681) Panic in the Armenian diaspora over Turkish pressure on France

Sources are reporting that the Armenian diaspora in France is reacting negatively to the general reaction from both business and civilian organizations in Turkey in the run-up to the debates tomorrow in the French Parliament on a bill which, if approved, would mandate prison sentences for those denying Armenian claims against Turkey of a genocide. Fearful that the law may not pass tomorrow, organized members of the Armenian diaspora in France put a full page ad in yesterday's French newspaper "Liberation" in support of passage of the bill. The ad noted that "denial is a crime" and that "a law is necessary" to deal with the denial.

One web site run by Armenians in France, "Nouvelle d'Armenie," reflected the general feeling in the community yesterday, with an article entitled "Turkey's unacceptable blackmail." Portions of the article read "For days, Turkey has been putting pressure on France to prevent the passage of the denial bill. Prime Minister Erdogan is himself threatening French firms with boycotts. There is an aggressive e-mail campaign aimed at the French Parliament members. Despite this propoganda, the French Armenian Organization Coordination Council believes that the interference by a third country in France's business will not be accepted, as French laws concern only French citizens."

Meanwhile, Turks living in Paris have organized a group in connection with the controversial "genocide denial" bill, and have sent more than 12 thousand e-mails and letters to French MPs and top level authorities over the past weeks. Tomorrow, during the talks in the French Parliament on whether or not to pass the bill, the Turkish group, calling themselves "Soz Hurriyeti Kolektifi," will protest in Paris' La Place d'Invalides." Armenians have also reportedly received permission from the police to protest at a different spot.



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