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President Aliyev Accuses France of Destabilizing South Caucasus

By Gunay Hajiyeva March 1, 2024


President Ilham Aliyev in a meeting with a delegation led by Executive Director of the German Eastern Business Association Michael Harms, Baku, Azerbaijan, February 28, 2024 / President.Az

In a recent meeting in Baku with Michael Harms, the Executive Director of the German Eastern Business Association, President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan expressed concerns regarding France's role in escalating tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Specifically, he accused France of supplying lethal weapons to Armenia, thereby jeopardizing the peace process.

During the discussion, President Aliyev refuted claims about Azerbaijan's intentions towards Armenia, directly addressing allegations made by French President Emmanuel Macron.

“Firstly, where did Borrell obtain this information suggesting that Azerbaijan is planning to attack Armenia? We have no such plans. These are mere insinuations by Mr. Macron. All of this is part of the anti-Azerbaijan policy based on demonizing our country, supposedly related to Azerbaijan's alleged preparation for an attack on Armenia,” President Aliyev stated.

He also highlighted the current tranquility along the Azerbaijan-Armenia border since the last incident in September of the previous year. However, he noted a recent attempt by the Armenian military to escalate tensions in February, which resulted in an Azerbaijani serviceman being wounded by sniper fire, leading to retaliatory actions. According to President Aliyev, this incident clearly contradicts the narratives put forth by Borrell and Macron, revealing a stark difference from the ground realities.

President Aliyev emphasized Azerbaijan's commitment to peace, especially after the Second Karabakh (Garabagh) War, by initiating peace talks and drafting significant principles and agreement for a peaceful resolution. He questioned the logic behind preparing such documents if Azerbaijan was not genuinely interested in peace.

Reflecting on the past, President Aliyev reminisced about the 30-year occupation of Azerbaijani territories by Armenia and the ineffective mediation efforts by the US, France, and Russia. He accused them of biased actions against Azerbaijan.

“They did not want us to liberate our territories. And, last September, when we totally put an end to separatism, they were wrong again. And they're wrong now, some of them. I mean the United States and France. Russia, I think, understands now clearly what's happened and accepts the new realities. But I think the United States and France should also do the same. Otherwise, the situation will not be in line with their plans. They have to work with Azerbaijan, the leading country in the Caucasus, with the leading economy, army, and very broad international connections,” he added.

In a joint press briefing with PM Pashinyan in Paris on Wednesday, President Macron said France would continue to support Armenia and provide arms to Yerevan. He is convinced that the recent events on the border of Armenia and Azerbaijan indicate there is a “risk of escalation.”

Moreover, the French president called on Azerbaijan to solve “all ambiguities” regarding respect for the territorial integrity of Armenia.

France has been supplying military hardware to Armenia, including the French-made “Bastion” multi-purpose armored personnel carriers and components of the French “ARQUUS” brand for “Bastion” under the contracts signed “for expanding bilateral cooperation” in 2023. The “Mistral” short-range surface-to-air missiles and three radar systems are also reportedly on the export list.

In January, the members of the Azerbaijani parliament blamed France for undermining mutual confidence-building measures and peace efforts between Azerbaijan and Armenia by arming the latter and encouraging Armenian revanchists to wage a new war.

France’s military assistance to Armenia came on the heels of Azerbaijan’s one-day anti-terror operation in mid-September to neutralize illegal Armenian armed formations and their military infrastructure in the Karabakh region and restore Azerbaijan’s sovereignty over the region. At the time, France condemned the events in the Karabakh region as an offensive by Azerbaijan, voicing solidarity with Armenia.

Shortly after the delivery of the French-made military equipment to Armenia, the situation on the conditional Armenia-Azerbaijan border escalated on February 13 specifically in the direction of the Zangilan district after a sniper wounded an Azerbaijani serviceman. The State Border Service of Azerbaijan took retaliatory measures to push back the offensive. As a result, an Armenian military post, where the firing point was stationed, were neutralized.