It was recently reported that the French state has met with a group of Armenian separatists led by Arayik Arutyunyan, who is visiting France for two days. The Armenian separatists reportedly met with the heads of parliamentary groups in the French Senate and representatives of all factions of France’s National Assembly. At the meetings, anti-Azerbaijani statements were issued and the Karabakh conflict was discussed.
Arutyunyun praised France for the resolution adopted in the French Senate against Azerbaijan. At the meeting, they discussed turning those resolutions into a reality and called for Artsakh, the breakaway Armenian separatist entity that controls an area in violation of four UN Security Council Resolutions, to be recognized as independent. He said: “We want the Lachin Corridor, which connects Karabakh with Armenia, to have additional international guarantees.”
Despite being one of the co-chairs of the Minsk Group established for the settlement of the Karabakh conflict, France violated its neutrality by pursuing a pro-Armenian policy even when the format was still in force. France’s policy of supporting Armenia went further during the rule of the head of the Fifth Republic, Emmanuel Macron. The biased position of the French leader has a negative impact on the relations of the state he manages with Azerbaijan and Turkey, as well as with several Western countries.
Even though Armenia has been occupying Azerbaijani lands for the past 30 years in violation of international law, Macron blamed Azerbaijan for the 44-day Second Karabakh War.
Azerbaijani activist Gunel Safarova added, “In a recent interview, Macron said that the situation concerning Nagorno-Karabakh is under discussion. He did not state the statements he made during the 44-day war, when he said he could not do anything as these lands were recognized as part of Azerbaijan.”
“His team has the influence of the Armenian lobby,” she said. “What we see during the last months following the resolutions that were passed, the reaction of the French public is, why are we not concerned with our own problems first? These resolutions do not have judicial or political influence. They do not influence the French government. The French government still recognizes the internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan and these resolutions do not represent the French government. But some statements coming from the French President are ambiguous and do not respect the position of the French government.”
Dr. Anar Valiyev, Dean at the prestigious Ada University, noted: “I think the main reason for the French to be pro-Armenian is coming from the notion of the big Armenian Diaspora that lives in France. For them, it does not matter what kind of president you are. They always need to satisfy the Armenian Diaspora in order to win the elections. That is why any French President will be pro-Armenian. It is because of internal politics.”
Nevertheless, such statements have increased Armenia’s self-confidence and caused the negotiation process to be repeatedly violated by Armenia for no reason, slowing down the arrival of peace in the region. When the Minsk Group was created, the main goal was to return the occupied Karabakh region and the seven adjacent regions to Azerbaijan, and to ensure the return of Azerbaijani refugees and internally displaced persons to their lands. However, during the decades of its operation, it not only not ended the conflict, but also created conditions for the continuation of the conflict.
One of the main reasons for this was the fact that the co-chair countries of the group, more precisely, the USA, Russia and France, had strong Armenian influence within their borders. This hindered the peace process.
Azerbaijan not only liberated its lands during the Second Karabakh War in 2020, but also showed that neither the Minsk Group nor other mediation policies are working. Perhaps, if it were not for the Minsk Group, Azerbaijan would have liberated its lands a long time ago.
Any state that tries to mediate after violating its neutrality and taking a certain position causes the process to reach a dead end again. The current policy of France and Emmanuel Macron, and their attempt to mediate, will lead to a negative change in the new geopolitical situation that has arisen.
Rachel Avraham is a political analyst working at the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy, Research, Public Relations and Human Rights. She is the author of “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings at the American, Israeli and Arab Media.”