Former French-Armenian Minister Patrick Devedjian Dies of COVID-19

PARIS — Patrick Devedjian, a former cabinet minister and former president of the Parisian Haut-de-Seine administrative district has become one of the first high-profile politicians to die of COVID-19. He was 75 (born August 26, 1944).

He had announced on Twitter on Thursday morning that he had been diagnosed positive with Covid-19. He had been hospitalized.

“I am affected by the epidemic, therefore I am able to bear witness directly to the exceptional work of doctors and nurses,” he wrote on Twitter earlier in the week. “I’m sending them a big thank you for their constant help to all their patients.”

Devedjian had been placed for observation on Wednesday in a hospital in the south of the department but his condition did not need incubation.

A lawyer by profession, Patrick Devedjian was a deputy for the 13th district of Hauts-de-Seine from 1986 to 2017, mayor of Antony from 1983 to 2002 and elected departmental councilor in 2004. He has chaired the department since 2007.

A close adviser of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy since the 1990s, he was Minister under the Prime Minister in charge of the Implementation of the Recovery Plan, a special ministerial post created for two years after the global financial crisis of 2008, since December 2008.

Armenia’s leaders immediately paid tribute to the late French-Armenian politician.

“It is with great sorrow that I learned of the demise of Patrick Devedjian. He was an exceptional personality, a politician of convictions and principles, faithful fighter for the Armenian cause, an essential figure in French-Armenian friendship,” Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said in a Twitter post.

“This is a severe blow to the French Armenians, the Armenian people and France,” Pashinyan added.

He offered condolences to Patrick Devedjian wife, his sons and his friends.

“Armenia and all Armenians share the pain of this great loss with France and the French people,” the Prime Minister said.

France and Armenia lost one of their best sons, Armenia’s President Armen Sarkissian said in a message.

“I am shocked at the death of Patrick Devedjian, a prominent French-Armenian politician, chairman of the Council of the Hauts-de-Seine department,” the President said.

“Patrick Devedjian was a bright politician and individual, upright, educated, responsible in his words and deeds. At the same time, he was a tireless advocate of the Armenian Cause, whose voice was heard nationally and internationally,” the President added.

He noted that after Armenia gained independence, Patrick Devedjian became one of the architects of the privileged Armenian-French relationship.

“The development of Armenia was a priority for him, and he was contributing to it with specific programs and actions,” Armen Sarkissian said.

He offered deepest condolences to Patrick Devedjian’s wife, children and grandchildren, relatives, as well as the French-Armenians and the entire Armenian nation.

Very attached to his origins and double culture, Patrick Devedjian had been one of the lawyers of the four members of Armenian Secret Army for Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) who had captured the Turkish consulate in 1981, taking 60 hostages.

The operation codenamed “Van” was a new phenomenon in the activities of ASALA and in general in the history of the Armenian national liberation movement. The trial of the young men -Vasken Sislian, Aram Basmajian, Hagob Dzhulfayan, and Kevork Guzelian –would also become a historical event.

The trial took place from January 24 to January 31, 1984, was the first political process after the trial of Soghomon Tehlirian in 1921. The trial turned into a tribune for the accusation of Turkey. The interests of the Armenian people were brilliantly defended by lawyers Leclerc, Teijan, Signar, Patrick Devedjian, Aslanyan, and Pestimaljyan.