"Macron urgently needs a foreign policy triumph, at least in the South Caucasus"
    Russian francologist on Caliber.Az

    INTERVIEWS  06 October 2022 - 18:06

    Huseyn Safarov

    Caliber.Az presents an interview with Igor Ignatchenko, a candidate of historical science, Russian francologist, and associate professor at the Institute of Social Sciences of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

    - Can the French political activity in the Armenian-Azerbaijani case be explained only by the factor of the Armenian Diaspora?

    - There is no doubt that the presence of a very powerful and strong Armenian lobby in the French political class is a key factor in supporting Armenia on the Armenian-Azerbaijani issue. However, when talking about the motivation behind the French involvement in the resolution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani problem, its desire to be as active as possible on the international stage should also be taken into account. French leader Emmanuel Macron and his entourage need new foreign policy triumphs, and they need to demonstrate the power of French diplomacy. Therefore, the role of negotiator and mediator is very appealing to Macron and his team. The desire to show that France is still a leading, great world power is one of the strongest arguments in favour of greater French involvement in the Armenian-Azerbaijani confrontation.

    - Will the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict add "value" to contradictions between Türkiye and France?

    - In this case, we can talk about the extent to which French involvement interacts with Franco-Turkish tensions. There is no doubt that the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict increases the degree of misunderstanding between Türkiye and France, but these disagreements have been going on for years. In fact, since Macron's first term, i.e. 2017. The whole period has been marked by tensions between Ankara and Paris, and so far there is no sign of any easing.

    France's support for Armenia fits well with the logic of the Franco-Turkish rivalry. Since we know that Türkiye is a strategic and key ally of Azerbaijan, France is siding with Armenia here France also takes the side of Armenia here partly within the framework of this conflict with Türkiye. However, the two important factors I mentioned above play a more important role.

    - Does France intend to oust Russia from the zone of its historical interests in the South Caucasus?

    - Undoubtedly. French diplomacy now has a unique opportunity to replace Russia in the South Caucasus region. We all perfectly understand that Moscow is currently busy with another, more important issue and the lack of attention to the region allows France to occupy the place which is practically vacant. Paris gets the opportunity to play a bigger role as a mediator and negotiator. As we know from Macron's first term, France under him is keen to strengthen its diplomatic component, to act as the main mediator in international conflicts. I think that France will certainly try to use the current situation to somewhat shake Russia's position in this region, which is important to Moscow.

    - Nikol Pashinyan has already several times voiced his proposal to deploy military personnel of one of the co-chair countries of the failed OSCE MG in Armenia, alluding to the USA and France. How feasible is this in practice?

    - In my opinion, in the near future, if we are talking about a short-term perspective, we should not expect a French military contingent in Armenia. After all, France seeks to position itself as a major diplomatic force. It can be said that sending some kind of military contingent within the framework of, perhaps, the OSCE Minsk Group or something else is not the style of managerial decision-making by the Macron administration. It is more likely that France will limit itself to sending a diplomatic mission. Again, if we talk about the short-term perspective, since we live in a time when it is simply impossible to make medium-term, all the more long-term forecasts, then I think that Paris will not provide military assistance to Yerevan, but will limit itself to diplomatic support and will be active in this very direction.

    However, it seems that the Armenian-Azerbaijani settlement is now at some periphery of the international political agenda, in particular in connection with the situation in Ukraine. I think all the attention of the French diplomatic corps will now be focused on the situation in Ukraine. And this will distract Paris from developments in the direction of the South Caucasus.


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