Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on Tuesday spoke over the phone with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron to discuss the situation in Karabakh, according to the Azerbaijani presidency.
During the call, Aliyev and Macron discussed the situation in the region and the opening of the Aghdam-Khankendi and Lachin-Khankendi roads, a presidency statement said.
Aliyev told Macron that Armenia and “the puppet regime, which it created and supports in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, are deliberately creating artificial obstacles for the use of the Aghdam-Khankendi road, and are exploiting this for political manipulation,” according to the statement.
“The President of Azerbaijan noted that Armenia and the puppet regime refused the initial agreement reached on the transportation of goods via the Aghdam-Khankendi road through the mediation of the International Committee of the Red Cross,” it said, adding: “The Armenian leadership also brought goods, which it claimed were for humanitarian purposes, in the direction of the state border without the Azerbaijani side’s agreement, and the purpose here is political speculation.”
Aliyev said that his country invited representatives of the Armenian population of Karabakh to Baku and other cities of Azerbaijan to discuss reintegration issues, but they refused and “purposefully made allegations about the tense humanitarian situation.”
“President Ilham Aliyev noted that following the opening of the Aghdam-Khankendi road, the Lachin-Khankendi road can be used by observing the customs and border regime rules of Azerbaijan,” the statement said.
It said that Macron also expressed France’s willingness to contribute to the stabilization of the situation and de-escalation of the prevailing tension, and proposed to continue contacts between the relevant authorities of Paris and Baku.
Tension between Azerbaijan and France over Karabakh
Azerbaijan earlier on Tuesday said that comments made by French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna about the situation in Karabakh a day earlier were “unacceptable.”
“French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna’s statements such as this, which do not serve peace and stability in the region and show a one-sided pro-Armenian position, are unacceptable,” Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokesman Aykhan Hajizada said in a statement released by the ministry.
Hajizada accused Colonna of “turning a blind eye” to matters such as the occupation of the Karabakh region by Armenia for nearly 30 years, the displacement of nearly one million Azerbaijanis as refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs), and provocations by Yerevan since the end of the 2nd Karabakh War, calling it an “example of an illegal and unethical approach.”
He also denied the top French diplomat’s claims that a policy is being implemented to stymie efforts to reintegrate Armenian residents of Karabakh and expel them from the region.
Hajizada said “Once again, we call on the French side to put an end to such provocative and provocative ideas.”
Colonna claimed during a speech at a conference in Paris on Monday that efforts are being made to “give the people of Nagorno-Karabakh the opportunity to live there, as well as to respect their rights, culture and history.”
She also claimed that efforts have been made to “incite” a mass exodus of Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh.