Remarks by President Serzh Sargsyan at the meeting with the representatives of the Armenian community of Marseille
Remarks by Serzh Sargsyan in Marseille
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Delegates, Members of the City Council,
I thank the Mayor of Marseille and a great friend of the Armenian people Jean-Claude Gaudin for this warm reception and wonderful gathering. Moreover, I am also thankful to him for his undying devotion to the Armenian people and Armenia cause.
During each visit to the Armenian communities abroad, I am overwhelmed with pride because I see the measure of success that our compatriots have achieved.
Marseille truly has a special role not only in the history of the Armenian Diaspora but also in the history of the Armenian nation. One of the greatest seaports of the Mediterranean, Marseille had accepted the exiles, the people who had gone through humane privations but had not lost their faith in humanity and creation.
Many of those, who had survived the Genocide, established themselves in Marseille. Today, their descendants live here. Lives of your parents and ancestors were documented and presented artistically by Hendi Vernouille in his movie “Mother”. The first episode of the movie shows how destitute Armenians, who didn’t have shelter above their heads, follow in Marseille the court proceedings over Soghomon Tehlirian. Every piece of news from the process in Berlin reverberated with the Armenians gathered at the Marseille port. And those people rejoiced when the news of Tehlirian’s acquittal reached them. It was not a rapture of revenge but the rapture of justice.
Every Armenian, no matter where he or she is – Armenia, Artsakh, or Spyurk, demand justice. We preach neither hatred nor revenge regardless of how those who deny the Armenian Genocide have been trying to lead us toward and compel to do that. They simply underestimate us.
We were strong enough to survive the Great Eghern, and now, we are strong enough to demand justice. After the elimination of our ancestors in their homeland, elimination of the memories of the Armenian Genocide is the last phase of that horrendous crime. But we are united, and will never allow that.
The progressive world is with us and the Mayor’s speech, as well as the most recent events, has demonstrated quite clearly the position of France and her people regarding this issue. I would like to assure my compatriots that the recent visit of President Nicolas Sarkozy to Yerevan was a historic visit indeed, and no other state leader have spoken the words about our nation’s pains, related to the Armenian-Turkish relations and the Genocide, and we should be grateful to the wise President of this glorious country.
We have no doubt that Turkey will repent. It is neither a precondition, nor an attempt to fire revenge. Turkey must face its own history. Sometime, the Turkish leadership will find strength and will reevaluate its approaches toward the Armenian Genocide.
Our position has not altered and it is precise: We are ready to have normal relations with Turkey as it befits neighboring states. Neighboring states such as, for instance, Poland and Germany, whose Chancellor Willi Brandt, realizing the crimes of his own country, went down on his knees in the Warsaw Ghetto.
Sooner of later, Turkey, which views itself as a European country, will have a leadership which will be worthy of being called European and which will bow head at the Tsitsernakaberd Memorial. The sooner, the better, however it’s a prerogative of the people of Turkey. We don’t obligate them; they should do it for the benefit of the Turkish people, just as Willi Brandt did for the German people.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
As Mr. Mayor has said, my delegation has arrived to Marseille to participate at the convention of the European People’s Party. Regardless of the anticipated and attained results, this is a considerable achievement on Armenia’s road toward Europe. I would like to tell my compatriots that today the President of the European People’s Party in the Great Hall while handing me a EPP badge said that we are members of the European family. It is a substantial achievement for us. It is also important for us that such a momentous event has taken place in Marseille – a city which is very dear to us.
We have stated more than once that European direction is our priority. In recent years, we have registered considerable success in that area. European Union has not only become one of our most important partners in the world but also plays a significant role inside Armenia, assisting us in the implementation of the reforms and in strengthening economic and overall stability of the country.
We are also working hard to ensure Armenia’s worthy place and role in the pan-European structures, and it is true from the viewpoint of the entire political structure. Today, the political field of Armenia also becomes European, adopting European values, and I hope, the work style too.
And with this regard also, I would like to express special thanks to our European partners and, particularly, to the President of France – a great friend of the Armenian people, for supporting our efforts.
Who, if not the Armenians of Europe, can help us, the Motherland in fulfilling this task? Today, the institute of dual citizenship is really working. In fact, a psychological barrier, which was impeding many in the Diaspora, has been eliminated. I am stating with pleasure that many of the Diaspora Armenians are having a vivid and direct participation in Armenia’s life. I have a little problem to articulate this word – Diaspora Armenian – because its sounds uncanny to me. You see, Armenians are Armenians, not matter where they live.
Of course, it is not easy. It is not easy to leave familiar places and start something new in the native but also unfamiliar Motherland. Thus, it is necessary to freely and openly discuss the existing problems so that European rules of the game prevail in Armenia. To point out the faults is only half of the job. We have registered considerable progress but we also have well-known problems, issues. It is necessary to look jointly for the ways to solve them and to share the honor of success and of responsibility.
We invite you all to participate in the noble work of solving Armenia’s problems. We address our relatives in Spyurk as our family members. And by the right of blood we should discuss the existing problems together. We should discuss the problems and not shy away from our share of responsibility. And I am, of course, the first person, who’s responsible for these faults. But I want you all to take part, to share with us the responsibility and, as I have already said, the honor of success.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In conclusion, I would like to share joyous news with you. I am sure many of you know, but maybe not all of you: on the eve of this visit, I signed a decree on the establishment of the Consulate General of the Republic of Armenia in Marseille. From now on, Yerevan and Marseille will be linked by another strong brotherly bond and along with the traditional Armenian establishments you will have also the Consulate General of our country. And, I certainly thank Mr. Sirmakes for his participation.
Establishment of the Consulate General in the context of close Armenian-French relations and versatile cooperation will make rendering of consular services more efficient. I would like to conclude by once again expressing gratitude to France and the Armenian-French community, residents of Marseille and, particularly, to the Armenians of Marseille for their attitude, their fervor and for their success because any Armenian, anywhere in the world, who has become successful makes Armenia even more recognizable. Thank you very much. I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to Mr. Jean-Claude Gaudin for everything he has done and I am truly pleased to invite him to conduct a visit to Yerevan.