Today.Az » Politics » By siding with Armenia, France has finally lost its chance to mediate - OVERVIEW by Parvin Mirzazade
09 December 2022 [15:46] - Today.Az
By Parvin Mirzazade
As expected, the French Senate and Chamber of Deputies almost unanimously passed a one-sided, biased anti-Azerbaijani resolution that definitively buried any French mediation on a possible peace settlement.
French parliamentarians, who 'pride themselves' on their objectivity and incorruptibility, almost all (with the exception of Senator Natalie Goulet) chose Armenian brandy diplomacy over neutrality and international law. These 'servants of the French people', so to speak, instead of dealing with the problems of their own country, which is drowning in racism and xenophobia, preferred to deal with the problems not of France but of the South Caucasus region, which is far away from them and in which they have absolutely nothing to mitigate.
After taking a closer look at this piece of paper, which has a direct destination in a known lavatory, we can safely say that the French parliamentarians understand nothing about international relations or international law, since, succumbing to collective psychosis and having fallen for the generous donations of the Armenian diaspora, they adopted an illiterate document that contradicts the French constitution.
The resolutions state that both houses of parliament demand that the French government immediately recognise the independence of a geographically unknown "Artsakh", condemn the Azerbaijani "invasion" of Armenia (whose borders are uncertain), demand respect for the ceasefire under the Trilateral Statement of 10 November 2020, propose sanctions against Azerbaijan and provide military assistance to the new ally.
The resolutions themselves are the epitome of pharisaism and double standards, which the French parliamentarians shine, sticking their noses into other people's business and going to extremes for the sake of their 30 pieces of silver money. Of course, Azerbaijan does not care about resolutions of French MPs, who for nothing are just content to compete in Turkophobia and Islamophobia. However, with this the French parliament has finally put an end to any possible mediation by France in a peace settlement, as under international law a mediator must be neutral and impartial.
The fact that France has always been partial to the so-called "Armenian question" has long been known. It is not uninteresting to dwell on some historical facts, as history is usually cyclical. As early as the mid-19th century, France and some other European powers instigated the problem of protecting the rights of "Eastern Christians" in order to break up the Ottoman Empire and increase their colonial possessions at the expense of its territories, as well as to oppose the growing ambitions of Russia in the Balkans and Asia Minor, which presented itself as the sole protector of the Slavs and Christians in that region.
It was this rivalry that led to several wars between Russia and the Ottoman Empire, with the European powers first egging Russia on and then, once hostilities had begun, intervening to take a chunk out of the Ottoman territory, on the pretext of "protecting the Eastern Christians", who by and large had no particular problems, but rather lived well off, unlike the Muslim population, who had to pay numerous taxes and serve in the army.
In order to destroy the Ottoman Empire from within, the major European states began to harp on the rights and security of the Christian population (mainly Armenians), who were promised independence under the protectorate of the great powers. Thus, in the mid-19th century, the so-called "Armenian question" emerged, which continues to be used against Turkey and Azerbaijan to this day. France has traditionally acted as the defender and protector of the Armenian people and has done its utmost to tear the Armenian-populated provinces away from the Ottoman Empire.
Thus in 1860, with the tacit support of France, there were uprisings of the Armenian population in the provinces of Van, Mush and Zeitoun, which were suppressed by the authorities and immediately provoked a negative reaction in France. Back then, during the Second Empire, Emperor Napoleon III proclaimed himself as the almost official defender of all Eastern Christians, including the Armenians. The main purpose of this "mission" was to expand the French colonial empire in the Middle East at the expense of Ottoman territory.
It should be noted that Armenians in the Ottoman Empire had no problems with the authorities and were mainly engaged in trade and crafts, generating considerable income. The Armenians who converted to Islam (but did not lose their national identity) were even high-ranking officials, holding high positions, up to and including minister. The so called "Armenian Question" was reemerged during the Versailles Peace Conference of 1918-1919, when the victorious states of the Entente bloc consolidated the results of World War I by sharing the heritage of the empires - Germany, Austria-Hungary, Ottoman Empire - that had lost and disappeared from the political map of the world.
