French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday recognized his country’s role in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, from backing a genocidal regime to ignoring warnings of the impending massacres, AFP reports.
Macron kicked off a highly symbolic visit to Rwanda after three decades of diplomatic tensions, with a tour of the Kigali Genocide Memorial, where he paid tribute to some 800,000 mostly Tutsis who were slaughtered in the killings.
“Standing here today, with humility and respect, by your side, I have come to recognize our responsibilities,” Macron said in a speech at the Kigali Genocide Memorial.
His highly anticipated speech did not contain a formal apology, but he went further than his predecessors and said that only those who had survived the horrors “can maybe forgive, give us the gift of forgiveness.”
Rwandan President Paul Kagame hailed Macron’s speech, speaking to reporters after the two leaders met.
“His words were something more valuable than an apology. They were the truth,” Kagame said.
Macron is the first French leader since 2010 to visit the East African nation, which has long accused France of complicity in the killings.
Macron said France “was not complicit” in the genocide.
“But France has a role, a story and a political responsibility to Rwanda. She has a duty: to face history head-on and recognize the suffering she has inflicted on the Rwandan people by too long valuing silence over the examination of the truth”.