The ex-colonial power is up to no good in the South Caucasus, President Ilham Aliyev has claimed
France is stuck in its colonial ways and is intent on causing instability in regions that it never previously ruled, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev claimed on Tuesday.
Speaking at an international conference on decolonization hosted by Baku, Aliyev unleashed a barrage of condemnation at Paris, including over its military contact with Azerbaijani regional rival Armenia following the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict earlier this year.
France was responsible for millions of colonialism-related deaths and is still pursuing a "neocolonialism policy" today, both in former territorial possessions and elsewhere, the Azerbaijani leader alleged.
"France destabilizes... the South Caucasus by supporting separatist tendencies and separatists," Aliyev said. "By arming Armenia, it implements a militaristic policy, encourages revanchist forces in Armenia, and prepares the ground for the start of new wars in our region."
France announced in late October that it was selling weapons to Armenia as it ramps up defense cooperation with the government of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. This month, Armenian Deputy Defense Minister Edvard Asryan visited the headquarters of the US European Command (EUCOM) to discuss how Washington and its NATO allies could help Yerevan with a military build-up.
Armenia, a Russian partner within the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), has been looking to the West under Pashinyan's rule. The prime minister has accused Moscow of failing to defend his country during border clashes with Azerbaijan last year. Russia and other members of the CTSO instead pushed for de-escalation and sent officials to monitor the ceasefire.
The Pashinyan government suffered a blow in September when Azerbaijani troops seized full control of Nagorno-Karabakh. The territory had initially broken away from Baku amid the dissolution of the USSR, as its predominantly ethnic-Armenian population sought independence.
The operation completed what had begun during the 2020 Armenian-Azerbaijani war. The Russian-mediated truce struck by Pashinyan and Aliyev at the time led to Yerevan formally acknowledging Baku's sovereignty over Nagorno-Karabakh.
Western nations have for several year been offering themselves to Armenia as alternative security providers instead of Russia. Türkiye, a NATO member and Azerbaijani ally, expressed skepticism about the intentions of outside players on Monday.
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"Those who incited Armenia for years and collected profit from the pain, troubles and conflicts of all the people living in this region actually inflicted the greatest damage on the Armenians," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan remarked, without naming specific countries.
He suggested that Armenians would be better off if their government sought "peace and cooperation with their neighbors, not thousands of kilometers away."