Violent protests in Paris greet Armenian president
Violent protests broke out Friday at the start of Armenian President Serge Sarkisian's tour of Armenian communities worldwide, with demonstrators in Paris shouting "traitor!" at him and decrying his plans to establish ties with Turkey, AP reported.
Sarkisian embarked on the tour - which will also take him to the United States, Russia and Lebanon - to seek support for his landmark bid for diplomatic ties with Turkey after a century of enmity. But at least 200 protesters from the Armenian diaspora in France showed up at a public appearance in Paris.
Riot police fought back belligerent demonstrators, a few dozen of whom shouted "No!" and punched riot shields. Police dragged several protesters away kicking and screaming.
Sarkisian later put in a brief appearance, walking past protesters shouting through bullhorns.
The scuffles Friday erupted at a memorial event at a monument to an Armenian priest and composer targeted in the massacres.
Earlier in the day, Sarkisian had lunch in Paris with crooner Charles Aznavour, one of France's most famous Armenians, before meeting with members of the vocal Armenian community here, Sarkisian's spokesman Samvel Farmanian said.
After Paris, Sarkisian is set to continue what is dubbed a "pan-Armenian tour" with visits to New York, Los Angeles, Beirut and Rostov-on-Don in Russia to discuss a planned meeting Oct. 10 when the Turkish and Armenian foreign ministers are expected to sign the deal to establish ties.