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Baku and Paris expel diplomats amid diplomatic turmoil

29 December 2023
The Azerbaijani Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Image via Azertaj.

Azerbaijan and France expelled several of each other’s diplomats this week as tensions between the two countries reach their highest.

On Thursday, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov accused France of stirring a diplomatic crisis with his country.

This came after Azerbaijan expelled two French diplomats on Tuesday for actions ‘incompatible with their diplomatic status and which contradicted the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations’. Azerbaijan did not elaborate on what those actions were.

In response, France expelled two Azerbaijani diplomats in Paris the following day, issuing a statement denying the ‘allegations presented by Azerbaijan to justify its decision’.

Bayramov stated that ‘there is a difference between our steps and the steps taken by France: we speak with evidence and facts’.

‘This step of the French side, which has no basis, was another mistake of that country’, said Bayramov, adding that the current state of French–Azerbaijani relations was at its ‘lowest point in the last 30 years’.

While Bayramov and the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry did not elaborate on why they expelled the two French diplomats, pro-government Azerbaijani media reported earlier this week that Azerbaijan had exposed a French spy network operating in the country.

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On Monday, Trend claimed that a French citizen ‘who had been a non-staff member of the French spy network for many years, willingly worked with Azerbaijan’s law enforcement authorities’.

They added that Azerbaijani law enforcement agencies apprehended ‘a number of people involved in intelligence activities relating to Ukraine, Georgia, and Azerbaijan’.

Neither Paris nor Baku have officially commented on these allegations.

Azerbaijan has more recently been critical of France for its provision of military equipment and aid to Armenia, accusing Paris of seeking to instigate another military escalation in the region.