The French Ambassador in Armenia on the Charlie Hebdo Shooting and EU-Armenia Relations
France still has to face a problem of religious extremism despite actions and measures taken following the Charlie Hebdo shooting. H.E. Jean-François Charpentier, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of France in Armenia shared his thoughts at the Media Center press conference.

“The tragic events of the Charlie Hebdo magazine were aimed not only against France but the right to freedom of speech which we greatly value,” said the Ambassador, adding thousands of Frenchmen, immediately after the shooting, hurried to streets to show their support to the right to freedom of speech.

The events in France, the Ambassador said, were attended by a great number of foreign high officials, and Armenia delegated the Foreign Minister to the events.

Though two of the terrorists were identified and eliminated, it did not halt the issue of “religious extremism, fanatism, the Ambassador believes.

“France and other countries still have to cope with religious extremism,” he said and added a certain policy is employed to solve the issue in the French society and policy is adopted starting from school. In addition, the French authorities have become more determined in anti terrorism struggle, H.E. Jean-François Charpentier, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of France in Armenia said. 

The Ambassador commented the tragic events threw light upon a lot of problems. The French authorities have already tightened up the border control. However, they do not rush to make drastic shifts in the migration policy following the terrorism attack. “Migration requires a well-developed policy. Now there is a more careful and strict attitude towards migrants who are suspected to cross into France with bad intentions,” said the Ambassador without clarifying what he meant by “bad intentions.”

Armenia-EU Relations

The French business week this May will feature two aspects: fashion and design and winemaking facilities, the Ambassador told the Media Center. In 2015 Armenia will also host the second Armenian-French business forum.

Ambassador Charpentier described the enhancement of Armenian-French economic relations as a flagship direction of strengthening the countries’ relations in general.

“I have been in Armenian for three months already and chanced to meet diverse sector representatives, authorities, members of political, business, civil society entities,” he said, adding the economic relations of both countries have a great potential.

The Ambassador is not satisfied with the overall volume of trade over between the countries which, according to the official statistics, amounts to 50 million Euros. “It is essential to take advantage of instruments available for increasing this volume. The activities of the French-Armenian Chamber of Trade and Industry, the Armenian-French Business Club and the Armenian -French Development Foundation should be aimed at strengthening the economic relations,” Charpentier said.

The Ambassador noted that he does not have any precise calculations regarding the impact Armenia’s membership in the Eurasian Economic Union may have on the Armenia-EU relations and added he could not state when the EU-Armenia Association Agreement will be signed.

We do not have much time till the 2015 Riga Summit on the Eastern Partnership, only few months. The format and name of the agreement is unclear. The sides are currently drafting the format of cooperation. There are a lot of technical issues as well. The participation in Riga Summit is sure but it is still unknown what document will be signed,” the Ambassador explained.

The first Carrefour to open in March

The first French Carrefour hypermarket will open in Yerevan in March, the Ambassador told the Media Center.

He added Armenia’s membership in the Eurasian Economic Union, along with drastic increase of levies on goods imported from a third country, cannot affect the operation of the French hypermarket since it works mainly with local manufacturers.

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