YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — President Serzh Sarkisian on Thursday described Armenia’s relations with France as “privileged” and said they should be deepened further.
He visited the French Embassy in Yerevan to congratulate Ambassador Jean-Francois Charpentier and other diplomats on Bastille Day, France’s most important national holiday.
“President Sarkisian stressed that he is happy to use the occasion to reiterate that Armenia is proud of its privileged relationship with friendly France,” his office said in a statement.
Sarkisian also sent a congratulatory letter to French President Francois Hollande. “The existing high-level political dialogue and atmosphere of mutual trust between our friendly nations are a firm foundation for a further comprehensive strengthening of French-Armenian relations,” he wrote.
Sarkisian expressed confidence that Paris and Yerevan “will continue to deepen” bilateral ties.
Sarkisian thanked France for supporting Armenia on “all vital issues” when he met Hollande on Saturday on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Warsaw. The meeting focused on ongoing international efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
France has been spearheading those efforts together with the United States and Russia. Hollande has reportedly offered to host Sarkisian’s next meeting with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev expected later this year.
The Armenian leader praised the French involvement in the Karabakh peace process in his letter to Hollande.
French-Armenian relations have long been cordial not least because of the existence of a large and influential Armenian community in France. Hollande has twice visited Armenia during his presidency, most recently during last year’s official commemorations of the centenary of the 1915 Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey.
As recently as on July 1, France’s lower house of parliament passed a law making it a crime to deny this and other genocides officially recognized by the French state. Sarkisian on Thursday again praised the law and Hollande’s decisive role in its passage.