Today President Serzh Sargsyan handed an official souvenir – an Armenian khachkar – to the Council of Europe. The model-plate of the khachkar was unveiled by President Serzh Sargsyan and CoE Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland.
At the end of the ceremony President Sargsyan showed the three-meter-high khachkar, situated in the yard, at the entrance of the Council of Europe building, to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, as well as Prime-Minister of Denmark Lars Løkke Rasmussen, who also participated in the ceremony.
“In line with the well-established and fine tradition and to mark the 65th anniversary of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in force, today Armenia donates to the Council of Europe a vivid token of Armenian nation’s historical and cultural heritage, a khachkar, a cross-stone. It is an honor and privelege for us that it will be erected in the heart of Strasbourg, under the protection of human rights and democracy, in order to signify our unswerving dedication to those values,” President Sargsyan said at the ceremony.
“The two-milenia long history of the art and craft of making cross-stones is also a manifestation of the contemporary Armenian culture: today the craftsmen continue to develop the historical tradition; they continue to skillfully reproduce and renew it, they continue to creatively review the tradition and introduce it anew,” he said.
“It is no coincidence that the art of the Armenian cross-stone, which creates an impression of eternity on a limited surface, is included in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List. This monument reflects the values that are the founding pillars of the Council of Europe. All the monuments of the cultural heritage in the Council of Europe area, undoubtedly, should benefit from the universally applied mechanisms of protection. And such a commitment should be guaranteed by any State that deems itself part and parcel of the values of civilization, Serzh Sargsyan said.
“Today’s ceremony, I believe, bears great symbolism for all of us, including the Armenian French community of Strasbourg, Alsace region and Armenian citizens employed here since it is the first Armenian monument erected in this part of France. Let it remind the visitors of this beautiful park of the inalienable and integral nature of the founding values of this organization,” he concluded.
Thorbjørn Jagland said, in turn, that “Marking the 65-th anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights entering into force, this present will act as a daily reminder of why we are here. To protect and promote human rights, democracy and the rule of law to the benefit of over 800 million citizens across all 47 of our member states.”
“The cross-stone and your personal presence here today President Sargsyan-are also a clear illustration of Armenia’s commitment to our values and to our pan-European legal space. In today’s challenging times for Europe, that attachment is all the more important and all the more appreciated,” the Secretary General said.
He noted that “since joining the Council of Europe in 2001, Armenia has taken significant steps to implement its obligations through a series of comprehensive domestic reforms.”
This process is still ongoing but significant progress has already been achieved. Among the latest developments, we have seen welcome constitutional reforms and we have noted the government’s determination to protect and promote women rights. This was illustrated by the recent adoption of a law on preventing and combating domestic violence. That in turn has paved the way for the signature of the Istanbul Convention,” Mr. Jagland said.
“Armenia also demonstrated sound leadership within the Organisation during its first chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers in 2013. During its term of office some major initiatives were carried out to reinforce our Court’s system, through the adoption of additional protocols to the European Convention,” the Council of Europe Secretary General said.
“So, as Armenia continues on the path to fully meeting its membership obligations and commitments, its people and authorities can count on the support of the Council of Europe. Meanwhile, we accept this gift with pleasure and gratitude,” he stated.