Political analyst Farhad Mammadov comments on the results of the visit of French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna to Azerbaijan and its possible impact on further processes in an interview with Minval.az.
What is your take on the results of the French Foreign Minister’s visit to Azerbaijan? Would you say Colonna attempted to smooth over the rough edges in relations between Paris and Baku, but it did not work very well?
This is the French Foreign Minister’s regional tour. The South Caucasus region is becoming increasingly important for the EU, and for France in particular. It is because of the processes taking place in the region as well, but there is also an added factor of the contact with Central Asia, since Azerbaijan remains the only gateway to that region. Of course, for obvious reasons, the worst relations France has is with Azerbaijan. The French diplomacy has managed to smooth over the edges and bring its vision to the Azerbaijani side, but clearly, not all problems can be solved overnight with a single visit. Still, the mere fact that Azerbaijan does not reject this dialogue and demonstrates that it is ready to work with France and at least neutralize France’s negative influence on the negotiation process is commendable.
What were the main messages of the French Foreign Minister to the Azerbaijani side? For example, she talks about signing a peace treaty, but as it was clear from her statement, this peace treaty does not imply full recognition of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.
We must understand that France has nothing to do with the negotiation process between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Nothing at all. It lost this status at the end of last year and Azerbaijan grudgingly accepts the EU mediation. After the French president dealt a great blow to the EU’s credibility with his unilateral actions and provocations. Today we can say that in this context, namely in relations with Armenia, France is an absolute evil for Azerbaijan. Given all these elements, I do not think that Azerbaijan is interested in any kind of mediation between itself and Armenia. France today is a country that has dealt a great blow to the EU mediation mission and Charles Michel’s credibility personally, and that country interacts with the US in some form, but it is just a complimentary appendix to US mediation efforts.
In her speech, she essentially condemned Azerbaijan for setting up a checkpoint at the entrance to the Lachin corridor. How do you see the development of this situation? Should we expect pressure from France, the EU and the US over the border checkpoint?
The Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan gave comprehensive answers to all of Colonna’s statements, and demonstrated that Baku finds this position unacceptable and rejects it completely. There is such a thing as self-respect: if you see that your opinion is not respected, it must be corrected, or you must continue to pursue your line, but from a completely different angle. Azerbaijan has been disregarding France’s position from the very beginning of the 44-day war. So, if she saw it fit to get her message across to Baku once again, she received a proportional response. All of the French Foreign Minister’s statements about respecting Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity are disingenuous, because their ambassador never visited the city of Shusha. Nor do they state explicitly that the territory where Karabakh Armenians live is the territory of Azerbaijan. Of course, this affects the relationship between France and Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan’s diplomacy is built on separating bilateral relations from the actions of those countries with regard to Armenia, and trying to act with a long-term perspective. I do not believe at all that Azerbaijan-France relations can be normalized before the end of Macron’s presidency. Thus, the existing tensions will persist, but there will be also some parallel interaction.
Translated from Minval.az