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Armenian Nationalist Party To Snub Visiting Turkish Politician

Mevlut Cavusoglu
Mevlut Cavusoglu
YEREVAN -- The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) said today it will refuse to meet with Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) President Mevlut Cavusoglu, a Turkish citizen, during his upcoming visit to Yerevan, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

The nationalist Dashnaktsutyun party made the decision not to meet him after Cavusoglu's apparent refusal to visit a Yerevan memorial to Armenians massacred by Ottoman Turks in 1915-1918 in what Armenians consider to be genocide.

Cavusoglu will arrive in Yerevan today for a two-day visit focusing on Armenia's compliance with Council of Europe membership commitments.
He is scheduled to meet with Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian, parliament speaker Hovik Abrahamian, leaders of political parties represented in parliament, and members of extraparliamentary opposition parties.

According to Dashnaktsutyun, the PACE chief has informed Armenian authorities that he will not visit the Armenian genocide memorial. Government sources confirmed the information.

A wreathe-laying ceremony at the Tsitsernakabert memorial is normally a part of the itinerary for foreign dignitaries visiting the country.

In a letter to Abrahamian, Dashnaktsutyun parliamentary leader Vahan Hovannisian condemned Cavusoglu's decision, saying it is "inappropriate for the head of an authoritative international organization."

"Representatives of the PACE leadership have never shown such a disrespectful attitude before, regardless of whether or not their countries recognize the Armenian genocide," Hovannisian wrote. "In effect, Mr. Cavusoglu is making no secret of the fact that he is visiting Armenia not so much as head of PACE [but] as a Turkish politician."

In a separate interview with RFE/RL, Hovannisian urged other parliamentary factions to refust to meet Cavusoglu.

"Naturally, Cavusoglu was always going to be a Turkish president [of PACE] and place Turkish interests above everything else," he said.

Parliamentary representatives of the governing Republican, Prosperous Armenia, and Orinats Yerkir parties made clear, however, that they will not snub the Turkish parliamentarian.

Aram Safarian, a senior BHK lawmaker, told RFE/RL that members of his faction will tell Cavusoglu that they are deeply suspicious of his efforts to have the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict discussed at the Strasbourg-based assembly.

"We see this as being part of Turkey's continuing efforts to mediate in a conflict where its positions toward our country are not balanced and
impartial," Safarian said, referring to Ankara's support for Azerbaijan in the dispute.

An influential opposition group, the Armenian National Congress, agreed to hold talks with the visiting PACE head. But it was not clear whether the bloc's top leader, former President Levon Ter-Petrossian, will be in attendance.