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Yerevan Silent On French-Armenian Leader’s Deportation


France - Mourad Papazian, a leader of the French-Armenian community, speaks at an Armenian genocide remembrance ceremony in Paris, April 24, 2022.

The Armenian authorities have declined to explain their decision to ban a leader of France’s influential Armenian community critical of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian from entering Armenia.

Mourad Papazian, co-chairman of the Coordination Council of Armenian Organizations of France (CCAF), was detained at Yerevan’s Zvartnots international airport and deported back to Paris last Thursday. He says that said immigration officers there gave no reason for his deportation.

The National Security Service (NSS), which is in charge of passport control at Zvartnots, on Wednesday refused to explain what was a rare entry ban slapped on a prominent Armenian Diaspora figure. The NSS only cited a legal provision which allows it to withhold such information if it breaches “the secrecy of a person’s private or family life.”

Papazian, who is also a leading member of Dashnaktsutyun, a pan-Armenian party in opposition to Pashinian’s government, insisted, meanwhile, that his expulsion was politically motivated.

“Mr. Pashinian doesn’t accept opposition both inside and outside [Armenia,]” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. “There is a serious problem with democracy behind this affair.”

France/Armenia - French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during the Co-ordination Council of Armenian Organisations of France (CCAF) annual dinner in Paris, 05Feb, 2019
France/Armenia - French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during the Co-ordination Council of Armenian Organisations of France (CCAF) annual dinner in Paris, 05Feb, 2019

The CCAF, which is an umbrella structure uniting France’s leading Armenian organizations, condemned Yerevan’s decision as an “attack on democracy” and “brutal blow” to the French-Armenian community.

“Armenia also belongs to the Diaspora, to the sons of survivors of the [1915] genocide, especially when they fight for their rights,” the CCAF said in a July 15 statement. “And no one can decide to exclude activists of the Armenian cause from it to settle political scores.”

The Armenian government has still not reacted to this criticism echoed by its domestic political opponents.

Zareh Sinanyan, the government’s Armenian-American high commissioner for Diaspora affairs, claimed this week that he does not know why Papazian was denied entry to Armenia. Sinanyan at the same time accused the CCAF and Dashnaktsutyun of pressuring European politician not to cooperate with the authorities in Yerevan.

Some Armenian pro-government media outlets have said that Papazian was deported because the authorities believe he was behind an anti-Pashinian demonstration staged during the prime minister’s June 2021 visit to Paris.

Papazian denies any involvement in that protest. He was able to visit Armenia as recently as in May.

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