Hundreds of European Armenians demonstrated in Brussels on Friday to urge the European Union to force Turkey to recognize the Armenian genocide before joining the bloc.
Organizers said that 2,500 people participated in the protest in a park several hundred meters from Brussels' EU quarter where heads of state and government were holding a summit. An AFP journalist put the number of protestors at about 500.
"The EU must be more demanding in Turkey's accession negotiations," said Mourad Papazian, president of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation party for western Europe. "We are not against Turkey joining but against a Turkey that refuses to leave Cyprus, to recognize Cyprus, to recognize the Armenian genocide and Kurds' rights," he added.
While the EU has demanded that Turkey improve the respect of human rights and recognize Cyprus, the recognition of the Armenian genocide has never been a condition for it joining.
Armenia’s Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian reaffirmed earlier this week his support for Turkey’s membership in the EU, saying that it would benefit his country. “I think it would be good for us if Turkey’s desire to become a member of the European Union were satisfied,” he told the Financial Times during a visit to Brussels. “Maybe the problems between us could find a solution within an EU framework.”
Unlike some other Armenian leaders, Sarkisian did not call for any EU preconditions for the Turkish membership.