Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev on Tuesday accused France of inciting a new war in the Caucasus by supplying arms to Baku’s arch-enemy Armenia, with whom he fought two wars.
Baku and Yerevan have been embroiled in a decades-long territorial dispute over Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh region, which Baku recaptured in September after a blitzkrieg against Armenian separatists.
In written comments to an international conference in Baku, Aliyev said: “(France) is acting by providing arms to Armenia, encouraging Armenian revivalist forces, and laying the foundations for a new war in our region. It is pursuing a militaristic policy.”
In a statement read by a foreign policy adviser, Aliyev said Paris was “destroying stability in the South Caucasus, supporting separatist tendencies and separatists, as well as former and current colonies. ” he said.
France, which has a large Armenian diaspora, is regularly criticized by Baku’s president for harboring a “pro-Armenian bias” in territorial disputes in the Caucasus.
Internationally mediated peace talks between the former Soviet states have made little progress, but the leaders of both countries have said a comprehensive peace deal could be signed by the end of the year.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan of Armenia and President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan held several meetings mediated by the European Union.
But last month, Aliyev refused to attend negotiations with Pashinyan in Spain, citing French prejudice.
French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz were also scheduled to join EU Prime Minister Charles Michel as mediators for these talks.
Baku on Thursday also refused to participate in normalization talks with Armenia scheduled for this month in the United States, citing America’s “biased” position.
So far, there has been no visible progress in the EU’s efforts to organize a new round of negotiations.