Azerbaijan says France cannot be part of peace talks with Armenia
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said on Friday that Baku does not want France to play a role in brokering peace talks between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Aliyev said French President Emmanuel Macron had "attacked" and "insulted" Baku and should not act as a go-between for the two countries.
Aliyev said French President Emmanuel Macron had "attacked" and "insulted" Baku and should not act as a go-between for the two countries. Fighting flared in September between the two former ex-Soviet countries in their decades-old dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave - internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan, but largely controlled by ethnic Armenians, with backing from Yerevan.
Each side accused the other of triggering the latest bout of fighting, in which Armenia said Azerbaijan had seized settlements inside its borders. A ceasefire was agreed in late September and last month in Prague the two countries agreed to allow a civilian EU mission to be set up on their border.
But speaking on Friday, Aliyev accused Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan of trying to undercut the next stage of talks by insisting France must be a broker. "Macron ... attacked Azerbaijan and accused us in what we haven't done," Aliyev said, speaking in English at a conference with international representatives in Baku on Friday.
He said the French leader had adopted an "anti-Azerbaijan position" and was "insulting" Baku. "It is clear that under these circumstances, with this attitude, France cannot be part of the peace process between Azerbaijan and Armenia."
Aliyev added that the next meeting with Pashinyan - scheduled for Dec. 7 in Brussels - had been scrapped due to Armenia's demand that Macron take part as a mediator. Macron has accused Russia of stoking tensions between Baku and Yerevan, and has also affirmed his support for Armenia's sovereignty in phone calls with Pashinyan.
Asked about Aliyev's comments, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday that Moscow - which deployed 5,000 peacekeepers to the region in 2020 to manage a ceasefire after a six-week war - was ready to help broker further agreements, but that there was no concrete plan for the leaders to meet in Moscow. Russia is a formal ally of Armenia but also seeks to maintain good relations with Baku, and resisted calls to deploy forces to help Yerevan under a mutual defence pact after fighting broke out in September.
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