“France and Armenia have forged a special relationship deeply rooted in history. This relationship of friendship, dense and trustful, continues today in all areas,” Macron said in a congratulatory message sent to President Armen Sarkissian on Armenia’s Independence Day.
“I would like this link, which forms the richness of our bilateral relationship, to deepen even further when it comes to our cooperation in various sectors such as culture, education, health or even economic cooperation,” he wrote.
France, Macron went on, “stands with Armenia to help it overcome the challenges facing it one year after the deadly conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.” He said Paris will also remain actively involved in international efforts to resolve the Karabakh conflict spearheaded by the U.S., Russian and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian discussed those efforts in a September 17 phone call with his Armenian counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan. According to the Armenian Foreign Ministry, the two men also agreed on the need to expand “multidimensional cooperation” between their countries.
“The sides agreed to discuss in greater detail soon prospects for stepping up their cooperation in the economic sphere, including through the implementation of new development programs in Armenia,” the ministry said in a statement.
Mirzoyan praised France’s position and actions taken during and after last year’s Armenian-Azerbaijani war over Karabakh.
Macron criticized Azerbaijan and accused Turkey of recruiting jihadist fighters from Syria for the Azerbaijani army shortly after the war broke out in September 2020. Le Drian demanded “the departure of the Syrian mercenaries” from the conflict zone following a Russian-brokered ceasefire that stopped the hostilities in November.
Turkey denied sending members of Turkish-backed Syrian rebel groups to fight in Karabakh. Azerbaijan also denied their presence in the Azerbaijani army ranks. Both Ankara and Baku accused Paris of pro-Armenian bias.
Macron was also quick to voice strong support for Yerevan after Azerbaijani forces reportedly crossed some sections of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and advanced several kilometers into Armenian territory in May.
“The Azerbaijani troops must leave Armenia’s sovereign territory,” he said during a June 1 meeting in Paris with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian.
Baku maintains that its troops took up new positions on the Azerbaijani side of the frontier and did not cross into Armenia.
France is home to an influential Armenian community. The latter was instrumental in the December 2020 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.