The government of France has initiated the delivery of arms to Armenia, activating the terms of the cooperation contracts signed last month.
In footage aired on Sunday, numerous French-made “Bastion” multi-purpose armored personnel carriers and components of the French “ARQUUS” brand for “Bastion” were observed being unloaded at the Black Sea coastal Poti port in Georgia.
The shipment reportedly included 21+ “Bastion” vehicles out of the 24 carriers allocated by the French military. These vehicles and accompanying components are expected to travel from Poti to the Georgia-Armenia border, where they will be transferred to the Armenian side.
The French military supplies to Armenia come in the wake of the signing of contracts “for expanding bilateral cooperation” last month. In early October, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna announced that Paris had agreed to future contracts for delivering military hardware to Yerevan. On October 23, Armenia’s Defense Minister Suren Papikyan and his French counterpart Sébastien Lecornu signed the contracts in Paris.
Lecornu stated that France would also provide training for Armenian officers to operate the military equipment and assist in the ongoing reforms of the Armenian armed forces. He claimed that the weapons destined for Armenia were of a defensive nature, intended to help Armenia ensure self-defense and protect its population.
According to Lecornu, Armenia would also purchase “Mistral” short-range surface-to-air missiles and three radar systems from France. Meanwhile, 50 units of “VAB MK3” medium-weight combat-proven armored vehicles could also be part of the existing contracts, according to reports.
Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan expressed concern, stating that the transfer of the mentioned military equipment would strengthen the military capabilities and, consequently, the destructive actions of Armenia, recalling the 30 years of Armenian occupation of Azerbaijani lands.
“These steps by France, which presents itself as an advocate of international law and a country supporting peace and stability in the region, puts under serious question the efforts for normalization of relations based on the respect for and recognition of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and international borders of countries in the region, thus serving to destabilization of the situation,” the ministry said in a statement on Monday.
The ministry called on Armenia and France to end their policy of armament and militarization, urging them to finally understand that there is no alternative to peace and stability in the region.
A recent opinion poll conducted on November 1-4 by MPG, the representative of the GALLUP International Association in Armenia, found that 41.1% of 1,100 respondents view France as the top military and political ally of Armenia, while 14.4% (down from 30% in January) think the same about Russia, and 18.7%, instead of the previous 40.1%, opt for closer military and political cooperation with Iran.