Foreign visits

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s Working Visit to the French Republic

05.10.2018 - 06.10.2018

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Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, his spouse Mrs. Anna Hakobyan, President of the Republic of Armenia Armen Sarkissian and his spouse Mrs. Nune Sarkissian, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, His Holiness Karekin II attended the national homage ceremony for world-renowned Armenian chansonnier Charles Aznavour, which was held at the Palace of Invalids (Hotel des Invalides) in Paris.

The event was attended by French President Emmanuel Macron and his spouse Mrs. Brigitte Macron, former French Presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande, French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe, prominent public, political and cultural figures, as well as representatives of the Armenian community of France.

The French National Guard Orchestra performed the national anthems of Armenia and France, after which Prime Minister Pashinyan and President Macron approached Charles Aznavour’s family members and expressed condolences to them.

In his speech, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan stated, in part:
“Honorable Mr. President of the French Republic,
Honorable President of the Republic of Armenia,
Mr. Prime Minister,
Ladies and Gentlemen, Parliamentarians,
Ladies and Gentlemen, Representatives of Government and Diplomatic Corps,
Dear Ulla Aznavour,
Dear Aznavour family members,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today, we are here to pay homage to French chanson’s Great Master Charles Aznavour.

For about eight decades, his name made millions of faces smile, accelerated or slowed down the breath of tens of millions of people, sparkling in hundreds of millions of eyes. On October 1, 2018, this name dropped the world and the course of international life by placing an unbearable glimpse of sadness on the faces of hundreds of millions of people, releasing its latest and most massive poster on front pages of the world’s leading media: “Charles Aznavour dies, aged 94."

What did all these titles and headlines mean after all: vanity or despair? Not at all, these posters were telling about this great man’s and his dynasty’s glorious victory over destiny. Charles Aznavour’s ancestors escaped from the Armenian Genocide and eventually settled in France, which hosted hundreds of thousands of Armenians. Here, Vaghinak Aznavouryan was born who was to be known to the world as Charles Aznavour

After defying many challenges, Vaghinak-Charles finally found his calling, but no one believed in his success except for himself. Everyone tried to dissuade him by saying that the stage was not his job; singing was not his calling, and that destiny had been too generous to him by saving his parents from the Genocide. But Vaghinak Aznavouryan needed no compassion but a mission, and he knew his mission, and that mission was an incredible way to grow into Charles Aznavour

And he sang and wrote, and he wrote and sang in empty and half-empty halls, and he sang tirelessly, and gave the mankind sufficient notice to understand and realize that a great star was emerging in the world of culture that had to “explode” the globe’s most prestigious halls for the next couple of decades.
And his voice was spread all over the world; it reached the most distant countries and was able to warm up even the coldest hearts.

To my greatest regret, I did not manage to get acquainted with the great Maestro. But believe me, I perceive him as a close relative of mine just as any other Armenian does, since every Armenian thinks of him as a kind of kinsman who has carried our name to the world, who gave us a new sense of pride and a new tint by entertaining his historical homeland’s and nation’s pains, concerns and dreams.

This is why Charles Aznavour was awarded the title of National Hero of Armenia. But he had earned this title not only for his singer’s genius, but also for his undeniable merit in the establishment of the Republic of Armenia.

Streets and public squares are called after his name in Armenia; his statue has been standing in Armenia’s second largest city of Gyumri for many years now, and he is probably the only person in Armenia who has been staged during his lifetime.

A day of national mourning will be marked in Armenia in connection with the passing of Charles Aznavour as an expression of the greatest love that every Armenian has for the great Frenchman and the great citizen of the world.

Honorable President of the French Republic, Mr. Emmanuel Macron,

As we bid the last farewell to Charles Aznavour, I cannot help conveying our people’s feeling of special respect and deep gratitude for your country. And on behalf of the entire Armenian nation, I would like to express gratitude to the French Republic and to all Frenchmen for giving refuge to our compatriots who survived the Genocide, as well as for providing a propitious environment for the development of Armenian talents, such as Charles Aznavour, Henry Verneuil, George Garvarents, Garzou, Jansem. Thus, France has become a favorite oasis for our people’s revival.

Indeed, Charles Aznavour was a great devotee of France, a great French citizen, an unparalleled distributor of the French language, and in the meantime, he was a great contributor and citizen of Armenia; he was the Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia. He used to share in all the troubles of Armenia: our people could witness his care during the devastating earthquake that hit the country thirty years ago; he was with us all the way through the hardships we faced after the reinstatement of independence.

