“We have chosen the path of active mediation” – French National Assembly Speaker in Yerevan
Speaker of the French Parliament in Yerevan
“As long as the path to peace and dialogue is not closed, it is not advisable to apply other measures,” the Speaker of the French parliament said in answer to Armenian journalists’ questions about whether Paris would impose sanctions on Azerbaijan.
During a joint press conference with the Speaker of the National Assembly of Armenia, Yael Braun-Pivé stated that she is not the prime minister or president and cannot answer questions about providing military assistance to Armenia. She also did not answer which country or countries did not allow the UN Security Council to adopt a statement following discussion of the Lachin corridor blockade.
The French delegation arrived in Yerevan on January 12 at the invitation of the Speaker of the National Assembly of Armenia. According to the French Embassy in Armenia, the purpose of the visit is to demonstrate solidarity.
On the morning of January 13, the speakers of the Armenian and French parliaments had a private conversation and an extended meeting. They then signed an inter-parliamentary agreement on strengthening ties and expanding the range of further cooperation.
Yael Braun-Pivé: “We will do everything to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe”
Answering questions about the blockade, Braun-Pivé said that her country would do “everything to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe.” France, she said, is concerned about the blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh and the deepening humanitarian crisis.
“It is very important that the road be opened, that free movement between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh be restored, as well as electricity and Internet communications,” she stressed.
According to Braun-Pivé, “the growing tension makes Armenia vulnerable.” But France has always been and remains close to “Armenia in order to strengthen its sovereignty and independence”:
“Now, when the principles of international law are being violated in Ukraine, when the democratic values of Europe are under threat, we reaffirm that all these values should be our beacon. France expresses its solidarity with Armenia.”
The journalists were interested in whether it is possible for France to recognize the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh.
“France does not recognize the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh, and this is in accordance with international law, to which we are beholden,” Braun-Pivé replied.
She stated that in order to achieve a peaceful and lasting solution, it is necessary to restore dialogue between the two countries. In this regard, Braun-Pivé mentioned the OSCE Minsk Group, which mediated the peace talks before the 2020 Karabakh war. Braun-Pivé believes that this is “one of the most important platforms” for dialogue with Azerbaijan, although not the only one, and “every means should be used to de-escalate the situation as soon as possible.”
Alen Simonyan: “We need France as a mediator”
The speaker of the Armenian Parliament said during a joint press conference that Armenia needs France “as a mediator, not as a party [to the conflict].” He assured journalists that Paris is doing everything “to bring peace to the region, to protect the interests of Armenia and the Armenian people.”
Alen Simonyan also touched upon the further activities of the OSCE Minsk Group. According to him, the United States, France and Russia, which are the co-chairs of this format, have made statements about their readiness to discuss further activities. At the same time, he, like Yael Brown-Pivé, noted that there are other equally important platforms where Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiations can take place. In particular, he recalled the meeting in Prague, where the Pashinyan-Aliyev talks were held through the mediation of the head of the European Council and the President of France.
Political scientist Areg Kochinyan believes that one should not expect “any significant achievements” following the visit:
“The essence of the visit is political assistance, it is rather symbolic, it shows that France continues to support Armenia in this very difficult situation and stands up for the protection of the rights of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh.”
Kochinyan also commented on the significance of the resolutions adopted by the French Senate and the Lower House of the French Parliament in November last year.
The resolutions supported Armenia and called for the immediate release of Armenian prisoners of war still being held in Baku. The legislators suggested that the French government also consider “the possibility of applying personal economic sanctions” in the event that Azerbaijan continues “military invasion and occupation of the sovereign territory of Armenia.”
“The resolutions created opportunities for Armenia to both develop Armenian-French relations, raise them to a qualitatively new level, and work both with France and other European countries to influence the military-political situation. But Armenia did not take advantage of these opportunities,” Kochinyan maintained.
He believes that there is the possibility of cooperation with France in the military-technical sphere, but for this the “security architecture” must be altered:
“Until this architecture changes, any military-political cooperation with the West has a ceiling, and this ceiling is the CSTO.”
The Collective Security Treaty Organization is a military bloc operating under the leadership of Russia, including Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Many Armenian experts believe that the CSTO is not fulfilling its obligations towards Armenia and the protection of its sovereign territory, and so must be abandoned in order to establish closer ties with the West.
Speaker of the French Parliament in Yerevan