France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian met with his Armenian counterpart Edward Nalbandian in Paris on Friday for talks which the French Foreign Ministry said highlighted close relations between their countries.
“This meeting provided an opportunity to underscore the strength of the ties between France and Armenia,” the ministry said in a statement.
“The two ministers commended the quality of the political dialogue between the two countries, as well as the importance of our cooperation, one of the greatest successes of which is the French University of Armenia, which has educated several thousand Armenian students over the last 20 years. They agreed on the need to maintain this momentum, notably in the economic sphere,” it added.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry similarly reported that Nalbandian and Le Drian praised the “privileged” French-Armenian relationship reflecting, in large measure, the existence of a sizable and influential Armenian community in France.
Armenia will underline that rapport when it hosts next year a summit of Francophonie, a grouping of over 70 mainly French-speaking nations. French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to attend the summit in Yerevan. Preparations for the gathering were also on the agenda of the Paris talks.
Macron was endorsed by leading French-Armenian organizations ahead of a second round of voting in France’s April-May 2017 presidential election. He pledged to ensure “continuity” in France’s policy towards Armenia.
Nalbandian and Le Drian further discussed the implementation of the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) which Armenia and the European Union signed late last month. According to Nalbandian’s press office, they agreed that the landmark deal will give “new impetus” to bilateral French-Armenian ties as well.
With France co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group with the United States and Russia, the two ministers also spoke about recent developments in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process.
“Jean-Yves Le Drian assured his Armenian counterpart of France’s full commitment to supporting the efforts of the Co-Chairs of the Minsk Group to encourage a negotiated resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” read the French statement. “He underscored the importance of implementing the decisions made by the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents during their meeting in Geneva on October 16.”
At that meeting Presidents Serzh Sarkisian and Ilham Aliyev pledged to intensify the long-running negotiation process and bolster the ceasefire regime in the conflict zone. Their foreign ministers reported further progress after follow-up talks held in Vienna earlier this month.