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Armenian President Takes Turkey Deal To Diaspora

Serzh Sarkisian meets with members of the Armenian diaspora in Los Angeles.
YEREVAN -- Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian was greeted with protests from members of the diaspora over his proposed rapprochement with Turkey when he arrived in Paris and in Los Angeles, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Sarkisian spoke to groups in Paris on October 2, and then flew to New York and Los Angeles on October 3-4 as part of a tour to address the concerns of the Armenian diaspora, which by and large has not welcomed the proposed agreement.

He will also visit Beirut and Rostov-na-Donu in southern Russia. In Paris, Sarkisian told ethnic Armenians that Yerevan is pursuing an unconditional normalization with Turkey, and in Los Angeles he told the diaspora that "it is possible" to have "normal relations with Turkey and benefit" from them.

Armenian and Turkish officials are expected to sign the agreement on October 10 in Switzerland, and it will then go to the respective parliaments for ratification.

Aram Hamparian, the executive director the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), told RFE/RL on October 4 that two leading Armenian publications in the United States polled 2,400 ethnic Armenians and found that 90 percent are against the agreement, with about 95 percent believing the provisions favor Turkey.

Hamparian added that he thinks the deal was reached in a "secret atmosphere."

But Haig Deranian, director of the Armenian-American organization Knights of Vartan, disagreed with the poll and said that "Armenian organizations with a more moderate position are very angered at the circumstance that the ANCA speaks on behalf of the entire diaspora" in the United States, and their "emotions notwithstanding, we should also be objective and try to support the Armenian nation."