On September 20, the Declaration of Friendship was signed between the Izer State of France and the Hadrout region of the Artsakh Republic. The solemn ceremony took place in the town hall of Izer County in Grenoble. The Declaration was signed by Izer County Council President Jean-Pierre Barbier and Head of Hadrut District Administration Kamo Petrosyan. The event was attended by Hovhannes Gevorgyan, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Azerbaijan to France, Gayane Manukyan, RA Deputy Consul in the region, state administration staff, representatives of the Armenian community and journalists.
Details of the visit to France in an interview with KAMO PETROSYAN.
- Mr. Petrosyan, this is the fourteenth among the Declarations of Friendship signed between the administrative districts of France and Artsakh. How did the idea come to life?
- My working visit to France was organized with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Artsakh Republic. I received the invitation by Armenian veterans of the French Army. I was in Izer on September 18-25, and my first meeting was at the Grenoble Armenian Community Culture House. I must say that this center of culture has its unique role in preserving the Armenian identity and preserving our national and cultural values. The meeting, which was attended by representatives of several Armenian parties, was held in a warm atmosphere, during which our compatriots in France became interested in the life of Artsakh. particularly the situation on the contact line between the armed forces of Artsakh and Azerbaijan. Those in attendance also wanted to know the details of the military aggression carried out by Azerbaijan in April 2016 and the Artsakh Defense Army's counterattacks.
- They probably knew in Izer, that You served in the Army of Defense and had the rank of colonel. The talk with the veterans of the French army logically should have been about the issues of war and the protection of the people.
- The Armenian veterans of the French army were first and foremost interested in military operations. I noticed that talking to a senior officer of the Artsakh Defense Army was very enjoyable for them. They have accomplished their tasks at different times in different countries and have been highly respected in France. During the talk I presented the situation in the soviet autonomous region of Nagorno-Karabakh during the Soviet times, talked about the struggle of our people and the war that was wrapped around our neck.
Veterans were concerned about Azerbaijani provocations at the line of contact and frequent ceasefire violations, the accumulation of weapons in the adversary state and the acquisition of large-scale offensive weapons. I informed them that our army had such weapons and ammunition that it could strike the enemy at any moment. Questions have also been raised about the technical equipment of the front line, the food of the soldiers, in short, all the things that may be of interest to a war veteran. When I presented the capabilities of our army, they were thrilled. Everyone had the same desire to visit our republic, first of all Hadrut and see everything with their own eyes. I invited everyone. In my opinion, there will be visits of politicians in the near future, with whom the discussion of issues of mutual interest would only promote the development of cooperation and strengthening of relationships.
- How do You feel about the signing ceremony of the Declaration of Friendship? We would ask you to publicize the document.
- The solemn ceremony of signing the Declaration took place on September 20, at the Izer County Council Hall in Grenoble. The ceremony was preceded by a meeting with provincial council chairman Jean-Pierre Barbiye and his deputy Patrick Curoy. I gave them the flag of our Republic, as well as souvenirs and stamps from Artsakh. Mr Barbiye told in his office how the Azerbaijanis had threatened to sue that he had no right to sign such a document with an unrecognized country. He responded with irony: You will sue, and we will answer you in court.
The hall was crowded at the time of the signing of the Declaration, members of the provincial council were also present. The State Council President's speech followed my speech. The ceremony was really solemn, the atmosphere was warm and friendly. The contents of the declaration are as follows: “We declare our will to establish friendly relations based on mutual respect, sharing universal values, including peace, freedom, human rights, democracy and religious freedom. This Declaration is intended to promote the strengthening of friendship and solidarity between peoples. "
- What were the accents in the speeches of the French side, what was more important?
- Jean-Pierre Barbiye emphasized the work of the Armenian parties and their great contribution to the development of the state. He said that some Armenian politicians hold senior positions in the province. After the signing of the Declaration of Friendship, he congratulated all Armenians, expressing confidence that by their daily work they would bring the Armenian-French relations to a higher level. His wish was for Artsakh to establish close relations with all the French territorial units, to become more recognizable in Europe and throughout the world.
- As a rule, practical steps are followed by signing the document. France is one of the European countries with its developed agriculture, Izer with a population of 1 million 200 thousand and corresponding economic opportunities. Have you, as a district leader, outlined the fields and directions in the cooperation?
- There was a preliminary talk about it. Mr. Barbiye and his deputy gladly accepted our invitation to visit Hadrut. We exchanged views on further cooperation, and decided to get acquainted with our agricultural activities during the planned visit next year. There will be suggestions from them, and here we will agree on our future plans. I personally believe that strengthening relations with the French side will promote the development of separate branches of agriculture in Artsakh. We can train specialists there, use their experience in our agriculture. I would first mention viticulture and winemaking, why not, we also need to exchange experience in the field of animal husbandry. In general, we can take an example from our friends in all areas.
- It is obvious that our neighboring state has declared war on the Artsakh-France friendship, and by putting its oil dollars into action, it is doing its best to cancel the friendship declarations. In your speech you also mentioned the threats addressed to the Chairman of the State Council.
- The French side treats the Azerbaijani hysteria with contempt. They believe that the establishment of friendly relations with Artsakh and their further expansion in the future is a process that Azerbaijan cannot impede. Together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Artsakh, we will take all necessary steps to consistently strengthen the friendly relations between our two countries and peoples.
We can definitely say that Azerbaijan's attempts to politically isolate Artsakh have failed. Whatever they do, they will not get what they want. I was convinced of that in Izer.
As a party to the Declaration of Friendship, I am simply declaring from here that no matter how much Azerbaijan tries to impede Artsakh's relations with the outside world, the opposite will be the result. The Artsakh-France friendship will only deepen. I am convinced that our friendly France and other states of the world will recognize the Republic of Artsakh as an independent and sovereign state.