Armenia says it would only take part in the meeting if French President Emmanuel Macron is also in attendance, an insistence Azerbaijan calls an attempt to disrupt peace talks.
A planned peace meeting between Azerbaijan and Armenia next month has been called off over Yerevan’s insistence on involving France.
The planned December 7 meeting with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in Brussels will not be held, Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev said on Friday during a conference in the capital Baku.
According to Aliyev, Pashinyan had said that Armenia would only take part in the meeting if French President Emmanuel Macron also takes part in the talks, an insistence the Azerbaijani president called “an attempt to disrupt the peace talks”.
Aliyev said that Hikmet Hajiyev, his assistant and foreign policy chief, told him on Thursday that they had a call from the office of European Council President Charles Michel conveying Pashinyan’s request for Macron to be involved in the meeting.
Aliyev said that just a week before the meeting in Prague, Macron criticised Azerbaijan in an interview, accusing it “of things we didn’t commit”. “Later, the completely unacceptable and insulting bill in the French senate was passed,” he said, adding that the French National Assembly is expected to “adopt another anti-Azerbaijani bill”.
'Paris’ involvement in the talks impossible'
Last week, Azerbaijan rebuffed a French senate resolution calling for sanctions against Baku and its withdrawal from territory liberated from Armenian occupation in 2020. “Then there was the French attempt to attack us through the Francophonie Summit (in Tunisia). This is unacceptable because Francophonie is a humanitarian organisation,” Aliyev said.
Azerbaijani officials had walked out of the francophone country summit over “distorted, provocative statements” against Baku in a draft of the summit’s declaration.
Saying that a preliminary version of the French bill, “prepared jointly by France and Armenia is full of accusations and fabrications”, Aliyev said this clear bias makes Paris’ involvement in the talks impossible.
“This is their fault, not ours. Because neither the US nor Russia have ever been an official party (to the conflict),” he said.
Aliyev said that Yerevan’s request for French participation at the talks “means that the December 7 meeting will not take place” and that Baku will consider “other alternatives”. “Let’s see who will take the role of mediator and on what platform it will take place,” he added.
Relations between the two former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Karabakh, a territory internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan.
In fall 2020, after 44 days of intense clashes, Baku liberated several cities, villages and settlements from Armenian occupation, which ended with a Moscow-brokered truce.