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Azerbaijan Protests Against Karabakh Leader’s Visits To U.S., France


US - Bako Sahakian (R), president of Nagorno Karabakh, speaks at an event in the US Congress, Washington,14Mar2018.

Azerbaijan has criticized the United States and France for allowing Bako Sahakian, the Nagorno-Karabakh president, to again visit the two countries.

Sahakian flew to Paris last Wednesday to meet with pro-Armenian French lawmakers and leaders of the Armenian community of France. He also visited the local offices of the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund as it began an annual fundraiser in Europe that will primarily benefit Karabakh.

Sahakian proceeded to Los Angeles on Friday ahead of Hayastan’s traditional Thanksgiving Day telethon, a key source of funding for infrastructure projects implemented by the pan-Armenian charity in Karabakh and Armenia.

Both Sahakian and his predecessor have frequently made such trips to the U.S., France and other Western countries.

Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry said on Saturday that it has sent a note of protest to the French government. In a separate statement, the ministry also said Baku will “review” its relations with Paris because of what it called French support for Karabakh’s “occupation regime.”

“We believe that this move by France is casting serious doubt on its objectiveness and impartiality,” a spokeswoman for the ministry, Leyla Abdullayeva, told reporters.

Baku protested against Sahakian’s trip to the U.S. in a similar fashion. It questioned the “sincerity” of the U.S. policy towards Azerbaijan, saying that by issuing a U.S. visa to the Karabakh leader Washington is encouraging the “separatist entity.”

The U.S., France as well as Russia have long been co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group tasked with brokering a peaceful solution to the Karabakh conflict. Diplomats from the three mediating powers routinely visit Stepanakert and meet with Karabakh Armenian leaders during their tours of the conflict zone.

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