From Karabakh Conflict to Trade Turnover and the Criminalization of the Denial – Press Conference of the Ambassador of the Republic of France
21.06.2016
11:00
St. Petersburg meeting for resolving the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, the current process of Armenian-French economic and trade cooperation and the possibility of adoption of the bill criminalizing Armenian Genocide denial by the French Parliament. These are the main issues that the French Ambassador M. Jean-François Charpentier referred during the press conference at Media Center on June 21.

St. Petersburg meeting – positive initiative

The ambassador highly appreciated the results of the summit initiated by the official Moscow with the participation of the Presidents of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan about the regulation of Nagorno Karabakh conflict on June 20. “The meeting of the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan is a good sign itself. Two meetings were held in one month. The first was in Vienna initiated by the USA State Secretary John Kerry and the second was in Saint Petersburg. Communication and dialogue take place that tends to the adoption of trust mechanisms which is a good sign as there cannot be a political resolution without a dialogue,” the Ambassador said.

During the meeting in Petersburg the Presidents adopted a joint statement by which the parties reaffirmed their commitment to the peace process, to resume negotiations and to maintain the ceasefire. After the meeting, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that "concrete steps have been planned" for the negotiation process in the trilateral statement of the agreed text. In addition, the parties agreed to increase the number of OSCE observers, who work in the conflict zone. The presidents also agreed to continue the meetings, as well as the trilateral format, "in addition to the work of OSCE Minsk Group."

According to him, the fact that the parties agreed to continue meetings and discussions is a positive initiative. "Without going into the details of the regulation process, I, as the representative of  the Minsk Group co-chairing country, I would emphasize once again the willingness of France to accompany this process," said Charpentier, not excluding the possibility that the next meeting could take place with the mediation of France. "Why not," the Ambassador replied to the question whether it is possible to have a meeting of the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan with the mediation of France in the future.

In this context, he recalled the agreement made at the meeting in St. Petersburg that other meetings are expected. "It's also about such meetings like the summit in St. Petersburg. We have always stressed our readiness to hold meetings in France, "said the Ambassador, adding that the activities on the implementation of confidence-building mechanisms along the front line go on in Vienna now. According to him, the formation of confidence-building mechanisms is a key and important issue. "The OSCE continues to work in this direction," he said.

A New Bill Criminalizing the Denial of the Armenian Genocide

By the request of the journalists, France's Ambassador spoke also about the possibility of adopting a new bill criminalizing the Armenian Genocide denial. He said that the new text of the bill is almost ready and we will soon "hear about this." "However, the bill applies not only to the denial of the Armenian Genocide but all other genocides recognized by France," the diplomat said.

The adoption of the Armenian Genocide bill was one of the campaign promises of French President Francois Hollande.

Jean-François Charpentier recalled French President Francois Hollande's speech this year in January during the coordination meeting of the Armenian institutions in France, when he "clearly stated" that it is necessary to re-start the process of adoption of the bill penalizing the denial of genocides. "Now I can say that clear instructions were given to the former President of the European Court of Human Rights Jean-Paul Costa, so he set to work on developing a new bill. The text of the bill is almost ready. So, we will hear about it soon," he added.

Concerns

At the Press Conference the Ambassador spoke about Armenia-France relations, especially the small size of mutual trade turnover was emphasized, which does not satisfy the French side. Although, according to the Ambassador, the bilateral political relations are on the "excellent level" but the annual turnover is around 50 million euros.

“This is a small indicator. Trade cooperation does not meet the high level of bilateral political and cultural relations. I always raise this issue," the French diplomat said, adding that he would do everything in order the economic relations between the two countries are more dynamic. "The reason is that the businessmen of the two countries are not aware of each other's capacities. We should work on this,” he added.

Another important aspect of the Armenian-French relations is the cooperation within the framework of the organization of Francophone countries. Here, too, the diplomat shared "concerning information". The point is that the number of French holders is reduced. "It should increase as Armenia is a full member of La Francophonie for already 3 years. However, if the number of French holders was 93.000 before the independence, it reduced to 35.000 after the independence. These are approximate figures, however, they show that the number of French holders was reduced by about three times in Armenia," he said.

Arshaluys Mghdesyan, editor/events coordinator at “Media Center”

To contact the author please send an email to arshaluismghdesyan@pjc.am.

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