Azerbaijan Accuses France of Provocative Actions in Region; Armenia Responds in Kind

In a recent development that could further inflame tensions in the South Caucasus, Azerbaijan has accused France of engaging in provocative activities by supplying Armenia with advanced military hardware. This accusation comes on the heels of a contract signed between Yerevan and Paris for the delivery of CAESAR self-propelled artillery units, as announced by French Defense Minister Sébastien Lecornu on June 18 through his social media account on X (formerly known as Twitter).

The Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan swiftly condemned the move, stating that France’s decision to equip Armenia with lethal and offensive weaponry demonstrates a clear intent to destabilize the region. "We declare that the entire responsibility for the aggravation of the situation in the South Caucasus region and the emergence of a new hotbed of war will be borne by the revanchist policy of the Armenian leadership and the Macron dictatorship," the ministry's statement read.

In response, Armenia expressed bewilderment at Baku's reaction, emphasizing its sovereign right to bolster its defense capabilities. The Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a statement dated June 19, suggested that Azerbaijan's opposition to the military-technical cooperation between Armenia and France is an attempt to thwart the peace process. The Armenian ministry further alleged that Azerbaijan is preparing to launch new aggressions following the COP29 summit in Baku scheduled for November 2024.

Azerbaijan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs dismissed Armenia's accusations, maintaining that its stance is aimed at ensuring regional stability.

Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan engaged in a telephone conversation on June 18, signaling a potential thaw in relations. According to the Turkish President's press service, both leaders reaffirmed their commitment to normalizing bilateral ties without preconditions. The Armenian government’s press service highlighted mutual congratulations on respective upcoming holidays and Erdogan's expression of condolences over recent flooding in Armenia's northern regions.

The dialogue underscored the importance of continued negotiations between special representatives of both nations, with both leaders noting some progress in agreed topics. This conversation reflects an ongoing diplomatic effort to stabilize relations in a historically volatile region.

Political commentator Khaleddin Ibrahimli, speaking on the "Difficult Question" program, refuted claims that Azerbaijan seeks to instigate a new conflict, arguing that such notions lack logic given Azerbaijan's recent territorial gains. He suggested that revanchist elements within Armenia, possibly supported by external forces, might be the ones pushing for militarization and conflict.

Ibrahimli contended that France's actions, along with those of India, are aimed at maintaining tension in the South Caucasus to counter Turkish and Azerbaijani influence. "Armenia is the breaking point of the Turkic world," he stated, adding that France is one of the forces that have been pushing for this break since the 16th century. With the opening of the Zangezur corridor, this gap is being overcome to some extent.

India, in turn, does not want Turkey to penetrate into Central Asia. By the way, Iran does not do this either. The interests of these countries converge here," the expert stressed.

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