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Revision as of 16:36, 12 October 2018

Francophonie Summit Starts In Armenia

Հոկտեմբեր 11, 2018

Armenia hosted on Thursday a summit of the Paris-based Francophonie organization attended by French President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the leaders of three dozen other French-speaking nations.

The two-day summit, also attended by government delegations from over 40 other states, is the largest international forum ever held in Yerevan. It highlights what the current and former Armenian governments have described as Armenia’s “privileged relationship” with France.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan opened the gathering with a speech delivered in French.

“I and all Armenian people are happy to host in Yerevan the 17th summit of the heads of Francophone states and governments,” he said. “Welcome to Armenia!”

“Armenia is a young member of the Francophonie … and yet there is no need to prove its commitment to promoting cultural and linguistic diversity and fundamental values of the French language and the Francophonie,” he said. Those values include respect for democracy and human rights, added the Armenian leader.

Armenia and Moldova are the only former Soviet republics among the Francophonie’s 54 full members. The three Baltic states, Georgia and Ukraine have an observer status in the organization

Macron also addressed the summit, describing the Francophonie nations as a global and diverse “family” that can contribute to international peace which he said is under growing threat.

“We do not have the same skin color, our gods do not bear the same names and some of us do not believe in God,” he said. “We also live in very different climate zones and our songs are not similar. Our histories do not originate from the same sources and there have been many wounds between us which are only now starting to heal.”

“Yet strangely enough, this diverse family is united around a single language … That language does not belong to anyone, it belongs to all of us,” declared Macron.

While in Yerevan, the French president is expected to hold talks with Pashinian. The two men most recently met in Paris on October 5 when the French government organized a national homage to Charles Aznavour, the legendary French singer of Armenian descent who died earlier this month.

Pashinian paid tribute to Aznavour in his speech. At his request, the summit participants remembered the late crooner with rapturous applause.

One of the highlights of the summit will be the election of the new head of the Francophonie. Rwanda's Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo is widely expected to replace Canadian Michaelle Jean as the organization’s secretary general.

France and the African Union publicly backed Mushikiwabo earlier this year. Canada’s government withdrew its support for Jean ahead of the Yerevan summit.