President Serzh Sarkisian on Monday congratulated Emmanuel Macron on winning the French presidential elections and expressed confidence that Armenia’s “privileged” relationship with France will deepen during his tenure.
“I warmly congratulate you on your convincing victory in the elections of the French Republic’s president and your election to the highest post of the country’s leader,” Sarkisian said in a letter publicized by his office.
“I am confident that during your tenure the privileged relations, high-level vigorous political dialogue, multifaceted economic cooperation, and dynamic cultural ties between our two countries based on centuries-long Armenian-French friendship will continue to develop and deepen,” he said.
Sarkisian also praised France’s role in international efforts to end the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and its strong support for Armenia’s efforts to forge closer ties with the European Union.
Macron similarly described French-Armenian ties as “privileged” ahead of the April 23 first round of voting in the French presidential race. “France and Armenia share a great friendship which I would like to reinforce further,” he told the French-Armenian magazine “Nouvelles d’Armenie.”
The centrist candidate also spoke of his “admiration” for an estimated 500,000 French people of Armenian descent, most of them descendants of survivors of the 1915 Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey.
Macron made a point of visiting a genocide memorial in Paris on April 24 to mark the 102nd anniversary of the start of the mass killings and deportations of Armenians. “I think it is important to honor the memories,” he told reporters there. “This is one of the memories of the republic because the Armenians of France have contributed to our history and our country and their memory must be fully recognized.”
Macron also pledged to ensure, if elected, “continuity” in France’s policy towards Armenia. “I think that the last few years have allowed us to consolidate our stable, friendly and strong relations with Armenia,” he said.
Three days later, Macron’s presidential candidacy was officially endorsed by the CCAF, an umbrella structure uniting the leading French-Armenian organizations. It cited his positions on not only Armenian issues but also “the difficult fight for the recovery of France.”
“We too are convinced that it is through a consolidation beyond the traditional division lines that the crises will be solved,” the CCAF co-chairmen, Ara Toranian and Mourad Papazian, said in a letter to the former French minister of economy.
Macron’s challenger in Sunday’s run-off vote, far-right leader Marine Le Pen, also made pro-Armenian statements during the election campaign. Le Pen paid tribute to the French Armenians and said that Karabakh should be “reunified with Armenia.”
Another major candidate, former Prime Minister Francois Fillon, likewise declared last month that Karabakh was “arbitrarily detached from Armenia” by Joseph Stalin in 1921. Fillon also blamed Azerbaijan for the April 2016 fighting in Karabakh.
France has long maintained a warm rapport with Armenia. Its outgoing President Francois Hollande and his predecessors, Nicolas Sarkozy and Jacques Chirac, have paid high-profile official visits to Yerevan. The Armenian government will underline these close ties when it hosts next year a summit of La Francophonie, a grouping of over 70 mainly French-speaking nations.