Members of the Los Angeles Armenian community were planning a rally in Beverly Hills on Sunday to give a bitter welcome to Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan and to show their disappointment over an agreement between Ankara and Yerevan for establishing diplomatic ties and reopening their common border.
Los Angeles will be the third leg of a tour of influential Armenian communities worldwide by Sarksyan as he seeks support for his landmark bid to establish ties with Turkey. Organizers of the demonstration told the Los Angeles Times that they would call on Sarksyan to refrain from signing protocols with Turkey that they believe would threaten Armenia's interests and security.

{jumi [google/code.html]}

Paris was the first stop of the tour, with Sarksyan arriving in the city on Friday when violent protests broke out and demonstrators shouted “Traitor!” at him and criticized his plans to establish ties with Turkey. 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.

Sarksyan later put in a brief appearance, walking past protesters shouting through bullhorns.

Last month, Turkey and Armenia said they would set aside hostilities and establish diplomatic ties in favor of practical concerns such as oil interests, Turkey's EU membership bid and relations with Russia and the United States. Armenians in their poor, isolated homeland are eager to open up trade and other ties with Turkey, more so than many in the vast Armenian diaspora, most of whom are descendants of those who escaped the killings.

Sarksyan's Turkish counterpart, Abdullah Gül, speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a summit of Turkic-speaking countries held in the autonomous Azerbaijani republic of Nakhchivan on Saturday, criticized the Armenian diaspora for standing as a barrier to a resolution of regional problems.

“What I will particularly tell the Armenian diaspora is this: They should not stand as a barrier before a resolution of regional problems, while living far away [from the region]. I see that [the diaspora] in some countries has been assuming this as a policy in order to maintain their identities. But this is not right,” Gül said.

“If they are thinking about Armenia's future, then they should also support all peace and cooperation efforts in the Caucasus. Otherwise, it would be very easy just to speak while living far away [from the region].” After Paris, Sarksyan was 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 a deal to establish ties. Armenians abroad -- estimated at 5.7 million -- outnumber the 3.2 million living in Armenia itself, the smallest of the ex-Soviet republics. The largest communities are in Russia (2 million), the United States (1.4 million), Georgia (460,000) and France (450,000), according to government data.