French Armed Forces Minister Sebastien Lecornu announced the trip late last month after meeting with Armenian Defense Minister Suren Papikian in Paris in the wake of the September 13-14 fighting on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. He said that the delegation will “assess the situation” on the ground.
The two ministers met the day after France’s President Emmanuel Macron received Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian in Paris. Macron blamed Azerbaijan for the hostilities and said Azerbaijani forces must “return to their initial positions.”
The French defense officials held on Thursday separate talks with Papikian and Major-General Eduard Asrian, the chief of the Armenian army’s General Staff. The Armenian Defense Ministry said that they discussed the implementation of “understandings” reached during Papikian’s trip to France. It did not give any details.
The delegation headed by Guillaume Ollagnier, a senior official at the French ministry’s Directorate General of International Relations and Strategy, met with Armenia’s High-Technology Minister Robert Khachatrian on Wednesday.
Khachatrian’s press office said they discussed “possible cooperation in the research-and-scientific and a number of other spheres.” It did not elaborate.
“The delegation exchanged views with its interlocutors on the modalities of reinforcing military cooperation between France and Armenia,” the French Embassy in Yerevan said for its part.
Following the two-day border clashes, which left at least 280 soldiers dead, Armenian officials complained about the Armenian army’s lack of modern weapons. Some of them did not rule out the possibility of French arms supplies to Armenia.
Pashinian again heaped praise on France when he met with a group of visiting French lawmakers on Friday. He described it as a “friendly country” that “always stands with Armenia in difficult situations.”
Earlier this month, Macron accused Russia of inciting Azerbaijan to attack Armenia in a bid to destabilize the South Caucasus. Moscow angrily rejected the accusation.