Aliyev to visit France as tension continues

Aliyev to visit France as tension continues

Azerbaijan’s President İlham Aliyev will travel to France today, as a group mostly consisting of members of the French-Armenian diaspora prepares to protest his visit.

Aliyev will attend the opening ceremony of the Islamic Arts Hall at the Louvre Museum, and then meet France’s President François Hollande at the Elysee Presidential Palace. His visit comes at a time of high tension between Yerevan and Baku, due to the latter’s pardoning and promotion of Ramil Safarov, an Azeri officer who murdered an Armenian counterpart at a NATO event in 2004.

‘Safarov case’ on the agenda

Hollande will bring the issue of Safarov’s release to the agenda during his meeting with Aliyev, said Franck Mourad Papazian, a prominent figure in the French-Armenian diaspora and a member of the Dashnaksutyun Party, in a telephone interview with Hürriyet Daily News.

The protest of Aliyev’s visit is intended as call for a justice addressed to the entire world, Papzian said. “Aliyev’s government pardoned and promoted Safarov, who killed Gurgen Margaryan just because he was an Armenian. Forgiving a murderer means ignoring and violating international law,” Papazian said. More than 6,000 people all over France are expected to attend the protests.

With regard to the French draft law concerning denial of the alleged Armenian genocide, which had caused tension between Turkey and France, Papazian said the Hollande government will revive the law, and that negotiations to schedule this were ongoing.

Vercihan Ziflioğlu contributed to this report from the Istanbul bureau.