On March 13, a Grand Concert took place in the Assembly Hall of the Palace of Nations, the headquarters of the United Nations Office at Geneva, honouring Armenia – the host country of the 17th Summit of La Francophonie.
The concert, which was organized with the joint efforts of the permanent missions of La Francophonie and the Republic of Armenia to the United Nations Office at Geneva on the occasion of the International Francophonie Day, has been held with the exceptional participation of Charles Aznavour. Tigran Hamasyan, world-famous jazz pianist, André Manoukian, French Armenian songwriter and pianist, Armelle Khourdoian, French Armenian opera singer, and Toumanian Mek quartet also performed at the concert.
Mr. Michael Møller, Director General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, Mr. Dominique de Buman, President of the National Council of the Swiss Confederation, Ambassador Henri Monceau, Permanent Representative of La Francophonie to the UN Office at Geneva, and Mrs. Hasmik Tolmajyan, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Republic of Armenia to the UN Office at Geneva, delivered welcoming speeches.
In his opening remarks Mr. Michael Møller, Director General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, specifically welcomed this important initiative of the permanent missions of La Francophonie and Armenia.
Mr. Dominique de Buman, the President of the National Council of the Swiss Confederation, quoting the lyrics from Charles Aznavour’s song “Take me to the wonderland”, noted in particular that “Aznavour’s songs relate to everyone without exception, and each of us has their own wonderland. The wonderland for Charles Aznavour is Armenia, which we welcomed in the francophone family.” Armenia is a country, continued Mr. de Buman, “where you step in once and then keep it in your heart forever.”
Hasmik Tolmajyan, Deputy Permanent Representative of Armenia to the UN Office at Geneva, expressed in welcoming remarks her gratitude to the International Organization of La Francophonie for dedicating the grand event of La Francophonie to Armenia. She also pointed out that the decision adopted at the Antananarivo summit on holding the 17th Summit of La Francophonie in Yerevan was the reflection of the acknowledgement by member-states of La Francophonie of Armenia’s commitment to the Organization and its values. Deputy Permanent Representative underlined that the promotion of francophonie in the Armenian society was greatly influenced by the Armenian-French centuries-old friendship, as well as warm relations established with the francophone countries, in particular, Canada, Belgium, Switzerland, Lebanon, Egypt, Greece and Cyprus. It was further noted that La Francophonie is also an important platform for Armenia to strengthen the cooperation with those countries with which there are no traditionally developed close relationships. At the same time, Mrs. Tolmajyan underlined that Armenia, in its turn, also contributes to the promotion of La Francophonie in a region where the Organization has not been sufficiently represented. In this regard, it was recalled that Yerevan summit will be the second meeting of the Organization’s supreme body to be convened in the Eastern European region.
Mr. Henri Monceau, Permanent Representative of La Francophonie to the UN Office at Geneva, when speaking about the role of La Francophonie in the UN, noted that La Francophonie unites 84 countries on 5 continents, 54 of which are full-fledged member states. From the very beginning, creation of La Francophonie pursued the goal of establishing a platform for multilateral relations, the basis of which would be the French language and francophone cultural diversity.
Henri Monceau also spoke about the strategic importance of the presence of La Francophonie in Geneva, noting that the UN Office at Geneva is the only structure located in a francophone environment. The representative of La Francophonie also highlighted the mutual collaboration between the Francophonie and the UN Geneva Office in a number of programmes and initiatives.
The evening provided an opportunity for holding the first award ceremony by the Group of Francophone Ambassadors. Mr. Henri Monseau noted that “the prize was aimed at rewarding a person or an institution which, through its activities in 2017, had contributed to the promotion of francophone values in Geneva, namely, those of democracy, the rule of law, multilingualism and cultural diversity.” The first prize of Francophone Ambassadors was awarded to Mr. Michael Møller, Director General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, and Mr. Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein, High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The concert was attended by about 2000 guests, high-ranking representatives of the United Nations, Swiss federal and local authorities, numerous ambassadors, as well as representatives of the Swiss Armenian community.
The Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, the Geneva City Municipality, as well as Boghossian, Philossian and Philippossian, Izmirlian Foundations, the AGBU-Switzerland Committee and other non-governmental organizations have contributed to the organization of the evening.