France should go further to penalize Armenian Genocide denial – Benoît Hamon

French Presidential candidate Benoît Hamon says if elected he will continue to participate in events commemorating the Armenian Genocide so that “this genocide is never forgotten.”

“The genocide of the Armenians of 1915 is a major event in the history of the twentieth century, a trauma for the whole humanity and of course especially for the French of Armenian origin and therefore for France. If I am elected President of the Republic, I will of course continue to participate in this commemoration so that this genocide is never forgotten,” Hamon said in an interview with Nouvelles d’Armenie. He hopes to visit the Yerevan Genocide Memorial one day.

“The Armenian community of France has all my admiration because it is an exemplary model of integration. The French of Armenian origin have contributed greatly to France, in various fields. They have often shown their love for France,” he said.

“As regards the struggle for recognition of the Armenian genocide, the efforts of not only the French of Armenian origin but also many of our fellow citizens of all origins are admirable and legitimate. If France was one of the first countries to recognize the Armenian genocide in 2001, I also realize that today more than ever, we must go further. In the words of Jean Jaures, “humanity can no longer live with the corpse of a murdered people in its cellar” and it was in 1897, 18 years before the genocide of 1915. Even if the legal channels to allow the penalization of the negation of the crime of genocide met the obstacles we know, we must not give up. In addition, there are many ways to sustain this memory, so that mass crimes committed in the past can never happen again,” Benoît Hamon said.

“The relations of friendship between France and Armenia are very strong and I hope that they will develop. Let us not forget that history binds us: the last king of Armenia rests in the basilica of Saint-Denis, next to the kings of France and in 1915, the French navy helped the Armenians of Cilicia. I wish to strengthen this relationship with Armenia, which has been asked too often to make a “civilizational choice” between Russia and the European Union. Things are not as simple, but I am convinced that France must be a privileged partner of Armenia. This is done on the economic level of course, since France is the first European investor in Armenia. But this can also be done at the level of decentralized cooperation between the French and Armenian regional authorities,” the presidential candidate said.

Benoît Hamon  said “France has a special responsibility as co-chair of the Minsk Group alongside Russia and the United States” to contribute to the settlement of the Karabakh conflict.

“The urgency of finding a solution to this conflict came suddenly to remember us during the violent clashes – the most violent in 20 years – that took place from 2 to 5 April. We have seen evidence that the expression “frozen conflict” is inadequate to describe a situation that causes many deaths every year. France has a special responsibility as co-chair of the Minsk Group alongside Russia and the United States. It immediately mobilized with its partners to obtain the ceasefire of 5 April. However, it would be a serious and dangerous mistake to consider that the situation is now stabilized. The clashes can resume at any moment, with incalculable consequences for the whole region. This situation requires everyone to find a solution to this conflict which has lasted too long. The elements of a regulation are known. These are the Madrid Principles made public in 2010. Elected President of the Republic, I would naturally be ready to organize another meeting to take concrete steps along this path. While there are increasing uncertainties at the international level, it is only time to put an end to this conflict, which is penalizing populations, hampering the development of both states, and maintaining a climate of instability detrimental to the entire region. Now is the time for everyone to take responsibility. This is what will have to be said to President Aliyev and President Sargsyan. The basis of an agreement is possible.”

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