Armenian longing for its French sister
    Baku shut the door in front of Macron

    ANALYTICS  30 November 2022 - 17:28

    Matanat Nasibova
    Caliber.Az

    Armenia is trying in vain to redirect the negotiations with Azerbaijan into Paris in an attempt to make France the main moderator in the normalization process. In an interview with Armenpress, the Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan said that Yerevan is ready to organize a meeting between Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Head of the European Council Charles Michel and French President Emmanuel Macron within an acceptable time.

    “During the four-party gathering held in Prague, an agreement was reached regarding the next meeting. We believe that the talks held in this format in Prague were quite productive and important in the context of the normalization of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The Armenian side is still interested in the settlement of relations”, the minister said.

    Armenia’s desire to involve France in the negotiating process and make Paris the main mediator on the European negotiating track is understandable. It is enough to recall how, during the quadripartite meeting of leaders on the sidelines of the “European Political Community” summit in Prague, the French side, as tradition will have it, tried to lobby for the interests of Armenia.

    However, thanks to the resolute stance of the Azerbaijani President, Macron failed to make Baku the culprit of the September border incidents committed by Armenia. As a result, the expectations of the Armenian side from the Prague talks burst like a bubble seeing as Azerbaijan and Armenia recognized each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty in the final statement. The principle of sovereignty mentioned therein confirmed that Armenia recognized the sovereignty of Azerbaijan over Karabakh.

    Thus, following the Prague meeting, Baku has earned itself additional diplomatic bonuses, as its results clearly prevented Armenia’s efforts to torpedo a peaceful agenda implying mutual recognition of sovereignty and the inviolability of borders.

    However, despite Armenia’s failure in Prague, the Paris factor is the only way for Yerevan to push its interests through the negotiations, so there is no doubt that Yerevan will continue to count on France’s patronage. This was confirmed by the meeting of the Secretary of the Armenian Security Council Armen Grigoryan in Paris on November 28 with the diplomatic Advisor on continental Europe and Turkey to the French President, Isabelle Dumont, Director of the Continental Europe Department of the French Foreign Ministry Frédéric Mondoloni and the Deputy Head of the International Relations and Strategic Planning Department of the French Defence Ministry Vice Admiral Christophe Luca. According to the Armenian media, the participants exchanged views on a number of issues on the international and regional security agenda, at which Grigoryan once again gave his on-hold statement on “Yerevan’s readiness to support peace in the South Caucasus”.

    Baku, in turn, does not hide its dissatisfaction with the biased French policy, which has been stated by the President of Azerbaijan repeatedly and categorically. Thus, President Ilham Aliyev, speaking at the international conference “Along the Middle Corridor: Geopolitics, Security and Economy” on November 25 in Baku, considered it necessary to report on the facts of Paris' destructive position.

    “Less than a week after the meeting in Prague, French President Macron criticized Azerbaijan in an interview, accusing us of something we did not do. This was followed by a widely known resolution of the French Senate, which is totally unacceptable and offensive. Subsequently, it is expected that the French National Assembly will adopt another anti-Azerbaijani resolution. There was an attempt by France to attack us through the Francophonie summit. This is unacceptable, as Francophonie is a humanitarian organization”, President Aliyev said.

    The Head of State stressed that the Azerbaijani side is in possession of draft text, drawn up by France in tandem with Armenia, which, according to him, is full of accusations and insinuations. “But we have friends not only in the Non-Aligned Movement, but also in Europe. Thus, this anti-Azerbaijani resolution is something formal”, Aliyev stated.

    Given all this, it is understandable why France cannot participate in the peace process. This means that the December 7 meeting will not take place, as President Aliyev said.

    “Let’s see who will act as a mediator and on what platform”, the president said, noting that he considers Pashinyan’s proposal of Macron to participate in the Brussels meeting “an attempt to disrupt the peace talks”.

    That is, the official Baku has argued its position in relation to France. Baku’s categorical refusal addressed to Paris, has also a good reason, because France, during the almost 30 years of occupation of Azerbaijani territories, has not ceased to lobby the interests of Armenia while actually having the mandate of the OSCE Minsk Co-Chair, meaning a peacekeeper’s obligation to be neutral.

    The French side continues to show a similar bias against our country in the post-conflict period, as demonstrated by the recent resolution of the French Senate recommending sanctions against Azerbaijan. 

    Meanwhile, following the Prague meeting, the President of Azerbaijan and the Prime Minister of Armenia held talks in Sochi, where they managed just fine without Macron’s mediation. All previous meetings in Brussels also took place in the trilateral format: Aliyev, Michel and Pashinyan. Against this background, France’s attempts to get into the negotiating process in any way are ridiculous, especially given another important nuance:

    Interest in the process of normalization of the Armenian-Azerbaijani talks in the post-conflict period is clearly visible not only from the Russian and European directions but also from the United States. The US State Department’s Senior Advisor for Caucasus negotiations, Philip Reeker, said that Washington is ready to support the process by all means. The US supports direct dialogue between Armenia and Azerbaijan and urges this momentum to continue into the new year”, he said on his recent visit to Baku on November 29.

    Interestingly, US State Secretary Antony Blinken’s statement before the meeting with Armenian and Azerbaijani Foreign Ministers Ararat Mirzoyan and Jeyhun Bayramov on November 7 in Blair House also stated that the US is committed to peace talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and noted that “direct dialogue is the best way to truly durable peace”.

    “Direct dialogue is the best way to a truly durable peace, and we are very pleased to support that. The United States strongly supports the sovereignty and territorial independence of both Armenia and Azerbaijan, and the 1991 restoration of independence was a vitally important moment in guaranteeing the rights of both countries, rights that we strongly support”, the US Secretary of State said.

    It is obvious that all this is a message of support to the conflict parties and at the same time to the mediators in the form of Russia and Europe, that Baku and Yerevan could do without the participation of third countries. This approach, in my view, is the most rational in the settlement of Armenian-Azerbaijani relations.

    According to the Head of the Laboratory on Political and Social Technologies of Russia, Aleksey Nezhivoy, Armenia is the only lever in the hands of France to influence on Türkiye, expressed during his interview with Caliber.Az.

    “The issue of energy security is acute in France, and, accordingly, all Mediterranean energy sources are leading to Türkiye. Erdogan is not a friend of the West and pursues his policy based only on the national interests of the country. Given that France cannot go to Russia, only Armenia remains, through which Paris tries to solve its own problems.

    Armenia, too, understands that a friendship with either Baku or Ankara is not on the horizon, so this is a case when the interests of Paris and Yerevan coincide, because in fact, Armenia is of no use to anyone, including the West.

    Baku rightly declared France inadmissible as a participant in the negotiating process, but it must be understood that the more Azerbaijan and Türkiye resent, the more Armenia will insist that France becomes the mediator in the Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiations”, the Russian expert said, noting that against the background of a complex geopolitical situation in the world, in particular the war in Ukraine, a rapprochement of Azerbaijan and Türkiye toward Russia seems to be most likely, who is the main mediator in the talks between Baku and Yerevan despite the attempts of Paris to intercept this initiative.

    Caliber.Az

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