A delegation consisting of businesspeople, led by Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB) President Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu and Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen's Association (TUSİAD) Chairwoman Ümit Boyner is also scheduled to engage in contacts with French business people with the aim of convincing them to increase pressure on French officials regarding the bill. They were planning to stay in the Intercontinental Paris Le Grande Hotel and they also made a reservation for a conference hall in the hotel for Monday evening last week in addition to room bookings. The delegation was planning to have a meeting with nearly 200 people and voice their opposition to the bill. However, the hotel cancelled the reservation for the conference hall at the very last minute and told the delegation that the hall was not available although they had earlier reserved it for the Turkish group, TOBB Chairman Hisarcıkoğlu said.
He said upon the hotel's move, they also cancelled their room reservations and booked rooms at the Paris Hilton Hotel. The venue of the meeting was also changed to the Turkish Consulate.
According to Turkish media, the hotel did not want to host the Turkish delegation's meeting under pressure from the Armenian diaspora in France. Hisarcıklıoğlu also said the hotel administration most likely changed its mind fearing pressure over hosting the meeting.
The French parliament is set to vote on Thursday on a piece of legislation that could make denying the 1915 events that took place in Turkey as genocide punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros. The Turkish reaction escalated over the week from mild suggestion to the French to reconsider the voting, to outright warnings that France will be facing severe consequences, including the withdrawal of the Turkish ambassador from Paris. Turkey has been lobbying with full force to counter the bill, as multiple delegations from the ruling party, opposition lawmakers, Turkish business people and civil society organizations embark on a Paris trip to warn French officials of the possible damage the denial bill could cause.
Armenian groups say up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed during World War I in a systematic genocide campaign perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire. Turkey categorically rejects the charges, saying the death toll is inflated and that Turks were also killed as Armenians revolted against the Ottoman Empire in collaboration with Russian forces for an independent state in eastern Anatolia.
Ankara believes the new French drive to placate the Armenian lobby in France by passing the controversial bill is closely linked with the upcoming presidential elections.