French ambassador to Azerbaijan was summoned on Wednesday to the Foreign Ministry and submitted a note of protest appealing to the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France.
In a meeting with Ambassador Anne Bouillon, Azerbaijani officials voiced Baku’s deep concern over the continuation and expansion of the smear campaign against Azerbaijan by various political forces of France amidst inaction and lack of response from the French government.
Azerbaijani officials described the unfounded anti-Azerbaijan accusations and statements made in a recent letter to the French President, which was drafted on behalf of political leaders represented in the French Parliament, as unacceptable. The letter included statements undermining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.
Baku is convinced that the letter is a continuation of a purposeful and systematic anti-Azerbaijani campaign, which includes the French Parliament's adoption of biased resolutions against Azerbaijan. The ministry urged Ambassador Boillon to ask the French government to take measures to immediately stop the smear campaign against Azerbaijan.
On December 27, French politicians appealed to French President Emmanuel Macron to “protect Armenia” and impose sanctions on Azerbaijan. Baku is allegedly accused of the instability and tensions in the South Caucasus, including the current situation on the Lachin road. The open letter was published in Le Monde newspaper.
The letter by pro-Armenian French parliament members to President Macron has not recieved any response from the government despite it reflecting an open threat to the other country's sovereign rights. It added to the series of previous anti-Azerbaijan documents, including a resolution adopted both by the Senate and the House in November.
Back then, the Senate called for all-out support by France for Armenia and the Armenian separatists in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. The document referred to the hostilities on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan in September of this year as “aggression” against Armenia, whereas the hostilities were the outcome of the next armed provocation by the Armenian military against Azerbaijan. The hostilities on the border on September 10 saw deaths on both sides, including 80 servicemen from Azerbaijan when the latter’s forces took retaliatory measures to push back the Armenian offensive.
In the meantime, the recent letter of the parliamentarians focuses also the current situation on the Lachin road involving ecological activists, civil society members, and volunteers from Azerbaijan, who have been staging protests to demand ending illegal exploitation of mineral resources in Azerbaijan’s Karabakh economic region.
The signatories of the letter accuse the Azerbaijani side of allegedly blocking the road eventually cutting the connection between Armenia and Armenians living in certain parts of the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. However, the video footage from the road shows that it is open for humanitarian transport, including supply vehicles for the temporary Russian peacekeeping mission and ambulances of the International Red Cross Committee.
The vehicles use the road almost on a daily basis. On Thursday, a convoy of peacekeepers was seen moving along the road. Since early this week, more than 30 supply vehicles of the peacekeepers used the Lachin road for humanitarian purposes safely and freely. An Armenian child was also transferred from a hospital in the Karabakh region to Armenia through the highway.
Since December 3, 2022, a group of experts from Azerbaijan’s Economy Ministry and Ecology and Natural Resources Ministry, and the State Property Service under the Ministry of Economy and AzerGold Company, held negotiations with the command of the peacekeeping contingent on the illegal exploitation of mineral deposits, as well as on environmental and other secondary consequences in the Azerbaijani territories under its temporary monitoring. As a result of consecutive meetings on December 3 and 4, the two sides agreed to ecological monitoring by the Azerbaijani experts at the Gizilbulag gold and Demirli copper-molybdenum deposits.
However, on December 10, the visit of the representatives of Azerbaijan to the deposits was derailed in the wake of illegal intervention by ethnic Armenians living in certain parts of Azerbaijan's Karabakh region. Back then, the Russian peacekeepers did not take preventive measures to facilitate the previously agreed visit of the Azerbaijani experts.
The incident led civil society members and volunteers to protest along Lachin road on December 12.