Paris threatens stability in South Caucasus by arming Yerevan
    Current Armenian-French agenda

    ANALYTICS  20 June 2023 - 11:14

    Matanat Nasibova

    Armenian Defence Minister Suren Papikyan, accompanied by a delegation, has travelled to France. Reportedly, at the invitation of French Minister of Armed Forces Sébastien Lecornu. It is not hard to guess that the current Armenian-French agenda includes the supply of weapons to Armenia and, in a direct connection, the appointment of a new military attaché to the French embassy in Yerevan.
    As for the latter, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said during her visit to Yerevan in April that a new military attache would be appointed to the French Embassy in Armenia, and last week the Armenian media reported about possible deliveries of 50 French armoured personnel carriers to Yerevan. By the way, information about the supply of armoured vehicles appeared in open sources in mid-May, which was particularly confirmed by Director of the Institute for Forecasting and Security in Europe (IPSE) Emmanuel Dupuy in one of his interviews. He said that France would supply 50 VAB MK3 armoured personnel carriers to Armenia, adding that in addition to the aforementioned vehicles, the possibility of Armenia purchasing Bastion and Sherpa armoured vehicles manufactured by the French company Arquus was also discussed.

    Nevertheless, it is worth noting that France's intensified military cooperation with Armenia became particularly evident after Minister Papikyan visited Paris last September, where he spoke closely with his French counterpart Sébastien Lecornu.

    And in October of the same year, a delegation from the French Ministry of Armed Forces arrived in Yerevan and, following meetings with Armenian Defence Minister Suren Papikyan, Armenian Minister of Hi-Tech Industry Robert Khachatryan and Secretary of the Security Council Armen Grigoryan, approved the appointment of a permanent French defence attaché to Yerevan.

    Curiously, information about upcoming military supplies from France to Armenia appeared as early as March-April this year in virtually every international publication. In particular, Global Security Review, an American analytical resource on international security, reported on the likelihood of deliveries of French Mistral anti-aircraft missile systems to Armenia, while, which is considered the secret mouthpiece of the French secret services, closed to the public, announced that official Paris had begun preparations for the export of weapons to Armenia. That is, France's activity in the South Caucasus has been noted by a number of the world's leading media, and the Iranian media have not ignored it either. Although the surprising point is that Iran became one of Armenia's arms suppliers after its defeat in the Second Karabakh War.

    The Iranian Yazeco news agency emphasised to its readers that President Emmanuel Macron personally provided the main support for Paris' military-political decision to send weapons to Armenia. In other words, it stressed that the position of official Paris no longer diverges from that of the Senate. And by the way, in the same Senate, the head of the France-Armenia Friendship Group, [Gilbert-Luc] Devinaz, known for his ardent pro-Armenian views, recently again voiced maxims related to "the security of Armenian borders". "...We must allow Armenia to secure its borders, that is, we must help it to arm itself," the French senator urged less than a month ago.

    By and large, Paris's insistence on supplying arms to Armenia has the obvious aim of squeezing itself back into the South Caucasus. Firstly, to act as a guarantor of Armenia's security. Secondly, to rub Russia's nose in it. Especially at this stage, when Armenia is ready to turn almost 180 degrees in the direction of the West.

    Of course, for France, which was deprived of a presence at the Armenian-Azerbaijani talks after the dissolution of the useless OSCE Minsk Group, the opportunity to mediate means primarily promoting its interests in the South Caucasus. There is no doubt that throughout the confrontation between Armenia and Azerbaijan, France has pursued purely for its own benefit, in the expectation that maintaining a hotbed of tension in the region would enable it to establish a broad presence in the Caucasus over time. That is why Paris did everything possible to prevent the UNSC resolutions from being implemented by Armenia. For example, French politicians encouraged elements of separatism in the territory of Azerbaijan, stimulating tension in the region, which ultimately prevented the negotiations from progressing in a peaceful direction.

    On the other hand, for France, as for the other interested negotiators, Russia's war in Ukraine has paradoxically played into its hands. Moscow has become completely bogged down in the Ukrainian crisis, although it is trying to keep the situation in the South Caucasus under its control. Armenia is a member of Francophonie, which means it is ready to dance to any chanson of Paris. At the same time, Armenia is a member of the Francophonie, so it is ready to dance to any chanson of Paris.

    It is therefore possible that Paris, in order to press Baku through military cooperation with Yerevan, is trying to create a threat factor for the security of the entire region.

    It is clear that any deliveries to Armenia from France, India or Iran will definitely contribute to the militarisation of the region, and Paris is well aware of this too. And they deliberately create all the conditions to blow up the region and prevent Baku's peace initiatives. That is one thing.

    Second, it also seems to be Paris' long-range aim to replace Moscow with its presence in Armenia in case of withdrawal of the Russian military base from Gyumri. Although the likelihood of such a scenario, even taking into account Russia's protracted war in Ukraine, the stability of the entire region could be threatened by the dangerous politico-military games of Yerevan and Paris.


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