PARIS—The Coordinating Council of Armenians Organizations in France (CCAF) held its annual gala on Tuesday, which was attended by French President Emanual Macron and Garo Paylan, the outspoken Armenian member of the Turkish Parliament representing the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), both of whom elevated the need to uphold human rights in Turkey and around the world.
In his remarks, Macron pledged to add an Armenian Genocide commemoration day to the French calendar, which according to Agence France Presse was a campaign promise during France’s last contentious presidential elections.
“The fight for justice and recognition is our fight, we are leading it by memory by supporting the Republican calendar of a day for the commemoration of the genocide,” said Macron, who stressed that it was “essential that the national representation recovers from this subject in the coming months.”
Macron, who during a meeting with President Serzh Sarkisian last week said he will visit Armenia in October to attend the Francophonie Summit, was the guest of honor at the CCAF’s annual gala, which brought together 500 community members and political officials to fete the accomplishments of the Armenian community.
Also in attendance were Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, the President of the Île-de-France region Valérie Pécresse, the French elected officials of Armenian origin as Patrick Devedjian or the Mayor of Lyon Georges Képénékian, as well as Jewish community leaders.
In their remarks, CCAF Co-Chairs Ara Toranian and Mourad Papazian urged Macron to condemn Turkey, which they accused of threatening minorities, including Armenians, and also called on him to visit Artsakh.
“I hope to come with you [to Karabakh] the day we have resolved all this,” Macron said to roaring applause from the crown when addressing the CCAF leaders’ invitation, adding that he were to visit Artsakh now it would diminish the role France is playing in the mediation process.
“I will not accompany you to Karabakh” because “I will lose all the good France has done for this conflict as a mediator,” Macron said about visiting Artsakh.
Commenting on the statement, CCAF co-chair Papazian, who is a member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Bureau, told Public Radio of Armenia in an interview that “this is an important remark, because it indicates that Mr. Macron sees only a pro-Armenian solution to the issue.”
“On Turkey, I engaged in a regular and demanding dialogue with President Erdogan, sometimes away from the media,” replied the head of state. “On terrorism, the migration crisis,” we need allies, including those who do not share our values,” he said.
“Of course we agree [on dialogue with Erdogan], but we want issues of democracy, human rights and Armenian Genocide recognition to be put on the table. Macron said he was planning to have a comprehensive dialogue with Erdogan and pledged to raise the Armenian Genocide issue at the meetings,” Papazian told Public Radio of Armenia.
Macron warmly greeted Paylan and said that France “supports the courageous voices that rise.”
The two held a brief meeting during which they discussed issues of human right in Turkey, as well as Turkey’s recent military campaign in Syria with both expressing concern over the recent developments.
Papazian characterized Paylan’s meeting with Macron as very important since he said “Paylan’s life is danger in Turkey.”