On Sunday, March 29, French Armenian politician Patrick Devedjian died in a Parisian hospital from the coronavirus after previously revealing his diagnosis on Twitter. In that message, Devedjian took the opportunity to praise the exceptional work of the medical staff at the hospital where he was being treated.
Born on August 26, 1944 in Fontainebleau (Seine-et-Marne), Devedjian was 75 years old. Devedjian’s father arrived in France in 1919 from Sivas after fleeing the Armenian Genocide. His mother was from Boulogne-sur-mer and died when he was just six years old. In 1969, Devedjian married Sophie Vanbremeersch; they had four sons, Thomas, François, Arthur and Basil, as well as 10 grandchildren.
Devoted to both his Armenian and French backgrounds, Devedjian served on the legal team for Armenian activist Max Hraïr Kilndjian in 1982; he was elected mayor of Antony from 1983 until 2002. A close adviser to the French President Nicolas Sarkozy in the 1990s, Devedjian also served as the minister in charge of the implementation of the recovery plan, a special post created for two years after the global financial crisis of 2008. Previously, he was Minister of Industry between 2004 to 2005 and Minister of Local Liberties from 2002 to 2004. From 2007 until his passing, Devedjian was President of the General Council of the Hauts-de-Seine.
French President Emmanuel Macron expressed his condolences on Devedjian’s passing stating, “France loses a committed politician who put his great culture, his immense knowledge of the law and his passion for freedom at the service of his country and nation…He who, never forgetting his origins, had Armenia in his heart, deeply loved France, its culture, its imagination, its public services: his last public words were for the nursing staff who, until the end, helped him to fight against the virus and for the members of the Hauts-de-Seine department Council mobilized in the service of its citizens.”
Former French president Francois Hollande referred to Devedjian as a fighter in his tweet. “He had courageously overcome many trials. The one who won him was the most devious because it was the most invisible. I salute his memory and that of all the victims of this scourge. The struggle requires the greatest national unity.”
Sarkozy also hailed the late politician as “a passionate, sincere, committed man.” “I am proud to have had him by my side,” he tweeted.
“Patrick Devedjian’s passing has caused immense sorrow,” said Mourad Papazian, co-chairman of the Coordinating Committee of Armenian Organizations of France (CCAF) and a member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Bureau.
On Facebook, European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy (EAFJD) president Kaspar Karampetian wrote, “It is a great loss for the Armenians in France and in Europe. Patrick Devedjian was one of the rare Armenians in any European country to hold prominent ministerial portfolios. But at the same time, he never stopped being Armenian and fighting for the Armenian Cause, as a lawyer during his young age and later as a successful politician. He is an example that many young European Armenians can follow.”
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan also expressed his condolences writing, “It is safe to say that, after the death of the great Charles Aznavour, the death of Patrick Devedjian is an inconsolable sorrow for the Armenian-French friendship; Devedjian was a brilliant symbol of the fraternal ties. Devedjian embodied unconditional dedication to the 50-year struggle for recognition of the Armenian Genocide and advancement of the issues concerning French-Armenians.”
Armenian President Armen Sarkissian was also shocked by the news. “France and Armenia lost one of their best sons,” he wrote in a telegram. “Patrick Devedjian was a brilliant politician and individual who was correct, educated and responsible with his words and actions. He was also one of the tribunes of the French-Armenians, an unwavering defender of the Armenian Cause, and his voice was heard at the national and international levels. After Armenia declared its independence, Patrick Devedjian became one of the architects of the special relations between France and Armenia. Armenia’s development was a primary objective for him, and he contributed to this with his specific actions and projects.”
In a letter, Republic of Artsakh President Bako Sahakyan wrote that Devedjian “made an invaluable contribution to the recognition of the Armenian Genocide and the defense of the Armenian Cause, contributing in every possible way to the preservation of the Armenian national identity in the Diaspora, the development of ties with Artsakh and the resolution of national issues.”
Armenian Ambassador to France Hasmik Tolmajyan expressed her sorrows on Facebook writing, “Patrick Devedjian, who was a Frenchman and was always loyal to his roots, deeply played a major role in and was a major symbol of the friendship between France and Armenia. He dedicated his entire life to the defense of the Armenian Cause and made a tremendous contribution to France’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide. His passing is a great loss for us all.”
Also on Facebook, French Ambassador to Armenia Jonathan Lacote wrote, “Patrick Devedjian was a tireless defender of the Armenian cause and played a constant role in the relationship between our two countries.” Lacote underscored his role in the development of projects for Armenia’s Tavush province.
Third President of Armenia Serge Sarkisian was pained by the news. He commented on Devedjian’s contributions to public and political life in France and how he strengthened ties between France and Armenia. “This is a great loss for the two friendly countries and nations,” wrote Sarkisian. “Patrick was unconditionally dedicated to his work, sincerely believed that he would succeed and wouldn’t spare efforts, including for recognition of the Armenian Genocide in France and defense of the Armenian Cause. He would be glad to see his work completed successfully by his supporters and his ideas implemented which will, unquestionably, be the best respect towards the memory of the renowned figure.”