It was then that France proposed the creation of an 'independent Armenia', from the Mediterranean Sea to the Black Sea, on the territory of the former Ottoman Empire, including significant areas of the former Russian Empire in the Caucasus. However, it did not succeed, as as a result of the victory of the national liberation war of the Turkish people, led by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the utopian ideas of a 'Great Armenia' were scattered to smithereens.
Realising that the Armenian project had been utterly defeated, the French authorities of the time were quick to change their ways, refusing to support the so-called ephemeral "Cilician Republic" and abandoning the "new-fangled" sisters to their fate.
The Armenian "revolutionaries" then left unattended found refuge in the French protectorates of Syria and Lebanon, which France inherited as a result of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, where they enjoyed the patronage of the French colonial authorities and consequently considerable influence in the political and economic life of those colonies, being a privileged class. For a long time, Armenian revolutionary parties that had found refuge in the French colonies in the Middle East took advantage of the French secret services and engaged in subversive activities against the USSR, viewing the Union as a 'prison of nations'.
After the end of World War II, the Soviet leadership established close links with the Armenian parties, promising that in the event of war with Turkey, part of the captured Turkish territories would be transferred to the Armenian SSR and the Armenian population that had left those territories as a result of the events of 1915 would be returned to them. To this end, in 1947-1948 the then Politburo member A. Mikoyan, who was always secretly sympathetic to the Dashnaks, organized a relocation of Armenians from the Middle East to the Armenian SSR to replace the Azerbaijanis deported to the Azerbaijan SSR. Alas, this project also failed because Turkey joined NATO and all the dreams of the Armenian "revolutionaries" remained unrealized.
Disillusioned with the Soviet Union, the leaders of global Armenianism found a new patron in France, which, after the collapse of its colonial empire, gave shelter to tens of thousands of Armenians from the Middle East, who quickly naturalized and acquired French citizenship and began to exert considerable influence on French domestic politics.
The collapse of the USSR and the emergence of new independent states on its territory in 1991 set the stage for France's return to the region of the South Caucasus, where Armenia was given the role of main friend and ally. Given that during the First Karabakh War, despite official French neutrality in the conflict, the influential Armenian diaspora in France provided considerable support to Armenia, even to the extent of sending fighters and weapons.
Officially, France did not intervene in the conflict and even voted for 4 UN Security Council resolutions in 1993, demanding the withdrawal of Armenian armed formations from Azerbaijani territory and the return of expelled refugees. At the Lisbon summit of the OSCE in 1996, France supported a statement by the OSCE Chairman-in-Office (which all member states of the organization except Armenia voted for) expressing support for the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and Armenia, as well as for ownership of the Karabakh region by Azerbaijan, and even became the third co-chair of the now defunct OSCE Minsk Group, which was then the main format for international mediation.
For nearly 24 years France pretended to be an impartial mediator, although secretly the French co-chairs always supported Armenia and in fact acted as pro bono lawyers for the Armenian side. The outbreak of the Second Karabakh War finally unmasked France, which stopped creating the appearance of neutrality and openly sided with Armenia.
Despite the fact that the Azerbaijani leadership did not complicate relations with France and tried to resolve the problems through diplomatic channels, suggesting a fresh start, the French leadership did not take this step of goodwill on the Azerbaijani side and continued to escalate tensions in bilateral relations.
Back in 2020, immediately after the end of the Second Karabakh War and the capitulation of Armenia, in violation of all international obligations and international law, both chambers of the French Parliament adopted a resolution demanding the recognition of the "Artsakh" separatists, which is an open encroachment on the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Azerbaijan.
Now the Parliament of France, again ignoring international law and all earlier documents voted by the French Republic (which is impossible in principle because the law is not retroactive), openly takes the side of Armenia and adopts an illiterate document which has no legal right. Without going into the details of the nonsense written there, we can say that the French parliamentarians simply did not understand that by making unfounded accusations against Azerbaijan and demanding recognition of the non-existent "Nagorno Karabakh" independence, they themselves drove the last nail into the coffin of the Minsk Group.
