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Nagorno-Karabakh Dimension Of French-Turkish Conflict

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Nagorno-Karabakh Dimension Of French-Turkish Conflict

Azerbaijani troops during clashes in Nagorno-Karabakh. Click to see full-size image

On September 27th, after the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh region flared up, France immediately called on Yerevan and Baku to end hostilities and restart dialogue.

“France is extremely concerned by the confrontation,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll said in a statement.

Along with the United States and Russia, France is a co-president of the Minsk group.

On September 28th, French President Emmanuel Macron and Azerbaijani leader Ilham Aliyev discussed the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone in a phone call.

Emmanuel Macron expressed his France’s concern about the armed confrontation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani Line of Contact and stressed the need to resolve the conflict through talks, the press service of the Azerbaijani president said.

On Armenia’s side, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has held phone talks with French President Emmanuel Macron on September 27th to discuss the ongoing escalation of tensions in Nagorno-Karabakh, emphasising the importance of keeping Turkey out of the armed hostilities.

“Nikol Pashinyan expressed deep concern over the current situation and its further escalation. In particular, he stressed that Azerbaijan was resorting to provocations with a view to launching military operations on the state borders of the Republic of Armenia. Calling his interlocutor’s attention to Turkey’s strongly biased and aggressive stance, the Premier stressed the need to prevent the possible intervention of that country,” the Armenian Prime Minister’s press service said.

As quoted in the press release, Macron described the escalation as “unacceptable” and called for an intensification of efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs — which aside from France include Russia and the United States — toward “reinstating peace in the region.”

Back in 2018, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that Paris planned to ramp up efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute.

“We hope that in the coming months we will work more actively to search for the ways of settling the Karabakh conflict,” Le Drian said on May 27th, 2018, during a joint news conference with his Azerbaijani counterpart in Baku.

He said the current situation was “not an option” and added that “France seeks peace and stability in the region.”

“France, as co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, will make the necessary efforts for a peaceful settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and we believe that it is necessary to improve the work of the OSCE in this regard”, he said.

Azerbaijan’s foreign minister Elmar Mammadyarov told reporters that he and Le Drian had held substantive discussions on the issue.

“We adhere to the strategy of resolving the conflict peacefully, and I am sure that France as co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group will continue to help resolve this situation,” Mammadyarov said.

It appears that very little has been achieved, since there was another flare up prior to this one which was quite significant, but nothing compared to what is transpiring now.

Regardless, France surely feels the need to involve itself, especially since Turkey appears to be sending militants and equipment to assist Azerbaijan.

Currently, Paris and Ankara’s interests clash in Libya, as well as in the Mediterranean Sea, and this is yet another direction in which France cannot allow itself to be on the backfoot and allow Turkey to spread its influence further, since any successful undertaking would mean it would have more support in future endeavors.

France, however, has another reason to involve itself, as mentioned above France is a co-president of the Minsk group along with the US and Russia.

France is a mediator of the conflict along with the United States and Russia, a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group. The country calls for an immediate end to hostilities and a resumption of dialogue, reaching a negotiated and lasting settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, in accordance with international law (27.09.2020)

Relations between France and Armenia: the centuries-old friendly relations between the Armenian and French peoples, dating back to the times of the Armenian kingdom in Cilicia, were a solid foundation for establishing close ties between states after Armenia gained independence. Nowadays two countries have an established close political dialogue, strengthened by regular mutual visits; they are developing the bilateral cooperation, which is especially dynamic in the educational and university spheres, cultural, academic and trade exchanges.

Nagorno-Karabakh Dimension Of French-Turkish Conflict

ILLUSTRATIVE IMAGE

After the Armenian Genocide, thousands of Armenians took refuge in France and contributed to the formation of sympathy for the Armenian people there. France plays a decisive role in the process of international recognition of the Armenian Genocide being the first state in the world to give the force of law to the recognition of the Armenian genocide in 2001.

France is an important partner of the Republic of Armenia in its relations with the European Union; there is cooperation between the two countries in international organizations (UNO, Council of Europe, OSCE). Besides, the two countries cooperate within the framework of the International Organisation of la Francophonie.

The Armenian diaspora in France numbers more than 600 thousand people – it is the third largest Armenian diaspora in the world after the ones in the United States and in Russia and it constitutes a natural bridge between the two countries. The Diaspora managed to create a wide network of Armenian associations, represented mainly in the Coordination Council of Armenian Organizations of France.

The level of bilateral economic cooperation is lower than the one of political cooperation. Still France continues to occupy important positions in terms of the volume of investments in the Armenian economy.

Relations between France and Azerbaijan: France was the second country to recognize the independence of the country on December 31, 1991; later France opened an embassy in Baku. Since then, the two countries have united economically, culturally and politically. France plays an important role in cooperation between the European Union and Azerbaijan within the framework of the European Neighborhood Policy.

The problem in their relation is the current regime in Azerbaijan: it is not a democratic regime, so the relations between two different regimes that do not share the exact fundamental values are complicated.  However France takes into account that Azerbaijan is learning democracy, which would take time. France maintains good relations with Azerbaijan, maintaining a political dialogue and, in addition, an economic presence. At the same time, at the highest state level, France reminds Azerbaijani officials of the negative human rights situation.

France is interested in a peaceful and impartial settlement of the conflict in view of its long-standing friendship and partnership with both countries (especially Armenia). France assumes a particular responsibility in this matter and is firmly committed to establishing lasting peace and security in the region as well as ensuring the protection of populations in a peaceful world along with the principle of non-violence.

At the same time, Paris’ interests are in conflict with Turkish actions in the Eastern Mediterranean and Libya, where the ongoing Turkish expansion poses a threat to French businesses and influence.

Nagorno-Karabakh Dimension Of French-Turkish Conflict

Click to see the full-size image

This is clearly seen from the French posture towards the Turkish intervention in Libya. Being a NATO member state (as well as Turkey), France in fact contributed active diplomatic efforts to undermine Turkish attempts to get support from NATO and the EU in its campaign against the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar. The pro-Turkish Government of National Accord, based in Tripoli, also did not get any real help from France. Instead, pro-Turkish sources accused Paris of supporting the LNA. In the Eastern Mediterranean, France united with Egypt and Greece to stop the Turkish natural resources exploration in contested waters. In these conditions, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and thus the ongoing Armenian-Azerbaijani war has already become another dimension of the ongoing French-Turkish standoff.

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