PARIS (RFE/RL’s Armenian Service)—French President Emmanuel Macron has declared April 24 as a day for the commemoration in France of the 1915 genocide of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey.
Macron announced the move late on Tuesday at an annual dinner of the Coordination Council of Armenian Organizations in France (CCAF). The Reuters news agency quoted him as saying that France was among the first nations to denounce “the murderous hunt of the Armenian people in the Ottoman Empire.”
“France is, first and foremost, a country that knows how to look history in the face,” he said, according to the France24 TV channel.
France officially recognized the World War I-era slaughter of some 1.5 million Armenians as genocide with a law passed by its parliament 2001. It is home to an estimated 500,000 ethnic Armenians, most of them descendants of survivors of the genocide.
Macron spoke of his “admiration” for the French-Armenian community and visited the Armenian genocide memorial in Paris when he ran for president in 2017. The CCAF, which is an umbrella structure uniting the leading French-Armenian organizations, endorsed his presidential candidacy.
Turkey strongly condemned Macron’s decision on Wednesday. According to the Associated Press, a spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Macron tried to “save the day” and make political gains in the face of “political problems in his own country.”
Editor’s Note: The title of the first version of this article suggested France was the first country to declare April 24 a day commemorating the Armenian Genocide. This was factually incorrect, and we apologize for any confusion.