French arms & Armenian revanchism: What's behind the deal?
    Expert opinions

    INTERVIEWS  21 June 2024 - 14:14

    Vadim Mansurov

    Revanchist sentiments are rising in Armenia as Paris and Yerevan have signed a contract to supply CAESAR howitzers. Some prominent figures have even called on Emmanuel Macron to send French troops to Armenia.

    Among those who addressed Macron with this call are well-known Azerbaijanophobes: Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, philosopher Elisabeth Badinter, former Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs Bernard Kouchner, President of the Ile-de-France region Valerie Pecresse, MEPs Francois-Xavier Bellamy, Nathalie Loiseau, and other proponents of Armenian interests in Europe. However, this is not surprising.

    The Azerbaijani Defence Ministry responded to Armenia's desire to continue arming itself and France's intention to inflame the conflict in the South Caucasus.

    "Although the French Defence Ministry assured in its statement last October that the military equipment supplied to Armenia was defensive, equipping Armenia with lethal weapons under the current military deal is yet another manifestation of the hypocrisy of the French leadership. Macron's regime, pursuing a policy of militarisation and geopolitical intrigues in the South Caucasus region, hinders the normalization of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan and ensuring stable peace in the region," the ministry said in a statement.

    Meanwhile, Azerbaijani presidential aide Hikmat Hajiyev condemned France's actions in the region. In his opinion, France is pursuing a harmful policy in the South Caucasus, and arming Armenia threatens the achieved results and peace in the Caucasus.

    How do foreign political analysts assess this interference by France and the West in the affairs of the South Caucasus and the process of Armenia's militarisation, which is taking place with their support?

    According to Kirill Koktysh, a Belarusian political expert and professor at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, Macron is trying to assert France's leadership in the EU at any cost after it became clear that Germany can no longer cope with this role. He noted in a conversation with Caliber.Az that political projection has become Paris's trademark.

    However, Macron has virtually no arguments to justify such leadership: France's economy is in decline, it has lost its cultural leadership, and it is losing influence in Africa. Macron has no choice but to rattle his arms. He has threatened to send French troops to fight in Ukraine and is now trying to establish France as a player in the Caucasus. These games continue alternately.

    Given that France regularly fails in all its foreign policy projects, attempts to arm Armenia are unlikely to bring any justifiable results. The agreement on new deliveries of French howitzers to Armenia cannot be called serious. These attempts are rather irritating and provocative, without changing the balance of power. To expect the situation in the region to change with some French weapons is unrealistic. Armenia can only dream about raising its military potential to the level of the Azerbaijani army," Koktysh noted.

    According to Ruslan Aisin, a Russian political expert and editor-in-chief of the Truly portal, it is perplexing that Armenia continues active militarisation with the help of its Western "friends," despite Yerevan's talk about the need to sign a peace treaty.

    "But, as we understand, not all countries in the West want a peace treaty and peace in the South Caucasus in general, if only because France loses the opportunity to influence the South Caucasus. Through a smoldering controlled conflict, it has the opportunity to influence the region," the political analyst believes.

    In his opinion, by supplying arms to Armenia, France is trying to arouse revanchist sentiments in the Armenian establishment. This creates the illusion that with new weapons, Armenia will be able to return to the lost status quo.

    "But, of course, such hopes do not correspond to reality in any way. In France, it seems they believe that it is enough to put the idea into hot revanchist heads that it is possible to return everything, to win back the 'Armenian defeated honor.' It will indeed be possible to turn Armenia against Azerbaijan enough to arrange a new war or at least some large-scale provocation. However, all experts and analysts agree that Armenia has practically no chance in such a confrontation, and it is only being used for external purposes.

    Even Azerbaijani presidential foreign policy aide Hikmat Hajiyev noted that France pursues a very malicious policy in the South Caucasus. It is obvious that Paris's course in the region is not aimed at peace but at escalating conflict and war. France and its accomplices want to acquire their geopolitical stake in the South Caucasus through Armenia, while Baku and Ankara insist on building a peaceful dialogue with Armenia, offering all kinds of preferences and cooperation.

    France's interests are clear—it is not interested in a peace treaty between Baku and Yerevan. On the contrary, it will try to do everything to prevent this from happening. Another round of this provocative policy is the talk that American and French bases will appear in Armenia. Such intentions are predictable given Armenia's current course, but even if such bases appear, they will not significantly impact the balance of power in the region. Azerbaijan and Turkey, a NATO member, are the dominant forces in the region, and any calculations to bring Western forces into conflict with them are extremely unpromising, although Yerevan and Paris apparently believe otherwise," summarised Aisin.


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