French Armenians Stage Protests as Aliyev Visits Paris

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PARIS (ArmeniaNow) — The Armenian community of France is organizing large- scale protest against the visit of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to Paris, accusing him of carrying out a genocidal policy manifested in the latest act of pardoning a confessed killer of an Armenian.

Aliyev arrived in the French capital on Monday to attend the opening of an Islamic art exhibition at the Louvre Museum. He was also scheduled to meet with French

officials, including President Francois Hollande.

Meanwhile, the country’s sizable Armenian community held a rally Tuesday in front of the Azerbaijani Embassy in Paris to express their indignation at both Azerbaijan’s “genocidal policies” and the decision of France to host Aliyev.

Spokespersons for Armenian organizations in France said they believe that France should not encourage the anti- Armenian regime of Azerbaijan. They point at Aliyev’s decision to pardon Ramil Safarov, a man who hacked to death an Armenian student at NATO-sponsored lan- guage courses in Budapest, upon his extra- dition from Hungary last month, as more proof that Nagorno-Karabagh cannot be part of Azerbaijan. That decision led to offi- cial Yerevan’s severing ties with Budapest and demanding a clear stance of the inter- national community to condemn the “Azerbaijani-Hungarian deal.” France, too,

voiced concerns over the possibility of the Safarov affair “seriously undermining the negotiating efforts” in the Karabagh settlement that it spearheads along with the United States and Russia.

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“Granting pardon to the murderer by the Azerbaijani president is clear encouragement of barbarism and anti-Armenianism. These events are the continuation of the genocidal logic of the Azerbaijani regime,

which is getting armed more and more for the full destruction of the Armenians of Nagorno- Karabagh,” the Coordination Council of Armenian Organizations of France (CCAF) said in a special press release on the occasion. “To receive Aliyev in these conditions means to support his anti-Armenian policy. Ilham Aliyev, who disregards international rights, should not be received in the Elysee Palace. Aliyev, whose regime demolished the Armenian cultural heritage, in particular 4,000 Armenian stone crosses in Old Jugha, [Nakhijevan, which is an exclave ruled by Azerbaijan] should not be received in the Louvre.”

A protest against the Azeri president’s visit was also held on Monday in Marseilles by representatives of the local Armenian community.

Demonstrations were also staged in Marseille and Provence, in connection with Aliyev’s visit to France, Nouvelles d’Arménie monthly of France reports.

The protesters stated that French President François Hollande on Tuesday would receive that person who released Ramil Safarov and declared him a hero, once Safarov was extradited by Hungary.

Close to 200 Marseille residents joined numerous political and religious figures. In their speeches, the local government representatives expressed their resentment over the current situation and called upon the French President to do everything possible to restore justice.

Safarov, a lieutenant in the Azerbaijani military, was extradited on August 31 from Hungary, where he was serving a life sentence — and with no expression of either regret or remorse — for the premeditated axe murder of Armenian Lt. Gurgen Margaryan, in his sleep, during a NATO Partnership for Peace program in Budapest back in 2004.

As expected, Safarov’s return to Baku was welcomed, as was his act of murder, by the officials of president Ilham Aliyev’s government and much of Azerbaijani society, and the Azerbaijani president immediately granted him a pardon.

And Armenia’s President Serge Sargisian announced on August 31 that Armenia is suspending its diplomatic ties with Hungary.

Safarov’s pardoning has been condemned by virtually all international organizations. (News.am contributed to this report.)

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