Azerbaijan rebukes France in dispute with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna at the Genocide Memorial in Armenia, April 27, 2023
French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna at the Genocide Memorial in Armenia, April 27, 2023 Copyright KAREN MINASYAN / AFP
By Mark Armstrong with AFP
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As French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna visits the South Caucasus, Paris is accused of not using its influence on Armenia in the ongoing dispute with Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.


Azerbaijan has accused France of not doing enough to calm tensions in the South Caucasus. 

The rebuke comes as French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna arrived in the region on Wednesday amid renewed arguments between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the long-disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The two countries have fought two wars over the mountainous enclave of Karabakh, and after the latest bout of fighting in 2020, Moscow brokered a ceasefire. 

France has a large Armenian minority, and President Emmanuel Macron has sought to retain Paris's influence over resolving the decades-long Karabakh conflict.

But in the Azeri capital Baku on Thursday, Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov spoke to reporters alongside Colonna claiming that France has not used its influence with Armenia.

 "Over these past years, France has never appealed to Armenia," said Bayramov.

Although France is one of the international mediators in the conflict, Baku and Moscow have recently accused Paris of undermining the peace process.

However, the French foreign minister said that while she believed peace is still possible, Azerbaijan and Armenia could do better in trying to end the conflict.

"Progress towards peace requires the renunciation of the use of force and even the threat of force," said Colonna, "and this is a message that applies to both parties. I could also refer to rhetoric that feeds distrustful behaviours where we need to find the path of trust."

Ongoing tensions fuel mistrust

The latest tensions between the two countries flared up last weekend when Azerbaijan set up a checkpoint on the Lachin corridor, the only land link between Armenia and Azerbaijan's Armenian-majority region. 

On Thursday, Bayramov said that Azerbaijan had every right to set up the checkpoint on "its territory" and the move was in line with its constitution.

He accused Armenia of using the land link to bring in "arms and ammunition" to Karabakh.

Earlier in the day Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan called for "a wider international presence" in Karabakh and the Lachin corridor.

He has repeatedly accused Russian peacekeepers of failing to protect ethnic Armenians living in the breakaway region.

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