French President Nicolas Sarkozy twice acknowledged the 1915-23 Genocide when he met with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan yesterday (7 October 2011).
The move is being seen as a significant boost to the campaign for international recognition of the Armenian Genocide, which is still officially denied by Turkey
At France Square in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, the two men made statements and unveiled an Auguste Rodin sculpture of painter Jules Bastien-Lepage, which is a gift from the French Republic to the Republic of Armenia.
“Armenia has always been in the hearts of French people. Our countries are very much alike,” President Sarkozy declared. “France recognizes the crime against a whole nation, calling it 'genocide'," Sarkozy said, before repeating the word in Armenian.
“Turkey should look its history into the face,” he continued. “Despite the lasting blockade, the artificial isolation and the sufferings, the 20-year-old Republic of Armenia has managed to withstand all challenges thanks to the virtues of its people, their diligence and the desire to succeed, features which admire Armenia’s friends, particularly France, convincing everyone that Armenia will be able to withstand the future challenges, as well.”
Sarkozy continued: “No country will understand what Nagorno Karabakh means to Armenia better than France. Seventeen years after the war, which caused so many deaths and sufferings, the time has come to resolve the conflict and find the way to reconciliation. I'll also deliver this message to President Aliyev in Baku. The history of France and Germany shows that even the biggest pain can be softened and the deepest hatred can be overcome, and even during the most difficult moments of their history peoples can find the strength for reconciliation.”
“You, Armenians and Azerbaijanis, should choose this path. The time has come for you to make a risky choice for peace, as there is no bigger danger than the preservation of status-quo which gives birth to illusions, provokes revenge and moves off all the prospects for peace,” he added.
“There exists one format to bolster the efforts of the international community for the settlement of the Karabakh issue - the Minsk Group. Each of three Co-Chair states enjoys the confidence of two sides and is involved in the process of definition of conditions for conflict settlement. But the Armenians and Azerbaijanis themselves should find this path themselves. We can help, but we can never establish peace instead of you,” the French President concluded.
Also on Ekklesia:
* The Armenian Genocide: A way forward?, by Harry Hagopian - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/ConstantinopleLecture
* Full range of articles on the Armenian Genocide - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/armeniangenocide