Resolution of the French Senate: political or moral support for Armenia?
French Senate resolution
“To provide for diplomatic and economic measures to punish the aggression by Azerbaijan, including the application of sanctions against assets of the Azerbaijani authorities, and a plan to impose an embargo on the import of gas and oil from Azerbaijan,” reads a French Senate resolution in support of Armenia adopted last night.
The proposal of the Senate is addressed to the French government, which must make the final decision on the application of this and all other provisions of the resolution.
Political scientist Armen Baghdasaryan suggests that the resolution will most likely remain on paper and the French government will not take active steps. In addition, he does not exclude negative consequences, for example an attempt by Baku to push France out of the mediation mission, arguing that it is not a “neutral side”.
The authors of the document are the same group of senators who, in 2020, after the 44-day war, submitted a resolution on the need to recognize the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh. It was also adopted almost unanimously — with one vote against, so the French government refused to recognize the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh. Only Senator Natalie Goulet voted against, openly speaking in the interests of Azerbaijan.
During the discussions of the 2020 document, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of France stated that the unilateral recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh by France would not benefit anyone — neither Armenia, the people of Karabakh, nor Europe. When discussing the latest resolution, French Foreign Ministry spokesman Olivier Becht did not raise any objections.
What the resolution of the French Senate says, reaction from Yerevan and Stepanakert, and commentary.
“No country does more to support Armenia”
Late in the evening of November 15, the French Senate almost unanimously adopted a resolution in support of Armenia, with 295 senators voting in favor and one against.
Resolution of the French Senate
- demands the withdrawal of the armed forces of Azerbaijan from the sovereign territory of Armenia and respect for its territorial integrity and sovereignty,
- invited the French government, in cooperation with European partners, to plan diplomatic and economic countermeasures to punish the aggression by Azerbaijan, including the imposition of sanctions that will target the assets of the Azerbaijani authorities, and an embargo on gas and oil imports from Azerbaijan,
- invites the Government of France to consider the possibility of supporting the strengthening of the defense capability of Armenia,
- take initiatives to guarantee the security of the Armenian population and Armenia within its internationally recognized borders, and to request for this purpose the deployment of an international community engagement force,
- to carry out decisive work so that the UN Security Council appeals to the International Criminal Court over the actions of Azerbaijan against the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia, including to investigate the war crimes of Azerbaijan,
- calls for the release of all Armenian prisoners of war and their return to their homeland from Azerbaijan, which continues to hold them after the end of hostilities,
- confirms the need to recognize the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and invites the government to consider the possibility of establishing a humanitarian office in Nagorno-Karabakh,
- calls on the French government to do everything possible to ensure that Azerbaijan immediately joins the process of negotiations through diplomatic channels in order to achieve a lasting peace in the South Caucasus.”
The resolution is advisory in nature. The final decision on all provisions must be taken by the French government. The decision of the Senate has legal force, since it is the decision of legally elected people’s representatives, but is not legally binding.
“No country in the world does more to support Armenia than France,” French Foreign Ministry spokesman Olivier Becht said in the Senate.
He represented the government at the hearings and did not object to the adoption of the resolution. He did not speak of whether the government would accept the resolution of the Senate as a whole and, in particular, on the issue of imposing sanctions against Azerbaijan. However, in his speech Becht accused Russia, which is Armenia’s strategic ally, of failing to fulfill its obligations in the region.
Yerevan and Stepanakert welcome the resolution of the French Senate
Speaker of the Armenian Parliament Alain Simonyan commented on the resolution adopted by the French Senate on Twitter.
“The Senate of friendly France, one of the cradles of democracy, adopted a resolution supporting Armenia and proposing sanctions on Azerbaijan. Thanks to our colleagues for serving justice.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the unrecognized NKR also expressed gratitude to “our French friends for taking an unambiguous and principled position”:
“The document confirms the need to recognize the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and use this recognition as a negotiating tool to establish a lasting peace. The resolution emphasizes that the repeated aggressive actions of Azerbaijan against Nagorno-Karabakh threaten the security and freedom of Artsakh Armenians.”
According to political scientist Armen Baghdasaryan, the resolution is rather moral support for Armenia.
“If the French government approves it, then it will be very serious, weighty political support. The problem is that the probability of this is close to zero,” he told JAMnews.
Baghdasaryan believes that the resolution will remain on paper, as was the case with the document drawn up by the same group of senators in 2020.
He is confident that the French government will not take active steps, in particular regarding the provisions relating to Nagorno-Karabakh. He expects that there will be “very tough resistance” from Azerbaijan.
“Azerbaijan will also try to use this resolution of the Senate to push France out of the mediation mission, to neutralize its role on the grounds that Paris is not a neutral side, it has taken a pro-Armenian position,” Baghdasaryan said.
According to Baghdasaryan, France and the European Union are “strategically” more allies of Turkey and Azerbaijan than Armenia. Therefore he considers sanctions on Azerbaijan unrealistic:
“France is a member of the EU, it does not have the right to separately impose any sanctions. Even if in some situations or conditions it has such a right, it still won’t do it. As an economic and political entity, France is part of the European Union, and the EU has certain expectations from Azerbaijan, primarily related to energy.”
Baghdasaryan believes that Armenia can use the resolution of the French Senate and the position of Paris to help extend the term of the EU monitoring mission located on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and expand its composition and powers:
“I see an opportunity in this matter. Yes, France can work in this direction. Since this mission is located in Armenia and not in Azerbaijan, the latter’s consent is not required. This will be an effective step, observers have a deterrent role.”
Resolution of the French Senate