Wednesday February 28, 2024

Azerbaijan accuses France of inciting conflict in Caucasus

November 22, 2023
Internationally-mediated peace talks between the ex-Soviet republics have seen little progress. — AFP File
Internationally-mediated peace talks between the ex-Soviet republics have seen little progress. — AFP File

BAKU: President Ilham Aliyev on Tuesday accused France of inciting conflicts in the Caucasus by arming Azerbaijan’s longtime rival Armenia, with which it has fought two wars.

Baku and Yerevan have been locked in a decades-long territorial conflict over Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh region, which Baku reclaimed in September after a lightning offensive against Armenian separatists.

“(France) is pursuing a militaristic policy by arming Armenia, encouraging revanchist forces in Armenia, and laying the groundwork for provoking new wars in our region,” Aliyev said in written comments to an international conference in Baku.

In a statement read out by his foreign policy advisor, Aliyev said Paris was “disrupting stability not only in its former and current colonies, but also in the South Caucasus, where it is supporting separatist trends and separatists.”

Home to a large Armenian diaspora, France has been routinely criticised by Azerbaijan for harbouring “pro-Armenian bias” in the Caucasus countries’ territorial conflict.

Aliyev doubled down on the criticism during a press conference with Iraq’s President Abdul Latif Rashid on Monday.

He accused France of “playing a very destructive role in the Southern Caucasus.” “The wrong messages from the French government actually create illusions in the Armenian government... that they can again launch a military aggression against Azerbaijan.”

He accused Armenia’s government of “thinking about revenge” after Azerbaijan regained control over the Nagorno-Karabakh region this fall.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said last week that Yerevan’s “political will to sign a peace agreement with Azerbaijan in the coming months remains unwavering.”

Aliyev said Azerbaijan recently tabled its proposals for a future peace treaty with Armenia and awaited Yerevan’s response.

And in a statement Tuesday, his foreign ministry said it “stands prepared for direct negotiations with Armenia on a bilateral basis to finalize the peace agreement as soon as possible.”

Azerbaijan has recently refused meetings under the mediation of the EU or the US, accusing them of favouring Armenia.