French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called on Tuesday for Russia to dispel the “confusion” over the ceasefire signed in Nagorno Karabakh, especially regarding Turkey’s role and the withdrawal of foreign fighters.
“The ceasefire was necessary to save lives,” he said in the National Assembly, “but there is confusion,” referring to the agreement concluded between Azerbaijan and Armenia under the auspices of Russia.
“Confusion about refugees must be dispelled, ceasefire lines, Turkey’s presence, the return of foreign fighters and the start of negotiations on the Karabakh status,” he added, explaining that these points will be addressed during a meeting of the heads of the Minsk Group (France, Russia and the United States) on Wednesday in Moscow.
The ceasefire agreement concluded on November 9 confirms the decisive role of Russia in its former sphere of influence and the growing influence of Turkey, which supports Baku, in the region in parallel with the decline of Western influence.
After arming and supporting Azerbaijan to confront Armenia, Turkey will participate in peacekeeping operations, even if its role remains unclear, and it must negotiate with Moscow.
Ankara accuses Ankara of supporting Baku by sending to the conflict zone Islamic rebels loyal to Turkey from Syria, whose presence raises questions.
A French diplomatic source stated that “the departure of foreign fighters deployed in the context of this conflict is an essential element for the stability of the region”.
Representative Guy Tessier (Republicans, opposition) asked the minister, “Where is the Minsk group that is supposed to find a peaceful solution to the conflict?”
In reference to Paris and Washington mediating in this issue alongside Moscow since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Tessier confirmed, as analysts and experts, that “this cease-fire indicates the exit of Westerners from any diplomatic process in the Caucasus”.
Le Drian rejected any French position that is not active in this file and stressed that Paris through the Minsk Group will continue to play a role in the peace process and determine the status of Nagorno Karabakh in the future.
“These discussions began on the one hand between the President of the Republic (Emmanuel Macron) and President Vladimir Putin, and on the other hand between the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and me in Paris,” the minister said, amid clamor in the Assembly as a section of the political class accuses France of not supporting Armenia enough in this dispute.
Pompeo, who met on Monday in Paris, condemned Macron and Le Drian “extremely hostile actions by Turkey”, especially in its “support” of Azerbaijan.
The agreement negotiated by the Russian president does not mention any long-term solution nor negotiations on Nagorno Karabakh.
For its part, Azerbaijan, which considers the Minsk group to be loyal to Armenia, welcomed the “creation of a new form of cooperation with the participation of Russia and Turkey”.