Charles Aznavour was not indifferent to the non-violent velvet revolution in Armenia. In a recent letter to me, he wrote, in particular: “I look forward to traveling to the new Armenia and getting acquainted with those healthy forces that will shape our nation’s future, as soon as my health permits.”

The Great Master intended to visit Armenia next week on the occasion of the seventeenth summit of the International Organization of La Francophonie, and I promised to introduce him to the New Armenia and promised that he would immediately feel the optimism and spirit of the victorious citizens of New Armenia.

Unfortunately, I could not fulfill that promise. My only consolation is that Aznavour nevertheless managed to send his last message to the New Armenia in his letter: “I sincerely wish youth could develop their full potential and make their dreams come true in Armenia."

Dear Master, Honorable Charles Aznavour,
In your letter, you put on record what the Armenian people and the Armenian youth are striving for in fact. And here, right now, before the world, I want to pledge solemnly that we will make your message a reality.

You may rest assured of my commitment to transform Armenia into what you were dreaming of. The free and truly happy Armenia will be our appreciation of your undeniable merit before the Armenian people and Armenia.

I bow before you, the great Frenchman, the great Armenian, the great artist and the great humanist.

Eternal peace to you, dear Maestro!”

For his part, French President Emmanuel Macron said:
“Honorable President of the Republic of Armenia,
Honorable Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia,
Mr. Prime Minister,
Dear Charles Aznavour family members,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Charles Aznavour would have liked to live a century. He had promised himself. He had promised us, as an ultimate challenge to life. Age had never deprived him of this foolish appetite for living, creating, singing, loving, laughing – but not far from the threshold, death came to pick him noiselessly.

This sudden emptiness reveals hitherto obscure evidence: for nearly a century, it was he who made us live. To our secret fragilities, to our fleeting emotions, to our melancholy and to our hopes, he will have extended this consoling mirror which, for so many decades, has made our life smoother, our tears less bitter, and our joys - lighter.

His songs have never been one of those summer songs you forget, they were for millions of people a salve, a cure, a comfort. It is just that old companion who leaves us, that friendly storyteller who sang the truth of our lives to the height of man, taking his share of ordinary sorrows, the mourning of everyday life and the passage of time. This passing time, he spoke of it with a particular intensity of which we felt that it came from far away, not simply sadness but the experience of exile. The years in exile are counted twice, and the French audience noticed it very quickly.

Throughout the years, Charles Aznavour's voice has united us regardless of our age and social status. Aznavour united us and became one of the faces of France. The songs of Aznavour are, first of all, poems, the lyrics of which go to our heart, the titles of these poems, and the song's songs have become an inheritance for us. It is this way that the artist’s genius is established. The French language has become the source of Aznavour’s ties with France.

Born to Armenian and Greek immigrants, who never went to secondary school, knew instinctively that our most sacred sanctuary was the French language.

The actor’s son became a Parisian, at first he began to appear in movies, with difficulties, sometimes in short dialogues, but he never wanted to become an actor. Nevertheless, he was filmed in sixty films many of which became masterpieces. He used to be with young people, open to new music, voices and ideas.
He wrote for young artists, continued to assist them, thereby establishing bridges between generations. That is how he imagined France because he knew how much France was connected with the whole world. He sang in eight languages, but rendered his songs everywhere in French.

Of all virtues, he preferred loyalty. He was faithful to Armenia, his wife, his family, friends, acquaintances, and even to strangers.

Aznavour was the son of Armenia, his friend, ambassador, as well as the generous child who reached out a helping hand in the aftermath of the 1988 earthquake. His commitment continues today with the activities of Aznavour Foundation for the benefit of Armenia, Armenians and the French-Armenian friendship. Despite the pain that left the Genocide, Aznavour continued his actions and formulated his struggle.

Aznavour used to sing about Armenia, the Armenian people, wishing to protect the dignity of the people they tried to silence. By holding fast to his ethnic roots, he showed us a small piece of a foreigner in his French soul. Armenia has given much to France owing to him, and this is the right moment to remember that we, as a nation, owe much to those the Armenians who had to leave their country and come to find shelter in us. This is a common fate. Armenians of all countries, today I think of you.

Aznavour should have been with us in Yerevan next week to attend the Francophonie summit. His absence will make an immense void. May the friendship between Armenia and France be worthy of what he taught us!

I am convinced that for many years ahead - in times of trouble, hopefulness or joy - millions of people will keep in mind the music or the words of those songs that this exceptional poet has left us.

In the heart of each of us, he will continue to walk straight across this century, with his hand in his pocket and a smile on his face. He will no longer leave us because poets never die in France.”

Charles Aznavour’s funeral is due on October 6. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has declared October 6, 2018 a day of national mourning in the Republic of Armenia. 

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