Exploiting the consequences of the long-term ethnic conflict: Case of a French journalist
    Serving the "oldest civilization"

    ANALYTICS  07 February 2023 - 15:39

    Politics Department

    On January 23, the Council of the European Union agreed to establish a civilian European Union Mission in Armenia (EUMA) under the Common Security and Defense Policy. The mission’s objective is to contribute to stability in the border areas, build confidence on the ground, and ensure an environment conducive to normalization efforts between Armenia and Azerbaijan supported by the EU. The EU’s new civilian mission has been deployed on the ground following Armenia's government's efforts to obtain a physical "security guarantee" against Azerbaijan and stall the peace negotiations process.

    Unlike the previous short-term EU mission that was deployed in October 2022 following the results of the Prague summit, the Armenian authorities have enthusiastically lobbied and welcomed the mission. Although the mission’s scope of actions is limited to monitoring border areas, official Yerevan keeps promoting it as a deterrent factor against possible military escalation in the region. However, this time Armenia’s key security patron Russia openly objected to the deployment of the EU mission, whose peacekeepers have been deployed in the Karabakh region since the end of the 2020 war.

    It is noteworthy that Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan desperately attempts to move the country away from the Russian orbit, as he is highly suspicious of Moscow's potential to prevent any major armed escalation. Even Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan cheered the second mission, tweeting: "We very much welcome the EU's decision to send a fully-fledged civilian mission to Armenia. We will readily cooperate with the mission and support its activities. This mission will contribute to the region's peace, stability and security."

    Interestingly, amid the ongoing civilian protests of Azerbaijani environmental activists on the Lachin road, the Armenia government is continuing efforts to lobby its agenda by employing so-called European experts, political activists, and independent journalists such as Jean-Christophe Buisson, deputy editor at French Le Figaro newspaper.

    Mr Buisson, like his other French colleagues and state officials, fully apprehends the absurdity of their position and sentiments toward the de-facto separatist regime in Karabakh, which is an internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan and therefore cannot be recognized as an independent entity according to the speaker of the French National Assembly. Buisson, calling himself an unbiased journalist, does not refrain from blackmailing Azerbaijan at any chance accusing it of "deliberately creating a humanitarian crisis" in Karabakh, ignoring the fact that all vehicles of the Russian peacekeepers carrying food and medicine move alongside the road without any delays.

    Nonetheless, some foreign experts and journalists, as in the case of Mr Buisson, seem enthusiastic about exploiting the grievances of ethnic Azerbaijani and Armenians of Karabakh for their personal interests. Indeed, like other poorly-informed Western pundits in their critical tweets and reports, Buisson sharply criticized Azerbaijan's preventive actions during the 2020 war and in the post-war period but fell short of offering a solution plan that would address the concerns of both communities.

    Hence, the deep engagement of Mr Buisson in the anti-Azerbaijani campaign and lobbyist interests suggest that the new EU mission is mostly the result of the French government's initiative, and Paris is eager to transform this civilian mission into a permanent military mission gradually. Thus, a European military contingent would become a real "deterrence factor" for Azerbaijan once the Russian peace mission leaves Azerbaijan in 2025. Such a scenario will contribute to France's image as a "protector of Armenia."

    It is fair to note that Azerbaijan and Armenia both seek the active mediation of the EU to finalize the stalled peace process. Nevertheless, in tandem with the support of "independent journalists" and analysts like Mr Buisson, the Armenia-France duo is less interested in bringing two communities closer to the peace process, instead adding more fuel to the flame and mutual hatred.

    Notwithstanding the status of the new EU mission and its jurisdiction, official Baku made it clear that the status of Karabakh is not a subject for further discussions, and all peace plans must clearly emphasize the sovereignty of Azerbaijan and its territorial integrity.


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