France to provide military equipment to Armenia. Unexpected statement in Yerevan
France to provide Armenia with military equipment
“France has agreed to sign a treaty with Armenia. It will provide Armenia with military equipment so that the country can ensure its defense. But I cannot give other details yet,” French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said in Yerevan.
She arrived in Armenia the yesterday and immediately met with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan.
The Foreign Ministers spoke at a joint press conference, during which the statement on the provision of arms to Armenia was made. The journalists asked whether the termination of Armenia’s cooperation with Russia’s CSTO military bloc was an important precondition for France to receive the arms. To which Ararat Mirzoyan replied, “Our partners have never made such a demand, they have never even raised such a question.”
Armenian analysts believe that France will not refuse to supply some weapons, but will be cautious, as it knows that “this is a complicated game in which Turkey is also involved.” They also do not rule out that Paris’ statements could have “the effect of accelerating the explosives – regardless of the will and desire of the French authorities.”
Strict reaction to actions threatening the territorial integrity of Armenia
Catherine Colonna announced that France is very attentive to threats to Armenia’s territorial integrity. And Paris believes that the EU and its members also need to send the same clear signals as France does:
“Any action that threatens the territorial integrity of the Republic of Armenia will receive a very clear and tough response. I hope we will be able to count on other partners on this issue as well, particularly the United States.”
Colonna recalled the meeting held in Prague a year ago. According to her, the recognition by Armenia and Azerbaijan of each other’s territorial integrity in accordance with the Alma-Ata Declaration was “an important progress that needs to be maintained and moved forward”.
“Trying to create conditions for a resolution on the NK issue at the UN”
The French Foreign Minister said that work continues for the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution on Nagorno-Karabakh.
“Our position is unchanged and we can unite around it and other members of the UN Security Council. We are trying to create conditions for the adoption of a draft resolution according to which those Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh who want could return to their homes.”
“This lie won’t mislead anyone”
“I feel the need to state this again because we hear statements that people have voluntarily left their homes. This is not true,” Colonna said on the resettlement of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia.
In her opinion, it is important to make a clear assessment of the fait accompli:
“I don’t want to give legal qualification to the crimes, but I say that they are crimes.”
However, Armenian journalists noticed that the Minister avoided using the terms “ethnic cleansing” and “forced displacement”, which are used by the Armenian authorities.
At the same time, she emphasized that France has always supported Armenians and in connection with “this terrible humanitarian catastrophe” also sent 12.5 million euros to Armenia to provide decent conditions for the Karabakh residents. Assured that this assistance will not stop.
“We have been by the side of Armenians at the UN and everywhere, as well as in all contacts between Armenia and Azerbaijan at the highest level. We were next to Armenia also during the establishment of the observation mission within the European Union.”
The French Foreign Minister said that she addressed the EU Head of Diplomacy Josep Borrell with a proposal to expand the EU observer mission on Armenia’s border and strengthen its mandate.
Tigran Yekavyan, an analyst and lecturer at the Schiller International University in Paris, believes that there is a “security vacuum” in the South Caucasus, which is obvious to French diplomacy. He says that because of the Ukrainian war, Russia is not only vulnerable but also “more dangerous” to Armenia’s security and sovereignty.
“It has been obvious for three years now that Russia’s CSTO military bloc has abandoned Armenia, and the Armenian authorities are desperately trying to get some kind of help from Europe, particularly France,” he said.
He believes that Armenia’s defense capability will be ensured not so much by arms supplies as by building a “new security architecture.”
“Yes, France will not refuse to supply some weapons – of course, as a last resort. But it will be very cautious, because Paris understands very well that this is a complicated game, in which Turkey is involved.”
According to him, France has two concerns. The first is that Russia could overthrow the current Armenian government and install new pro-Russian authorities, which poses “a threat to Armenia’s internal stability.” The second fear is the external threat from Turkey and Azerbaijan.
In addition, according to Yekavyan, France should find common ground with Iran, which is interested in Armenia’s security based on its own strategic interests.
According to the analyst, Armenia can build mutually beneficial relations with France.
“I see Armenia also as a bridge between France and India. France is interested in the Indian market. We also know that the strategic interests of Armenia and India coincide.”
Political observer Hakob Badalyan welcomes France’s readiness to provide military equipment and Paris’ vigilance towards Armenia’s territorial integrity. But expects practical steps as well.
“Risks and challenges that are accumulating in the region, including due to global realities, make the unit of measurement of threats to destabilize the situation, if not hours and days, at least weeks,” he believes.
In this regard, he is not sure that it will be possible to solve the issues facing Armenia now, taking into account the possible terms of French arms deliveries:
“Armenia and France have neither a direct land border nor a sea border. And deliveries through the territory of Georgia and Iran are subject to rather multilayered geopolitics with all the ensuing consequences.”
According to Badalyan, Paris’ statements may have another effect, namely “accelerating the work of explosives.”
He emphasizes that France has always supported Armenia, but “this has not prevented Azerbaijan from achieving its goals.”
“Moreover, during the Prague meeting, held at the initiative of France, Azerbaijan achieved one of its main goals: agreement on Armenia’s recognition of Artsakh as part of Azerbaijan, without making a full-fledged reciprocal statement.”
The analyst wonders why, before the meeting in Granada between Pashinyan, Scholz, Macron, Michel and Aliyev, scheduled for October 5, Paris felt it necessary to make statements “caressing the ear” and encouraging Armenian society?
“It is hard to believe or imagine that this is being done on the eve of “twisting Baku’s ear” [calling for accountability] in Granada. Especially since a month ago French economic giant Total energies has already ‘ennobled Aliyev’s ears’ by discussing new investment programs”.
Prior to the publication of this piece, there was information that the Azerbaijani President will not go to the five-sided meeting in Granada. According to Azerbaijani media, the reason is the pro-Armenian position of Paris.
France to provide Armenia with military equipment