After this decision, any peace initiatives by France are no longer relevant for Azerbaijan, as such documents leave no chance for such an engaged Armenian mediator to be acceptable. The fact that this decision was supported by almost all French parliamentarians is evidence that they have become hostages of domestic political problems, which were successfully exploited by Armenian sponsors. It is no secret that President Macron's party, which did not receive enough votes in the elections to have a qualified majority, was forced into a coalition with the extreme right and left-wing parties to pass unpopular economic and social laws which would have a negative impact on the living standards of ordinary French people.
Unfortunately, the current leadership of France, having blatantly overturned the traditional ties of friendship and strategic cooperation that have characterised bilateral relations with Azerbaijan for almost 30 years, not only openly supports Armenia, but has also begun to act in tandem with it in various international arenas as a co-sponsor of numerous provocative anti-Azerbaijani ideas and resolutions.
An example of this was the Francophone Summit in Tunis on 18-20 November 2022, where, at the instigation of Armenia, which chaired the organisation, France tried to initiate the adoption of anti- Azerbaijani points in the final Declaration of the Summit, putting pressure on other states. Only the stubborn resistance of Azerbaijan's friends, Romania, Moldova, Albania, Morocco, Djibouti and some other countries, who pushed for a change in the text of the Declaration, prevented this act of injustice from taking place.
France has always regarded most members of the Francophone movement as its wards, since most of these countries were previously French colonies and protectorates. Not surprisingly, the current policy of implicit neo-colonialism pursued by the Elysée Palace is causing resentment and frustration with France among French-speaking African countries, which are tired of being a raw materials appendage, receiving only crumbs of humanitarian aid from the table. Consequently, many African countries (Mali, Guinea, Central African Republic, Burkina Faso and others) are not only gradually drifting away from France but are also cutting relations with the former metropolis off completely.
Naturally, this state of affairs does not suit the current French authorities, who need new areas of influence, markets and sources of raw materials. That is when France encountered Armenia, a country without any natural resources, but with great ambitions and an influential Armenian diaspora. The French president, Macron, turned a blind eye to the fact that Armenia is a member of the CSTO, which competes with NATO, and proclaimed himself the protector and patron of this state, imagining himself a kind of new Napoleon Bonaparte, who conquered almost all of Europe in the early 19th century and included some so-called "daughter" republics in his empire. However, the French leader coined a new term and proclaimed that from now on and for all time, France and Armenia are "sisters forever".
With this utterance, Macron brought tears of sympathy to another sister of Armenia-Canada, whose Prime Minister has long been an Armenian free lawyer for Armenia. On a visit to Armenia in November 2018, President Macron and his wife were so enamoured with love and sympathy for all things Armenian that, after a portion of dolma (whose name is clearly of Turkic origin), they danced heartily into the morning to the sounds of ancient Armenian (borrowed from Azerbaijani) melodies.
Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau has not taken off his socks painted in the colours of the Armenian flag, which he gave to his colleague N. Pashinyan during the Francophone Summit in Yerevan in November 2018. The French and Canadian leaders promised Armenia everything: full support in the conflict with Azerbaijan, the opening of a Canadian embassy in Yerevan, a little money, resolutions, and even the sending of the Foreign Legion to help if necessary.
In short, whatever the Armenian child wants, the only thing he can do is cry. Already the French government has decided to give Armenia 100 million euros in aid for economic development, and some of the more fervent amongst the Armenian diaspora "clients" are proposing to arm the Armenian army with modern French arms. By taking Armenia's side, France is ignoring all the decisions of the international community on the now almost extinct conflict and is leaving itself out of the process of a possible peace settlement. By and large, all these actions of French politicians once again confirm the correctness of Azerbaijan's position that France, having openly taken the side of Armenia, has definitively lost the opportunity to participate in the negotiations as a mediator.
So France has left itself out of the negotiations and no amount of hysterical demands and tears from the Armenian "sisters" will be able to force the Azerbaijani side to change its position. Thus, such decisions by official Paris simply leave no room for France as a mediator, since in this case these mediators can only be the USA, Russia and the EU, which take a less objective position and do not groundlessly accuse one of the parties in favour of the other. Sometimes to the detriment of France's political and economic interests, official Paris not only covers its 'sister' in the international arena, but also openly intervenes in Armenia's relations with other countries, especially its traditional CSTO allies, hoping to finally tear the new 'sister' away from Russia by replacing Russian influence with that of France.
