YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 21, ARMENPRESS. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and French President Emmanuel Macron made statements for media representatives before the meeting at the Élysée Palace.
According to the readout issued by the Prime Ministers office, the French President said in his speech.
"Mr. Prime Minister,
Ladies and Gentlemen Ministers,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I want to thank dear Nikol for being in Paris on this important day. February 21 is the day when Missak Manouchian and his comrades of the resistance movement were killed for the freedom of France, and the motherland fully recognized them and they will rest in the Pantheon. Missak Manouchian and his wife Mélinée will rest in the Pantheon, where France enshrines its great people. It is also the gratitude of France for the struggle for freedom.
Your presence today is very important to all of us. I once again want to tell you, to reiterate, that you can count on France's support for Armenia, its independence, territorial integrity, democratic process and peaceful aspirations.
I would also like to salute, dear Nikol, your personal courage and determination to move forward on this path. Armenia's membership in the International Criminal Court is also a shining example of this commitment. At this moment, as we commemorate Missak and Mélinée Manouchians, war crimes continue on the continent of Europe, and the fight for freedom, more than ever, requires a fight against impunity.
During our meeting we will be able to talk about the discussions aimed at the normalization of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The recent incidents in Syunik prove that the danger of escalation remains real. France regrets that an Azerbaijani was wounded as a result of the shooting on February 12, which was also accepted by the Armenian leadership with full transparency, but France expresses regret for the disproportionate retaliatory strike by Azerbaijan, as a result of which the Armenian side suffered four deaths and one wounded. France will continue to support efforts towards a just and lasting peace. We are convinced that this can only be achieved by respecting international law, sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of borders.
At the Prague meeting in 2022, you and Aliyev reaffirmed your commitment to the Alma-Ata Declaration, and it is necessary for Azerbaijan to dispel ambiguities. I think it is more than necessary for Azerbaijan to dispel any ambiguity regarding the territorial integrity of Armenia, as far as maps are concerned, then conscientious work should be done for border delimitation and demarcation, which will serve as a basis for the withdrawal of forces from both sides of the border.
We also call for the implementation of the decision of the International Court of Justice of November 17, 2023. According to this decision, Azerbaijan must ensure that persons who have left Nagorno-Karabakh since September 19, 2023 and who wish to return can do so safely, unhindered and quickly.
We want the South Caucasus to be a region of peace, integration and cooperation, and it is necessary for communication channels to be factors assisting integration and not division. I have visited Central Asia and I want communication links between Central Asia, the South Caucasus and the European Union to develop. And I welcome your "Crossroads of Peace" initiative in this shared ambition.
We will also discuss issues aimed at strengthening bilateral cooperation. France will continue to support infrastructure development in Armenia with the participation of our companies. We will also continue to develop cooperation in the field of defense. France has given its consent for the delivery of defense military equipment. And in this area France will continue in the spirit of responsibility, not wanting any escalation.
France also continues its humanitarian commitment to the refugees of Nagorno-Karabakh, providing 29 million euros in aid in 2023.
France will continue to resolutely support the development of relations between the European Union and Armenia. Here, too, we are making progress in favor of sovereignty and our common strategic interests. The observation mission of the European Union has been strengthened. It aims to contribute to stability, delivering unbiased information to the international community and the security of vulnerable populations in military contact zones. Armenia should also take advantage of the European instruments of peace. The European Union and Armenia want a timetable for a new partnership.
These are the few aspects I wished to remind. And you know that beyond words, France stands by Armenia because justice, freedom and international law are important to us.
Once again, I want to salute the courage and on the occasion of this special day, I reaffirm France's support to Armenia and all Armenians."
In turn, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan noted.
"Thank you, honorable Mr. President, dear Emmanuel. First of all, I want to thank you for today's invitation and for making me and the delegation of the Republic of Armenia a participant in this truly historic and emotional event.
Today we will be present at the ceremony of enshrining the remains of one of the heroes of the French Resistance, our compatriot Missak Manouchian, in the Pantheon of the greatest French citizens, and it is a great honor for us to be present at today's event and ceremony. I think today's event also shows the depth of existing relations between our countries and peoples, because they are not only political, economic, human, cultural ties, but I think we are connected by a deep, emotional connection. And I also want to thank you for the decision you made, because, indeed, this once again emphasizes not only our friendship and the depth of our relations, but is also a unique and special appreciation to the Armenians who contributed to the accomplishment of France, which is an honor and a great pride for us.
I want to express my gratitude for highlighting that contribution. With your permission, I should also emphasize that this year we have a similar event with a very deep context. This year is the 100th anniversary of Charles Aznavour, and I hope that in September in Yerevan we will participate together in the gala concert dedicated to Aznavour's 100th anniversary. And I want, Mr. President, to emphasize once again my invitation to you to visit the Republic of Armenia on a state visit.
I should also note that the relations between Armenia and France are at an exceptional dynamic stage. And here, of course, you have a special personal role, Mr. President, and I want to emphasize that, and thank you for your approach to the development and deepening of our relations. Our ties are deepening in the field of economy, our ties are deepening politically. And I must also emphasize your contribution to creating a favorable environment around Armenia.
You mentioned the quadrilateral meeting in Prague on October 6, 2022, where, in fact, cornerstone principles of regional peace and stability were highlighted. I am sure that if these principles are adhered to, peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan is indeed achievable and realistic. And once again I emphasize our committment to the agreements reached.
Mr. President, I specially want to thank you for your support in the resilience of Armenia. You emphasized that in the field of defense, in fact, we have established new relations, which is essential for ensuring security and stability in the region. In that regard, it is known that there are criticisms, and I want to emphasize that the Republic of Armenia, as I said, recognizes the territorial integrity of all its neighbors. And in this sense, the development of the defense capabilities of the Republic of Armenia cannot cause worries for anyone, because our only task is to form the right balance in the region and only to protect the legitimate, sovereign, internationally recognized territory, borders, territorial integrity, and independence of the Republic of Armenia and increasing the resilience of our country.
I also want to to express my special thanks to you for your support to the democratic reforms of Armenia. In this context, we are indeed entering a new dynamic phase in our relations with the European Union. And here I must emphasize the support of France and personally you, because the European Union is also of key importance for the implementation of democratic reforms and development of institutional capacities of our country.
Of course, today I will also have the opportunity to share with you thoughts about our region and the international situation. The last time we had a discussion was in Granada, and during this time some developments have taken place.
Also, I would like to share some information with you about the meeting and other discussions that took place in Munich a few days ago. And of course, there are many issues on our agenda and, fortunately, our agenda of bilateral relations and our cooperation on international platforms is very positive, very extensive. And it is important to have this opportunity here, although we do not forget that our main mission today is to honor the memory of all the heroes who sacrificed their lives and contributed to the independence and statehood of France.
Next, the meeting of the Prime Minister of Armenia and the French President took place, during which the consistent development and strengthening of multi-sectoral cooperation between Armenia and France, the processes taking place in the South Caucasus region, and other topics of mutual interest were discussed.