Armenian PM in France for gala soiree

19th February 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Feb 17, 2007 (AFP) - Armenian President Robert Kocharian arrived here on Saturday for a four-day visit kicking off with a fund-raising gala soiree as part of France's "Year of Armenia," the French foreign ministry said.

PARIS, Feb 17, 2007 (AFP) - Armenian President Robert Kocharian arrived here on Saturday for a four-day visit kicking off with a fund-raising gala soiree as part of France's "Year of Armenia," the French foreign ministry said.

Eighty-two-year-old crooner Charles Aznavour, one of a 400,000-strong Armenian diaspora living in France, will give a concert at the evening ahead of the release of a new album on Monday.

Funds raised will go towards the week-long visit later this year of hundreds of Armenian children learning French.

On Monday Kocharian was due to have a working lunch with French President Jacques Chirac, who paid a state visit late last year during which he called on Turkey to confront its past before joining the European Union.

France has been at the forefront of efforts to persuade Turkey to recognise as genocide the 1915 massacre of Armenians under the Ottoman empire.

Last year the French lower house adopted a bill -- which still requires approval from the senate and the president -- making it a crime to deny that the genocide took place.

Turkey rejects the use of the term "genocide," saying that while some 300,000 Armenians died when the Ottoman Empire fell apart, at least as many Turks also perished.

Commercial ties are also strong between Paris and Yerevan, with France one of the biggest foreign investors in Armenia, foreign ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei said.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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