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French, Armenian Leaders Again Discuss Karabakh


FRANCE -- French President Emmanuel Macron (R) shakes hands with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian during a bilateral meeting as part of the Paris Peace Forum, in Paris, November 12, 2019

French President Emmanuel Macron and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian have again discussed the situation in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone following the recent Armenian-Azerbaijani war stopped by a Russian-brokered ceasefire.

They spoke by phone late on Wednesday one day after a transport plane chartered by the French government delivered more humanitarian aid to Armenian victims of the conflict. The aid included medical supplies and clothing collected by the French-Armenian Aznavour Foundation.

“The President of the Republic expressed his determination to strive for a balanced political process in order to find a lasting political solution after the ceasefire agreement of November 9,” Macron’s office said in a statement on the phone call issued on Thursday.

“In this context, the President of the Republic pledged to support the ongoing efforts to allow the release of all prisoners and to support the economic development of Armenia,” it added.

For his part, Pashinian was reported to thank Macron for the “attention and support shown by him during this difficult time for the Armenian people.”

An Armenian government statement said the two leaders also discussed French-Armenian economic ties. It gave no other details.

France co-chairs the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe together with Russia and the United States. The three world powers tried hard to halt the war in and around Karabakh that broke out on September 27. The hostilities stopped only after Moscow brokered a fresh Armenian-Azerbaijani truce agreement on November 9.

Macron and his foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, have repeatedly discussed the agreement’s implementation with their Russian counterparts, Vladimir Putin and Sergei Lavrov.

The French president criticized Azerbaijan and accused Turkey of recruiting jihadist fighters from Syria for the Azerbaijani army shortly after the outbreak of the war. Le Drian reiterated last month French calls for “the departure of the Syrian mercenaries” from the conflict zone.

Turkey has denied sending members of Turkish-backed Syrian rebel groups to fight in Karabakh on Azerbaijan’s side. Azerbaijan also denies the presence of such mercenaries in the Azerbaijani army ranks. Both Ankara and Baku accuse Paris of pro-Armenian bias.

France is home to an influential Armenian community. The latter was instrumental in the recent passage by both houses of the French parliament of resolutions calling on Macron’s government to recognize Karabakh as an independent republic. The government ruled out such recognition, saying that it would be counterproductive for France and the Karabakh negotiating process.

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