Azerbaijan accuses Macron of sabotaging peace talks with Armenia
Azerbaijan has blamed Emmanuel Macron for sabotaging potential peace talks with Armenia following its lightning offenciv in Nagorno-Karbakh.
Baku’s ambassador to the UK said his country would return to the EU-mediated talks, the latest round of which had been due to take place on Thursday, as long as France and Germany are removed as brokers.
Elin Suleymanov told The Telegraph that Ilham Aliyev, the president of Azerbaijan, would be prepared to meet Nikol Pashinyan, the Armenian prime minister, if talks were chaired by Charles Michel, the European Council president, but not Mr Macron.
Mr Suleymanov also denied that Baku harbours plans to invade Armenia after its capture of Nagorno-Karabakh last month.
“Unfortunately the French self-insertion of itself into the conversation has caused not a collapse, but certainly a hiccup,” Mr Suleymanov said.
“The question is who are we talking to? The French of course I think in a way are projecting their own failures elsewhere.”
“They keep talking about protection of the sovereignty of Armenia, but we don’t have any claim against it. If the goal is to have [Armenian prime minister Nikol] Pashinyan and Aliyev talk to one another, the French have done everything to undermine it.”
His remarks came as Mr Macron denounced Azerbaijan for taking military action in the separatist Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, insisting that the French government’s position was correct even if Baku considered it biased in Armenia’s favour.
“France has no problem with Azerbaijan but Azerbaijan seems to have a problem with international law,” Mr Macron said, but he added that EU sanctions against Azerbaijan would be counterproductive at this point.
Mr Aliyev and Mr Pashinyan had been due to meet at the European Union summit in Granada for the peace talks brokered by Mr Macron, Olaf Scholz, the German Chancellor, and Mr Michel.
The decision to boycott the talks came after Catherine Colonna, the French foreign minister, said during a visit to Armenia on Tuesday that France had “agreed on future contracts with Armenia which will allow the delivery of military equipment to Armenia so that it can ensure its defence”.
She added that “France will be vigilant regarding the territorial integrity of Armenia” and called on the EU to send a “clear signal” to anyone tempted to call it into question.
The remarks appear to have been a reference to Azerbaijani plans for a transport coddidor accross souther Armenia to its exclave of Nakhchivan, which in turn borders Turkey.
Azerbaijan officially says the idea is simply to allow freedom of movement in accordance with a previous agreement to lift a decades-old mutual blockade.
The Armenian government suspects it will be used as a pretext for a military land grab, pointing to Mr Aliyev’s habit of referring to the area as “Western Azerbaijan”.
Azerbaijan ‘only wants its territorial integrity
Mr Suleymanov forcefully denied any such ambitions, saying Azerbaijan was keen to sign a peace deal with Armenia including mutual recognition of one another’s territory.
“We have no territorial designs on anybody. We have no designs on any internationally recognised territory,” he said. “All we wanted was our territorial integrity.”
Mr Pashinyan, who went ahead with the meeting with Mr Scholz and Mr Macron, expressed regret that he wouldn’t meet Mr Aliyev for the chance to sign a “turning point document”.
The European Parliament on Thursday overwhelmingly approved a resolution condemning Azerbaijan for a “pre-planned and unjustified attack” and a “gross violation of human rights and international law” and demanding EU member states impose sanctions on Azerbaijani officials.
“The current situation amounts to ethnic cleansing,” the resolution said, adding it “strongly condemns the threats and acts of violence committed by Azerbaijani troops against the population of Nagorno-Karabakh”.
Mr Suleymanov acknowledged that refugees would have been frightened by the conflict, but denied ethnic cleansing and repeated the Azerbaijani government’s claims that it actually wanted them to stay and “reintegrate” into Azerbaijan.