Cross-stone consecrated in Lusignan, France

On December 13, RA Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan and RA Ambassador to France Vigen Chitechyan attended the solemn opening and consecration ceremony of a cross-stone dedicated to the memory of the last Armenian King Levon V (also recalled as Levon VI in Armenian historiography), the fighters who fought for France’s liberty and the victims of the Armenian Genocide in the Lusignan commune in the Poitou region. Among other participants of the ceremony were Deputy of the French National Assembly Jean-Michel Cleman, President of the State Council of Poitou Claude Berto, Mayor of Luisgnan Rene Gibo, as well as hundreds of Armenians from France and nearby countries and other guests.

The cross-stone made from Armenian tuff was placed through the combined efforts of Lusignan Municipality, Ararat Association, the Association of Former French-Armenian Fighters and French Resistance Movement Fighters and the Coordinating Commission for the Events Dedicated to the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in France, and the consecration ceremony was conducted by Archbishop Norvan Zakarian. President of the Union of Armenian Evangelical Churches of Eurasia, the Very Reverend, Rene Levonyan said a prayer, after which a wreath was laid near the cross-stone.

In their welcoming remarks, Jean-Michel Cleman and Claude Berto praised the role of the French-Armenian community in the life in France and in the strengthening of friendly ties between France and Armenia. Mayor Rene Gibo mentioned that Lusignan is a French city with Armenian roots and that the Armenians should feel at home when they visit the city.

Minister Hranush Hakobyan praised the placement of the cross-stone and considered it symbolic as we approach the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide and mentioned: “This is a moral, national and historic moment. It is also a moment in politics. The cross-stone will remind visitors of five important facts. First, it will remind them that the Armenians have a history spanning millennia and had a Kingdom of Cilicia, that the last king of Cilicia was Levon V, who finally settled in France, that the cross-stone is also dedicated to the Armenian fighters who died for the liberation of France and who brought peace and liberty to this wonderful country, that it embodies the centuries-old friendship between the Armenians and the French and that it is dedicated to the memory of the innocent victims of the Armenian Genocide. In just a couple of months, progressive mankind will be commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, and we will declare “I Remember and Demand”. The Turks must know that we won’t keep silent, that we’ll demand that they recognize the unprecedented crime committed against the Armenian people and mankind and that they make reparations and eliminate the consequences.”

Andre Valota, Antoin Baghdigian, Lidia Gaimagian, Daniel Artinian, Yervand Berberian and Frederic Fringian were granted certificates and letters of gratitude of the RA Ministry of Diaspora for assisting in the placement of the cross-stone and for their contributions to the preservation of the Armenian identity.

The minister attended the “Lusignans and Armenia” exhibition at the local museum where visitors could see the entire history of the Lusignan dynasty. The minister also attended the exhibition dedicated to the Armenian fighters who fought for France’s liberation.

The exhibitions were followed by a conference devoted to Levon V during which Claude Mutafian gave a speech on “The Lusignans and Armenia in the 13th-14th Centuries” and presented the history of Cilician Armenia in detail. Hranush Hakobyan also gave a speech at the conference and presented the “Ambassador of the Native Language” Medal of the RA Ministry of Diaspora to Mutafian for his great contributions to Armenology, as well as to the popularization of Armenian language and history and to the preservation of the Armenian identity.

In the evening, nearly 250 Armenians attended a solemn reception hosted on behalf of Mayor of Lusignan Rene Gibo. The event included performances of folk and national dances by the Armenian dance group of Poitou. The minister expressed gratitude to the mayor of Lusignan for his support and for providing a wonderful space in central Lusignan and granted the Gold Medal of the RA Ministry of Diaspora for his pro-Armenian activities. Hranush Hakobyan also suggested making Lusignan a sister city with any city in Armenia, and the mayor accepted the suggestion with great excitement.

On Sunday morning, Minister Hakobyan and Ambassador Chitechyan visited the local Mother Temple, which was built in 1024 by the Lusignan dynasty and where a Divine Liturgy was served and a Requiem Mass was performed in Armenian and French in memory of the victims of the Armenian Genocide, the fighters who fought for France’s liberation and those who died during the heroic battle of Artsakh.

The minister also had meetings with representatives of the Armenian communities of Toulouse, Bordo, Paris and Poitou, as well as Armenians from the Netherlands. The minister and the representatives discussed the activities carried out in the communities, the achievements and future actions and raised several issues that require solutions for which the minister expressed willingness to support.

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