PARIS–Karabakh President Arkady Ghoukassian and the delegation with which he was on an official visit to France were the dinner guests of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Central Committee of France on Sunday–May 24. The Armenian National Committee of France was also present at the event.
After ARF France Central Executive representative Hagop Yenikomshian welcomed the guests–Dickran Shirvanian presented the life and activities of the ARF in France–Holland and Belgium and highlighted two examples in France.
Shirvanian first spoke about the forthcoming French Senate recognition of the Armenian Genocide of 1915–and said–"The Armenian National Committee was the only Armenian organization invited to an official hearing by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee." Ara Krikorian represented the ANC.
The second example Shirvanian recognized was the role of the ARF in the international arena with regard to the Karabakh conflict resolution process. He reported that the day following former Armenian President Levon Ter Petrosyan’s resignation–Minsk Group Co-Chairman George Vogier called ARF representatives to a meeting. Following an hour and a half discussion–Vogier said to the five ARF delegates "Even though you are French–even though we live 3000 km away from Karabakh–listening to you speak makes me feel that I am in Stepanakert. You are almost exactly reiterating what we hear from Karabakh officials."
Directing his comment to President Ghoukassian–Shirvanian said–"This only means that we have understood you well. We almost naturally want what you want. Today–you continue what began with Sardarabad and will one day definitely take the path of Erzerum and Van. Your and our objectives are the same and we proceed side by side on the long and difficult path of the Armenian Cause."
In his message–President Ghoukassian highly praised the ARF both in the past and the future–acknowledging its significant and decisive role in the liberation struggle and in the establishment of an Armenian state. The ARF–he said–is what upheld in the Diaspora the idea of freedom and statehood– Armenian national spirit–Armenian language and literature.
He continued saying–"History provided you with the right to do so. That needs to drive you toward modesty and generosity toward your enemies of yesterday. It is useless to constantly remind them of their wrongs–because that might endanger the national unity necessary today. You have to accept working alongside others while knowing that you are mostly responsible for the work as you are the most prominent organization in the Diaspora. For example–you must resume your role in the Armenian Fund without impertinence toward the others involved. The main objective of the Armenia Fund is to assist Karabakh and it cannot be successful without the participation of the ARF."
Regarding the Karabakh conflict–Ghoukassian said–"You have experience in politics and diplomacy and we have to utilize that. When George Vogier invites you to a meeting–we know that you will support our stance and that is very important for us–because he–as a French and a European diplomat will realize that we are not alone–the Diaspora is alongside us–it is also a party to the Karabakh issue. He cannot ignore this reality."
Ghoukassian expressed his commitment to working with the ANC of France–because France as the European Union representative in the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship–is the most significant state next to the US in the Karabakh conflict resolution process. In order to fortify and make more productive existing relations–Ghoukassian suggested that a direct link be established between the ANC of France and the Foreign Ministry of Karabakh through the Karabakh representative in France Varoujan Krikorian.
Ghoukassian invited the ANC of France to visit Karabakh to determine its tasks in Europe–specifically within the realm of the European Council. He also suggested that the ARF carry out work to initiate and encourage investment in Karabakh’s economy.
Discussion continued throughout the three hour dinner.