PARIS (ArmRadio)—Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian, on an official visit to the French capital, bestowed on Wednesday an Order of Honor to renowned French Armenian artist Hovhannes Mirijan Semerjyan (Jansem) for his contributions to the “reinforcement of Armenian-French cultural ties.”
The honor was given on the occasion of Jansem’s 90th birthday at his exhibit in the Matignon Gallery in the French capital.
Speaking to Sarkisian after the ceremony, Jansem said that although he lives in France, he has “always been in Armenia with his mind and heart.” It’s for this reason, he added, that he “can’t help crying every time he visits Armenia.”
The Armenian artist said he is said that his sons and grandsons do not speak Armenian. He last visited Armenia ten years ago, but follows its developments closely, he said.
Sarkisian, for his part, sought to reassure Jansem that “maintaining the Armenian spirit is the most important for staying an Armenian.”
The Armenian President explained that this is why Armenia created the Ministry of Diaspora, which “actively cooperates with Armenian communities on issues of maintenance of the Armenian language and culture.”
According to the presidential press office, Sarkisian also signed a decree awarding the Order of Honor to Italian-Armenian filmmaker Tonino Guerra for his “contributions in the reinforcement of the Armenian-Italian cultural ties, his great role in world cinematography.” Guerra’s honor was also given to him on the occasion of his 90th birthday.”