Sarkozy holds meeting to secure Armenian votes

Sarkozy holds meeting to secure Armenian votes

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Sarkozy holds meeting to secure Armenian votes

An Armenian demonstrator holds banners in support of a French bill penalizing the denial of genocide claims in Paris in this file photo. The bill was annuled by a high court. ABACAPRESS photo

French President Nicolas Sarkozy was scheduled to meet Armenian community leaders and politicians in the Elysee palace yesterday, as one of them said the community did not blame Sarkozy for the annulment of the “genocide” bill but vowed to continue its efforts to pass a new law.

“Mr. Sarkozy is aware of the sensitivities we have as French-Armenians over this matter,” Armenian Dashnak Party leader Franck Mourad Papazian told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday, before attending the meeting.

“Both Sarkozy and his frontrunner rival Francois Hollande are in agreement over the draft proposal [to criminalize] denial of the genocide,” said Papazian. “Moreover, as Armenians we are going to continue waging our righteous struggle and pick it up where it was left once again,” Papazian said. The French Constitutional Council recently annulled a bill penalizing denial of the Armenian genocide allegations. After the annulment, Sarkozy said he would reintroduce another law, in a move widely seen as attempting to secure Armenian votes in the upcoming presidential elections.

Armenian politician and advisor of Sarkozy, Patrick Devejian was also scheduled to attend the meeting, as well as prominent members of the Armenian community living in France including Alexis Govciyan, Ara Toranyan, Michael Cazaryan and Alain Terzyan.

“[Sarkozy] maintained his stance regarding the Armenian genocide till the end. He called on Turkey to recognize the genocide and paved the way for Parliament to vote on the law,” said Papazian. “We do not possess Turkey’s material capabilities. All we have is our just cause and our struggle in that vein. We are going to continue waging our struggle until Turkey recognizes the genocide. Both Mr. Sarkozy and Mr. Hollande will continue lending their support to our righteous struggle.”

“Of course, a new draft proposal will come about, but we are now entering the process of elections. We are going to pick up our righteous struggle where we left off [after the elections],” Armenian politician Garo Yalick, adviser to Valeri Boyer, deputy of Sarkozy’s UMP party, said.

Meanwhile, Sarkozy yesterday attempted to attract the votes of the far-right by voicing the “immigrant” issue. “Our system of integration is working worse and worse, because we have too many foreigners on our territory,” Sarkozy said on March 6. He promised to decrease this number.