President Serzh Sarkisian on Monday congratulated French Socialist leader Francois Hollande on his victory in France’s weekend presidential election, expressing confidence that their nations will maintain a “privileged” relationship.
“You have always stood for strengthening friendship and cooperation between Armenia and France,” Sarkisian said in a congratulatory message publicized by his press office. “I am confident that your presidency will be marked by a further deepening of privileged relations and development of close cooperation between our peoples and countries.”
Sarkisian appeared to have developed a warm personal rapport with Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s outgoing president defeated by Hollande, during the final months of his five-year rule. Sarkozy paid a state visit to Armenia last October before engineering the passage of a French law that made it a crime to deny that the 1915 Armenian massacres in Ottoman Turkey constituted genocide.
Sarkisian repeatedly thanked Sarkozy for helping to enact that bill, which was subsequently declared unconstitutional by the French Constitutional Council. “We must simply be grateful to the wise president of this beautiful country,” he said, addressing members of the Armenian community of France’s second largest city of Marseille last December.
Like Sarkozy, Hollande assured French voters of Armenian descent during the presidential race that he would strive to enact, if elected, a new law criminalizing Armenian genocide denial.
Hollande met with Sarkisian when he visited Yerevan in September 2007 at the invitation of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), then a member of the country’s governing coalition. He said at the time that recognition of the Armenian genocide must be a precondition for Turkey’s membership in the European Union.
The Dashnaktsutyun branch in France supported Hollande in the French presidential ballot.