French President Emmanuel Macron publicly recognized France’s “overwhelming responsibility” in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and said only the survivors could give “the gift of forgiveness.”
“France did not understand that, while trying to prevent a regional conflict, or a civil war, it was in fact standing by the side of a genocidal regime,” Macron said Thursday following a visit to the Gisozi memorial in the Rwandan capital Kigali.
“By doing so, it endorsed an overwhelming responsibility,” Macron added, in the strongest public admission of responsibility from a French leader to date. “On this path, only those who went through the night can, maybe, forgive us, give us the gift of forgiveness,” Macron concluded.
Rwandan President Kagame hailed French President Macron’s speech, declaring it was a “major step” in the relationship between the two countries. “France and Rwanda are going to relate much better, to the benefit of both our people,” Kagame said, even if “the relationship between the two countries will never be entirely conventional.” Macron’s words “were something more valuable than an apology: they were the truth,” Kagame added.