President Emmanuel Macron of France demanded that Azerbaijan pull back its forces from Armenia, after the September 13 attack on Armenia’s sovereign territory, as a result of which more than 200 people have died and over 7,500 people were displaced.
Macron joined the growing chorus of countries making the same demand from Baku. On Friday, the United States also made the same demand in a statement from its embassy in Armenia. A similar statement was made by the United Kingdom’s Embassy in Yerevan on Monday.
The French president made the remarks during a joint press conference on Monday with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan who is visiting France at Macron’s invitation to discuss Azerbaijan’s latest attacks on Armenia.
With France holding the United Nations Security Council presidency this year, Macron swiftly placed Azerbaijan’s attack on Armenia on the agenda of the body, which discussed the matter in depth on September 15 and called on Azerbaijan to swiftly end the military hostilities and observe a fragile ceasefire, which was brokered through international mediation.
“Taking into account that there are occupied positions, France demanded that the Azerbaijani forces return to their initial positions,” Macron said. “I told President [Ilham] Aliyev on September 14 that the fact that the border is not demarcated cannot justify any advance into the territory of the other country.”
“I have clearly stated since September 13 that France is convinced that the use of force cannot be a solution for either Armenia or Azerbaijan and it is necessary to resume the dialogue immediately. All unresolved issues, which are numerous, should be resolved exclusively through negotiations. The negotiations are held in different formats, particularly under the auspices of the EU, and they should be resumed,” added Macron.
He also reflected back to 2020 when Azerbaijan launched an aggressive attack on Artsakh in what is now commonly referred to as the 44-Day War.
“It is impossible to build peace under the threat of force. To that end, France will do everything, will pursue its goal, which is a stable, safe and prosperous South Caucasus,” said Macron.
“I emphasize France’s commitment to achieving peace and stability for your country and the entire region. I salute your sense of responsibility and your position to do everything to establish peace. I want your country to have tranquil and peaceful borders,” Macron told Pashinyan ahead of their closed-door meeting at the Elysee Palace.
“I would like to emphasize that our position is unequivocal: the Azerbaijani armed forces must withdraw from the sovereign territory of Armenia, and I want to thank France, personally President Macron, for recording this position,” Pashinyan, in his turn, told Macron, explaining that official Baku’s claim that the attack took place because of the absence of border delimitation is absolutely false.
“The administrative borders between Soviet Armenia and Soviet Azerbaijan became state borders in the first months of independence of the two countries, since both Armenia and Azerbaijan signed and ratified the December 8, 1991 Agreement on Establishing Commonwealth of Independent States. Moreover, both countries are members of the CIS until now. I want to emphasize that it is an integral part of this agreement that the administrative borders, the existing borders basically become state borders and the countries that joined the agreement recognize these borders,” Pashinyan explained.
“This means that the actions of Azerbaijan cannot be assessed in any way other than deliberate aggression. As a result of the Azerbaijani occupation, the situation in our region remains tense. I think that sending an international observation mission to the regions affected by the Azerbaijani occupation and the border zone will help the international community to receive direct and not mediated information, and will also become an important factor in stabilizing the situation,” added Pashinyan.
“As for long-term solutions, I think it is necessary to sign the Armenia-Azerbaijan peace treaty with the mutual recognition of the borders reaffirmed by the agreement of December 8, 1991. Armenia is ready for the opening of communications and the construction of new communication routes in the region, in accordance with the national legislations of the countries through which they pass,” said Pashinyan.
“We also attach importance to the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, which will guarantee the rights and security of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh. I think the start of Azerbaijan-Nagorno Karabakh discussions can be useful. In this context, I must emphasize the role of France as an OSCE Co-chair country,” the prime minister added.