France’s outgoing President Francois Hollande and Emmanuel Macron, the man who will most likely succeed him, marked the 102nd anniversary of the Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey in separate ceremonies held in Paris on Monday.
Macron made his first public appearance since winning Sunday’s first round of voting in France’s presidential election when he laid a wreath at a statue in the French capital symbolizing 1.5 million Armenians massacred or starved to death during the First World War. He observed a minute of silence there.
Ahead of the weekend ballot, Macron spoke of his “admiration” for an estimated 500,000 French people of Armenian descent, most of them descendants of survivors of the genocide. He voiced support for the French-Armenian community’s pursuit of greater international recognition of the genocide. In that regard, he hailed the German parliament’s “historic” decision last year to recognize the genocide.
Opinion polls suggest that Macron, 39, will defeat the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in a run-off vote slated for May 7.
Hollande visited the Armenian genocide memorial in Paris later in the day. He was one of several leaders who travelled to Yerevan in April 2015 to mark the centenary of the genocide.
“One hundred years ago, destructive hatred wanted to exterminate a population because it was Armenian,” Hollande said during that commemoration. “This hatred committed considerable massacres but it could not achieve its ultimate end. You are standing there, alive.”
France officially recognized the Armenian genocide with a special law enacted in 2001.