Baku has reportedly cancelled a meeting between Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev that was set to take place on Thursday after France announced its readiness to deliver military supplies to Armenia.
Azerbaijani state news agency Apa claimed that Aliyev had cancelled his meeting with Pashinyan in Granada as a result of France’s offer of military supplies to Armenia.
While Baku has yet to confirm media reports of its cancellation of the meeting in Granada, the Armenian Prime Minister expressed disappointment that the meeting would not take place.
‘We will go, we will present our views’, stated Pashinyan on Wednesday.
France’s Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna announced on Tuesday that the two countries agreed to sign a deal that would enable the delivery of military equipment to Armenia.
She stated in a joint press conference with her Armenian counterpart, Ararat Mirzoyan, that France wanted to help Armenia ‘ensure its security’.
She added that she could not disclose further details at the moment, but that her visit was meant to show that France would be ‘vigilant’ about any threat to Armenia’s territorial integrity.
Mirzoyan stressed that ‘[Armenia’s] partners’ had never demanded Armenia’s withdrawal from the Collective Security Treaty Organisation — a Russian-led international military organisation.
Colonna also met with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, pledging €12.5 million ($13 million) in humanitarian aid to assist with the influx of refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh. Colonna added that more aid would be forthcoming if needed.
Paris had earlier in the week announced that it was ‘examining’ Armenia’s defence needs.
‘We’ve opened a defence mission in Armenia that didn’t exist before, and which allows to have daily dialogue with the Armenian military and Armenian authorities, particularly to examine their needs in case of necessity’, stated France’s Defence Minister Sébastien Lecornu on 29 September.
‘I think I am the first Minister of the Armed Forces who’s had so many contacts with my Armenian partner’.
Lecornu quoted French President Emanuel Macron as saying that the ‘integrity, sovereignty, and defence of the Armenian population are an absolute goal for [France]’.
The French minister also clarified that France would not intervene militarily in case of an Azerbaijani attack, but would look at what Armenia needed to ‘defend itself’.
Baku was swift to condemn France’s offer of military equipment to Armenia, with the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry accusing Paris of instigating ‘another aggression’.
‘As with the previous attempts of France to intervene in our region, the inevitable failure of this kind of effort must be clear for France’, read the statement.
Baku has yet to confirm media reports of its cancellation of the meeting between Pashinyan and Aliyev, but Apa, citing private sources, reported that Aliyev had backed out of the meeting because of France’s offer of military aid to Armenia and Germany and France’s refusal to allow Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to join the meeting, and critical statements made by EU Council President Charles Michel.
The meeting which was announced in mid-July would have seen the two leaders convening with EU Council President Charles Michel, French President Emanuel Macron, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.