Remarks by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia Ararat Mirzoyan at the official opening ceremony of the Armenian Esplanade in Paris

10 December, 2021

On December 10, with the participation of the Foreign Minister of Armenia Ararat Mirzoyan and the Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo, the Armenian Esplanade was opened in Paris. Deputies, Senators, Officials, academics, representatives of the Armenian Community of France attended the event.

During the opening ceremony, Minister Mirzoyan delivered remarks, in which he particularly said:

“Dear Mrs. Mayor Anne Hidalgo,

Dear guests, friends,

Today I am honored to attend this historic event - the thrilling and at the same time encouraging opening ceremony of the Armenian Esplanade.

Here, at the heart of Paris, our friendly people of France once again pay tribute to Armenia and the Armenian people. This event is more than symbolic. One year after the bloody and exhausting war in Artsakh, the capital Paris expresses its solidarity towards us - the Armenians, opening yet another bright page of the Armenian-French friendship in the history of our privileged relations.

The ties of Armenia and Armenian people with the capital Paris have centuries-old history and are affluent with many episodes of cooperation and historical relations. They date back to the period of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia and continue through the following centuries, when Armenian merchants established active ties with the capital of France, strengthening the political and cultural ties between the Eastern Christian Communities and the Center of Europe. Symbolically, the last Armenian King Levon VI rests in the temple in one of the suburbs of Paris.

The significance of Paris in the lives of Armenian people especially increased at the beginning of the 20th century, when thousands of Armenians survivors of the Armenian Genocide and their descendants formed a large French-Armenian community in Paris and its vicinity, contributing to the development of this wonderful city.

We remember that Paris became one of the international centers where numerous Armenian immigrants and prominent cultural figures found refuge and gained a chance for a new life. Here, in Paris, under the warm hospitality of Parisians, have lived and created prominent French-Armenians Charles Aznavour, Misak Manouchian, Michel Legrand, Henri Troyat, Henri Verneuil, Jansem, Carzou, Zabel Yesaian, Shavarsh and Arpik Misakians and others.

After the fall of the First Republic of Armenia, the exiled Government of Armenia found refuge in Paris. Some of the founders of the First Republic Aharonian, Khatisian, Ter-Minasian and others are buried in the Pere Lachaise Cemetery of Paris.

The most active period of the warm friendship with Paris is connected with the three decades of the independence of Armenia when very close and comprehensive cooperation was established between Yerevan and Paris. One of the most tangible achievements of that cooperation in this recent years was the opening of the Paris branch of the Armenian Tumo Center of Creative Technologies, which was due to the initiative of the current Mayor Mrs. Hidalgo, and came to life thanks to her consistent efforts.

Dear friends,

I would like to especially emphasize that since the first day of the independence of Armenia, Paris, and Parisians have always been by the side of Armenia and Armenian people, accompanying and supporting us even at the hardest times. In this regard, I would like to recall another historical episode that is very telling in the context of today's event. In the late 1980s, when the Karabakh movement had just emerged and was consolidating day by day, Paris was one of the few international centers which, due to its public attention, took the leaders of the independence movement under its protection. The Paris Mayor of that time Jacques Chirac hosted the leaders of the "Karabakh" committee fighting for the reunification of Artsakh with Mother Armenia, in support of the cherished aspirations of the Armenian people.

Later on, the political and humanitarian support of Paris toward the fair aspirations of the Armenians of Artsakh was also immense. In this regard, the resolution on the recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh adopted by the Paris City Council due to the initiative of Mayor Anne Hidalgo a few days after the ceasefire of the bloody war in Artsakh was of great significance and clearly warned about the threat of physical annihilation and ethnic cleansing of the Armenians of Artsakh. It was addressed both to the French society and the international community. We highly value that humanitarian-political action, which was also accepted by wide circles of the Armenian society with great enthusiasm.

Honorable Mrs. Mayor,

Be assured that Armenia and the Armenian people highly value Your sincere friendship and devotion. On behalf of the Republic of Armenia, I express my deep gratitude for being by our side for years and for sharing our sorrow and joy with us. We remember all Your visits to Armenia with special warmth, and I assure that today and always you are welcomed in Armenia both as a partner and as a close and loyal friend.

Thanks to You, today the history of our centuries-old relations with Paris is enriched by another very important and symbolic episode - the opening of the Armenian Esplanade, which will host both the statue of Komitas and the Yerevan Park in its area. In this regard, I would also like to thank the Deputy Mayor of Paris Mr. Arnaud Ngatcha for pursuing the project, as well as the Head of the 8th arrondissement of Paris Mrs. Jeanne d’Hauteserre for the support on this matter. Finally, I thank all the members of the City Council of Paris for their unanimous support of this historical decision.

Dear friends, guests, and compatriots,

In conclusion, I would like to once again congratulate all of us on the occasion of the creation of this new and beautiful Armenian corner in the heart of Paris - the opening of the Esplanade of Armenia. On this occasion I have only one wish: peace and prosperity to the Armenian and French peoples, may the Armenian-French inviolable friendship last forever.

Long live Armenia and France, long live Yerevan and Paris, long live the friendship between our people.”

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