France to blame for any new conflict with Armenia – Azerbaijan
France’s move to supply military aid to Armenia could inflame tensions in the South Caucasus and lead to fresh conflict, Azerbaijan’s president Ilham Aliyev has said.
Aliyev has been critical of the European Union’s (EU) position on Baku’s dispute with Yerevan, and pulled out of EU-brokered talks scheduled with Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan earlier this month. At the summit, Brussels said it was standing by Armenia in the regional dispute.
In a telephone call with the President of the European Council Charles Michel, Aliyev was critical of the EU’s position, and particularly that of France, according to a statement issued by Baku on Saturday.
“Due to the well-known position of France, Azerbaijan did not participate in the meeting in Granada,” the statement from the office of the Azerbaijani president said.
“The head of state emphasized that the provision of weapons by France to Armenia was an approach that was not serving peace but one intended to inflate a new conflict, and if any new conflict occurs in the region, France would be responsible for causing it.”
During an October 3 diplomatic visit to Yerevan, France’s Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna agreed on the provision of future contracts with Armenia to supply military assets, which, she said, will help ensure its defenses. Separately, French President Emmanuel Macron had criticism for Azerbaijan, saying Baku seems to have difficulties following recognized international law.
Aliyev’s comments follow Azerbaijan’s 24-hour military operation in the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh last month, which triggered a mass exodus of about 120,000 ethnic Armenians in the region, most of whom went to Armenia.
The Azerbaijani president insisted that he had acted in step with international law, saying that eight villages in Azerbaijan remained “under Armenian occupation” and emphasizing the importance of liberating them.
The former Soviet states have been involved in a decades-long geopolitical rivalry, largely due to Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized borders being home to tens of thousands of ethnic Armenians.