At the same time, senior French officials are calling for an extension of the EU observers' presence in Armenia, knowing full well that this will displease Moscow. The new Armenian "sisters" praise France for its support for Armenia, hoping to defect to it in the near future in the hope of finding a new patron and sponsor. The fact that at the last minute the Armenian leadership is conditioning the meeting of the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia in Brussels, mediated by EU president Michel, with French president Macron participating in it, is a stab in the back not only of the EU mediation, but of the entire peace process.
After all, both the Armenian side and the French diplomats are well aware of President Ilham Aliyev's position, which he expressed immediately after President Macron's last interview with French television and the well-known events at the Francophone Summit in Tunis, that with this unilateral position of France, its participation as a mediator in the peace process is no longer possible. This is why the French roulette wheel has been played backwards and, as it spun out, it has hit itself, putting an end to its involvement in the peace settlement and effectively putting an end to France's as yet unstarted entry into the region of the South Caucasus.
We should not forget that any political line pursued needs an economic justification, which France is unlikely to find in Armenia while losing Azerbaijan and Turkey. After all, it has long been clear to everyone that French business has become a hostage of a Turkophobic biased policy, engaged French politicians who have a pathological historical hatred for everything connected with Muslims, Turkey and Turks in general. A vivid example is the fact that France, ignoring all norms of international law, not only issued visas to the separatist leader A. Harutyunyan and his escorts (who are wanted by the Azerbaijani side for terrorism and separatism and who use Armenian passports to travel abroad), but also created conditions for these war criminals to act provocatively on French territory.
French parliamentarians welcomed the separatist delegation to parliament with open arms, promising them full support and assistance, and the state-owned television channel France 24 gave the war criminal an opportunity to appear on air as a special guest. The host of the programme presented him as the head of an "independent" state, silent on the fact that this so-called "quasistate" has not been recognised by anyone in the world, including France and Armenia. Araik's old girlfriend, unsuccessful presidential candidate Valérie Pécrès (head of the Ile de France region), who, shortly before the presidential election, "secretly" entered the territory where Russian peacekeepers were temporarily deployed and rejoiced at her full support for the separatists, was not left out of it, causing another scandal in Azerbaijani-French relations with her defiant behaviour.
The well-known Turkophobe and Islamophobe Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris, who suffered a crushing defeat in the presidential elections, has not hesitated to meet her favourite "sister" Araik and is trying once again to extort money from the Armenian diaspora. To somehow justify herself for not risking to repeat the "Valéry leap", the mayor of Paris received an "important" guest at her city hall, where she promised the separatists support in achieving "international recognition," temporarily forgetting about the problems of residents of the French capital, which is buried in mountains of rubbish and where rampant crime has become dangerous to take to the streets as a result of her incompetent management.
Perhaps a meaningless meeting with "sister" Araik is more important to her than the safety and health of the people of Paris. All in all, this so-called "working visit" by the separatist leader to France caused "trousers full of joy" in Armenia and among all Armenians worldwide, as well as tears of sympathy from their French patrons, who needed to account to their sponsors for the money spent on them as a step towards recognising Artsakh's "independence".
I wonder how French officials would react to similar actions of Azerbaijan against leaders of Corsican separatists or supporters of the Kanak independence movement in New Caledonia. They would certainly cause uproar in the world and accuse the Azerbaijani side of disrespecting the fundamental principles of international law and the UN Charter, and demanding punishment and apologies. But Azerbaijan, unlike the current French authorities, has always been faithful to its international obligations and has never compromised bilateral relations with France.
French politicians made their choice by choosing the false path of support for separatism and neocolonialism, which sooner or later will hit France so hard that it will not be enough. With its decisions and actions, the French side caused irreparable damage to bilateral relations with Azerbaijan, as well as to the image of France in the eyes of the Azerbaijani people, which will take a long time for the next generation of French leaders to restore.