this commemoration so that this genocide is never forgotten,” Hamon told Nouvelles d’Armenie. He hopes to visit the Didzernagapert Armenian Genocide Memorial in Yerevan one day.
“The Armenian community of France has all my admiration because it is an exemplary model of integration. The French of Armenian origin have contributed greatly to France, in various fields. They have often shown their love for France,” he said.
“As regards the struggle for recognition of the Armenian genocide, the efforts of not only the French of Armenian origin but also many of our fellow citizens of all origins are admirable and legitimate. If France was one of the first countries to recognize the Armenian genocide in 2001, I also realize that today more than ever, we must go further. In the words of Jean Jaures, “humanity can no longer live with the corpse of a murdered people in its cellar” and it was in 1897, 18 years before the genocide of 1915. Even if the legal channels to allow the penalization of the negation of the crime of genocide met the obstacles we know, we must not give up. In addition, there are many ways to sustain this memory, so that mass crimes committed in the past can never happen again,” Benoît Hamon said.
“The relations of friendship between France and Armenia are very strong and I hope that they will develop. Let us not forget that history binds us: the last king of Armenia rests in the basilica of Saint-Denis, next to the kings of France and in 1915, the French navy helped the Armenians of Cilicia. I wish to strengthen this relationship with Armenia, which has been asked too often to make a “civilized choice” between Russia and the European Union. Things are not as simple, but I am convinced that France must be a privileged partner of Armenia. This is done on the economic level of course, since France is the first European investor in Armenia. But this can also be done at the level of decentralized cooperation between the French and Armenian regional authorities,” the presidential candidate said.
French presidential hopeful Emmanuel Macron pledges to continue the tradition to commemorate the Armenian Genocide if elected, reported Public Radio of Armenia.
“The date of 24 April is a strong symbol: it commemorates the murder of 600 Armenian intellectuals on 24 April 1915 in Constantinople and the beginning of the first genocide. This is an important moment for the duty of memory and for the friendship between France and Armenia. I intend to continue this tradition by participating in the commemorations. I am also in favor of a day of commemoration of the Armenian Genocide being included in our calendar,” Macron said in an interview with Nouvelles d’Armenie.
“In France, the penalization of the denial of the genocide could not be obtained and the decision of the Constitutional Council provoked much misunderstanding. I am convinced that we must continue to work in this direction. Law and memory cannot be incompatible,” the presidential candidate said.
“France and Armenia share a great friendship that I wish to further strengthen. Due to the presence of the Armenian community of course, but also to prolong a tradition that has its roots in the late nineteenth century when the French press was already taking position by denouncing the first massacres. This support continued with naval relief operations to the Armenians of Cilicia in 1909 and in 1915 and then with the recognition by France of the first Armenian Republic in 1918. Today, Armenia is a member of the Organization International of La Francophonie. The next summit of this organization is to be held in Yerevan in 2018! It will be a great moment for our two countries. Our privileged relationship is also due to the neglected economic opportunities in Armenia, where France must invest more, for example in the new technologies sector,” Emmanuel Macron said.
He said France must play its full part in the settlement of the Karabakh conflict. “France is co-president of the Minsk Group, with Russia and the United States. It is working to find a negotiated solution to the Karabakh issue, in accordance with international law. It is within this framework that the question of recognition will arise. Our country must play its full part. After the Paris summit in 2014, the effort was not pursued. I therefore want to revive it to find a solution that respects both the integrity of states and the right of self-determination of peoples. The road is narrow, I know, but we can move forward,” Macron stated.