Ilham Aliyev: "France cannot take part in the peace process"
Aliyev on French participation in negotiations
The President of Azerbaijan stated that the meeting scheduled for December 7 with the Prime Minister of Armenia through the mediation of the European Union will not take place. Aliyev cited Pashinyan’s demand for the presence of French President Emmanuel Macron at the meeting as the reason. “France cannot take part in the peace process. And this is not ours, but their fault, since neither the United States nor Russia has ever officially taken sides,” Aliyev said.
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On November 25 an international conference was held at ADA University in Baku on the topic “Along the Middle Corridor: Geopolitics, Security and Economics”. Speaking at the opening of the conference, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev answered questions from foreign guests of the event.
About the Zangezur corridor
“We discussed the Zangezur corridor during my last conversation with Russian officials. I do not think that Armenia is capable of blocking this corridor.
As for Iran, I think that it will not do this either, given its interest in regional transport projects,” Aliyev said.
According to him, these projects are not directed against anyone, but on the contrary only for the benefit of all interested parties.
Meeting in Brussels will not take place
“The meeting with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in Brussels scheduled for December 7 will not take place,” Aliyev said.
“Yesterday, Hikmet Hajiyev informed me that he was contacted by the office of Charles Michel and informed that Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan agreed to the meeting only if French President Macron participated therein. This means that this meeting will not take place.”
“France cannot take part in the peace process”
Aliyev explained why the participation of France in the peace process is contrary to the interests of Azerbaijan:
“Less than a week after the meeting in Prague, French President Macron criticized Azerbaijan in an interview and accused us of something we did not do.
This was followed by a resolution of the French Senate which is absolutely unacceptable and offensive. This was followed by another anti-Azerbaijani resolution of the National Assembly of France, and then an attempt by France to attack us at the Francophonie summit. This is unacceptable, as the Francophonie is a humanitarian organization.”
Ilham Aliyev said that Azerbaijan side has “the original text drawn up by France with Armenia”, which, according to him, is full of accusations and insinuations:
“But we have friends not only in the Non-Aligned Movement, but also in Europe. Thus, this anti-Azerbaijani resolution is something formal.
Given all this, it is clear that France cannot take part in the peace process. And this is not ours, but their fault, since neither the United States nor Russia has ever officially taken sides. This means that the meeting on December 7 will not take place. And we will consider other alternatives. We will see who will act as an intermediary and on what platform.”
Aliyev added that he considers Pashinyan’s condition for Macron’s participation in the Brussels meeting “as an attempt to disrupt the peace talks.”
On relations with Iran
Referring to tense relations between Baku and Tehran recently, the President of Azerbaijan noted that “Iran has never conducted military exercises twice within several months at our borders.”
“I have worked with three former presidents of Iran — Khatami, Ahmadinejad and Rouhani. For many years, there has never been a situation similar to that of today. Never before have so many statements full of hatred and threats against Azerbaijan been made,” he said.
Aliyev stated that Azerbaijan was forced to start military exercises on the border with Iran “to demonstrate that we are not afraid of them”:
“We will do our best to protect our way of life, the secular development of Azerbaijan and Azerbaijanis, including Azerbaijanis living in Iran. They are part of our nation,” Aliyev maintained.
Aliyev also touched upon the issue of the rights of Azerbaijanis living in Iran:
“There are 340 schools in Azerbaijan where teaching is conducted in Russian. There are also 10 schools teaching in Georgian in the republic. There are 116 Azerbaijani language schools in Georgia.
There are schools in Iran where teaching is in Armenian, but there are no schools where lessons are taught in Azerbaijani. How can this be?
If someone says that this is interference in internal affairs, then we absolutely deny such statements. The foreign policy of Azerbaijan is crystal clear – we have never interfered and do not interfere in the internal affairs of any state.”
According to him, Azerbaijan raises the issue of teaching in the Azerbaijani language in Iranian schools because “otherwise, the Azerbaijanis of Iran, who speak their native language, lose the literary component of the language, the Azerbaijani language remains only at the level of everyday life.”
Aliyev on French participation in negotiations