France’s decision to provide military aid to Armenia has drawn criticism from Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev. He argues that this move could worsen tensions in the South Caucasus and potentially lead to another conflict. Aliyev has been vocal about his dissatisfaction with the European Union’s position on the dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia. As a result, he pulled out of EU-brokered talks with Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. The European Union has expressed its support for Armenia in the regional conflict. Aliyev conveyed his criticism of the EU’s position, particularly that of France, during a phone call with the President of the European Council, Charles Michel.
A statement issued by Baku on Saturday revealed the Azerbaijani president’s frustration with France’s stance. The statement explained that Azerbaijan did not participate in a meeting in Granada due to France’s well-known position.
France’s Foreign Minister, Catherine Colonna, visited Yerevan on October 3 and agreed to future contracts with Armenia for the supply of military assets. Colonna highlighted that this support would contribute to Armenia’s defense capabilities. Additionally, French President Emmanuel Macron criticized Azerbaijan, claiming that Baku struggles to adhere to recognized international law.
Aliyev’s concerns stem from Azerbaijan’s recent military operation in the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The operation led to the displacement of approximately 120,000 ethnic Armenians, with most seeking refuge in Armenia. Aliyev maintains that his actions were in accordance with international law and emphasizes the importance of reclaiming eight villages in Azerbaijan that he claims are currently under Armenian occupation.
The longstanding geopolitical rivalry between Azerbaijan and Armenia can be attributed to the presence of tens of thousands of ethnic Armenians within Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized borders, fueling tensions between the two countries.
While France’s decision to provide military aid to Armenia is seen as a gesture of support by Yerevan, it is perceived by Aliyev as a provocation that could escalate the conflict further. He warns that if a new conflict were to arise in the region, France would be held responsible for exacerbating the situation.
The complex dynamics of the South Caucasus region require a delicate approach to prevent further conflict and promote peaceful resolution. International bodies such as the European Union have a role to play in facilitating dialogue and seeking mutually acceptable solutions for all parties involved. It remains to be seen how France’s military aid will impact the already fragile situation in the South Caucasus and whether it will contribute to the resolution of the longstanding dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia.