French mayor takes down Ukrainian flag over Zelensky phone call
The mayor of the southeastern French city of Vienne has decided to remove the Ukrainian flag from the city hall, citing an “unacceptable” phone call between Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.
Thierry Kovacs explained that the flag was originally raised to show solidarity with Kiev in its armed conflict with Russia. He argued, however, that it was “impossible to claim Western values and call for the West to come to the rescue” while supporting Azerbaijan and the “ethnic cleansing” of Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh.
“This doesn’t take anything away from Vienne’s support for the Ukrainian people, but we can’t fight a totalitarian regime in the name of European values, while at the same time encouraging another dictatorial and barbaric regime. It’s a question of consistency,” the mayor wrote on Facebook on Thursday.
Zelensky said he had thanked Aliyev during a phone call on Wednesday for his country’s “significant humanitarian assistance,” and that both leaders “reaffirmed our commitment to the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity of states.”
Last month, Azerbaijan re-established control over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh during a brief “counterterrorism” operation. The enclave, which was mainly populated by ethnic Armenians, declared independence from Baku in the early 1990s, but was not recognized by any country, including Armenia.
Although Baku promised to protect civilians, more than 100,000 Armenians – or roughly 90% of Nagorno-Karabakh’s estimated population – fled the enclave after a ceasefire was reached in late September.