"France sees Armenia as its key to the South Caucasus"
    Igor Ignatchenko talks to Caliber.Az

    INTERVIEWS  18 May 2023 - 14:53

    Huseyn Safarov

    Caliber.Az had an interview with Igor Ignatchenko, Ph.D. in History, Frankologist, and Associate Professor at the Institute of Social Sciences at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RPANEPA).

    - Recently, it was reported that France decided to start supplying lethal weapons to Armenia. Does Paris thereby violate the common European policy not to supply lethal weapons to conflict regions?

    - I believe that with the world changing rapidly and the rules of the game constantly rewritten, possible legal contradictions are unlikely to stop France's ardour. In this case, it may be a matter of interpretations of certain documents; in their absence, Paris can always point to a "special case", etc. France, as a state, has vast historical experience in interpreting these or those documents and the ability to turn the situation to its advantage. Therefore, one should not expect the EU or NATO to give any decisive response to the French initiatives now. Especially since the French can tell their Western partners that they have chosen Armenia as a deterrent against Russia's ambitions in the region and therefore their decisions are legitimate and in line with the current requirements.

    - What do you think is the reason for the French to pay more attention to our region?

    - France has always wanted to be present in Transcaucasia (South Caucasus - Ed.) and they now see Armenia as their key to the region. In recent years the European country has progressively strengthened its bilateral relations with Yerevan. Now, when Russia is busy with other issues, there is a unique opportunity to replace its influence in the region with that of France, and the French government does not intend to miss this opportunity. It has, as we know, traditionally aspired to play the role of great power and arbitrator in regional conflicts.

    The decision to supply lethal weapons to Armenia is obviously driven by the desire to deepen cooperation and prove its importance and relevance to Armenia. Since France has recently positioned itself as that country's main defender in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, the decision to demonstrate its interest in a partner in this way is quite logical and follows from the situation described above.

    - So what is the greater reason for supplying French arms to Armenia, economic interests or political ones?

    - It seems that this decision reflects rather the political interest of France, namely the desire to assert its influence in Armenia, replace the weakening Russian dominance there, and through it to further influence the entire region of the South Caucasus, and possibly the North. However, there are also certain economic interests since the desire to find new markets for French military products is still relevant. In this context, the current decision of the French authorities may be regarded as a PR ploy.

    - Can this affect the balance of power in the region?

    - At this stage, this decision is unlikely to seriously affect the balance of power in the region.



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