French President Emmanuel Macron pledged to counter attempts to deny the 1915 Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey as his government joined France’s Armenian community in commemorating its 105th anniversary on Friday.
“On this April 24, France remembers the assassination in Constantinople of 600 Armenian intellectuals, which marked the beginning of the genocide,” Macron said in a letter to Armenia’s President Armen Sarkissian.
“France is today more than ever committed to defending the memory of the victims, combating denial of the genocide and carrying the universal lessons of this page of tragic history,” he wrote.
“In accordance with commitments made by me, my country last year declared April 24 the day of commemoration of the Armenian genocide. While ensuring strict compliance with the restrictions imposed by the current health situation, I decided that this day will be marked again this year by a restricted ceremony in Paris in the presence of representatives of the French government,” added Macron.
Those representatives led by French Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet laid a wreath at a memorial in Paris to some 1.5 million of victims of the Armenian genocide. A senior official from the French Foreign Ministry reportedly spoke at the ceremony which was also attended by Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, leaders of the influential French-Armenian community as well as Armenia’s ambassador to France, Hasmik Tolmajian.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe led a similar commemoration event held there in April 2019. “France intends to contribute to the recognition of the Armenian genocide as a crime against humanity, against civilization,” Philippe said at the time.
France formally recognized the Armenian genocide with a special law enacted in 2001. In 2018, Macron decided to assign an official day of commemoration for the Armenians massacred by the Ottoman Turks during the First World War. The move was hailed by Armenia but strongly condemned by Turkey.
In his letter to Sarkissian, Macron also mentioned the coronavirus pandemic, saying that it poses a new grave challenge to the world. “We will confront these challenges together, and I know that France and Armenia will work together in international forums in favor of more effective multilateralism and new forms of solidarity,” he said.
“Whatever the ordeals, Armenians can count on the friendship of France,” concluded the French leader.