Azerbaijan on Tuesday complained to France about four French parliamentarians visiting Nagorno-Karabakh and said it will blacklist them for not asking Baku to authorize the trip.
“Because of disrespecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and failing to notify corresponding state structures of Azerbaijan about the visit to Nagorno-Karabakh, the members of the French parliament will be included on a ‘black list’ of persons whose entry into the country is not desirable,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Elman Abdullayev told the Trend news agency.
Abdullayev said the Azerbaijani Embassy in Paris sent a protest note to the French Foreign Ministry. The letter warned that the visit will harm France’s efforts to broker a peaceful solution to the Karabakh conflict together with the United States and Russia.
Trend quoted Azerbaijan’s ambassador to France, Elchin Amirbekov, as saying that the ministry promptly responded to the complaint. According to him, it said the four deputies traveled to the disputed territory in their individual capacity and do not represent the French National Assembly.
The lawmakers led by Guy Teissier, chairman of the parliament committee on defense, arrived in Stepanakert on Monday to voice support for the Karabakh Armenians’ efforts to gain international recognition of their de facto independence. Speaking in the Karabakh parliament, Teissier described the trip as a gesture of “solidarity.”
Teissier, who is affiliated with France’s ruling UMP party, and his colleagues -- Jacques Remiller, Georges Colombier, and Valerie Boyer -- met with Karabakh President Bako Sahakian on Tuesday.
Sahakian was cited by his press office as praising France’s mediating role and urging French legislators to step up their contacts with his unrecognized republic.
“In the context of developing bilateral relations, Bako Sahakian stressed the importance of expanding parliamentary ties, underlining the strong interest of Artsakh (Karabakh) in this sphere,” the office said in a statement. “Both sides stressed the need for further deepening cooperation and elaborating concrete plans in this direction.”
The Azerbaijani government already blacklisted five other French deputies who visited Karabakh in June 2010. The trip was initiated by Francois Rochebloine, the pro-Armenian deputy chairman of the French parliament committee on foreign affairs.