PARIS—President Serzh Sarkisian, who is on an official visit to France, met with President Emanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace on Tuesday. The two leaders discussed the ongoing negotiations for the resolution of the Karabakh conflict as well as Armenia’s relations with the European Union.
Following the meeting, the two leaders held a press conference, during which Macron accepted Sarkisain’s invitation to visit Armenia and attend the upcoming Francophonie Summit scheduled to take place in Armenia in October.
“In this complicated region, France will stand with you and will support your progress.2018 is a very important year for Armenia,” Macron said, adding that the French Foreign Minister will participate in the events dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the first Armenian Republic on May 28.
“During our meeting we decided to broaden the role of France in education, to expand the French University and create a cultural center. At the same time I want to highly assess the role of the Armenian Diaspora and remind that I will participate in the dinner of the Coordinating Council of Armenian Organizations in France,” Macron added.
The French president said that Armenian-French relations must be more dynamic and encouraged cooperation in the fields of tourism, agriculture, environment and software industries.
On the Karabakh conflict resolution front, Macron welcomed the meetings of the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents in Geneva last year, as well as the ongoing talks between the foreign ministers of the two countries, the most recent of which took place last week in Krakow, Poland.
Macron expressed hope that the resumption of dialogue will bring concrete results.
“It has to be a brave resolution. I know it’s very difficult to advocate peace and I wish the meetings to have concrete results,” Macron said saying that he wanted lasting peace in the region and highlighted France’s role in the mediation efforts.
“Of course, we talked about Nagorno Karabakh conflict, which might be the most important issue of our region,” Sarkisain told the press conference. “I highly appreciated the approaches and years of efforts by France, as an OSCE Minsk Group Co-chair country, aimed at the peaceful resolution of the conflict and the establishment of security, stability and cooperation in our region.”
Sarkisian reiterated Armenia’s commitment to resolving the Karabakh conflict through negotiations headed by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairing countries.
“It’s known that the people of Nagorno Karabakh are struggling for freedom and self-determination and such a struggle can in no way end in a failure,” said Sarkisain.
The Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement signed between Armenian and the European Union in November was one of the important topics of the discussion between the two leaders.
“It’s of course an ambitious and landmark document and the role of France in its realization is rather huge. The continuous support of France in this direction is really important for Armenia. This is an agreement that opens new avenues also for bilateral relations,” said Sarkisaian.
“I agreed with my colleague to focus on bilateral economic relations,” said Sarkisian who told reporters that Armenia was interested in expanding France’s already “major business presence in our country.”
Explaining that Armenia was committed to bringing its economy and legislation closer to European standards, Sarkisian also highlighted the role France can play in advancing democratic reforms and European values in Armenia.
Sarkisain also pledged that Armenia would do its utmost to ensure that the Francophonie Summit is a great success, welcoming Macron’s decision to travel to Armenia for the event. He also emphasized the positive role French legislators have played in advancing Armenia’s interests through their work in the Armenia-France friendship group in France’s National Assembly.
“The French members of parliament have not only fostered the establishment of close Armenian-French parliamentary cooperation through their activities, but have also enriched and promoted the agenda of bilateral interstate relations,” said Sarkisian.