The French Senate has adopted a resolution calling for sanctions to be imposed against Azerbaijan and for France to recognise Nagorno-Karabakh, leading to fury in Baku.
The resolution was adopted on Wednesday by 295 votes to one.
It condemned Azerbaijani aggression against Armenia in September, calling for the withdrawal of Azerbaijani troops from Armenian territory and from the Lachin corridor, which connects Armenia with Nagorno-Karabakh.
It called on the French government to impose sanctions against Azerbaijan, ‘consider setting up a humanitarian office in Nagorno-Karabakh’ and immediately request the deployment of an international peacekeeping force to ‘guarantee the security of the Armenian populations and of Armenia’.
Russian peacekeepers were deployed to Nagorno-Karabakh following the end of the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War, however, the Armenian government has grown increasingly critical of the mission’s failure to prevent clashes from breaking out.
While adopted almost unanimously, the resolution in France’s upper house of parliament does not legally oblige the government to act.
During the discussions in the Senate, Olivier Becht, a representative of the French Foreign Ministry, did not object to its adoption but also did not suggest that the government would follow its recommendations.
‘No country in the world does more to support Armenia’, he added.
While the resolution was met with anger in Baku, the government of Nagorno-Karabakh called it an ‘important step’.
‘We express our gratitude to our friends in France for adopting an unequivocal and principled position’, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Armenia has not yet commented on the resolution.
Fury in Baku
Azerbaijani authorities were swift to respond, summoning French charge d'affaires Julien Le Lan on Wednesday to hand over a protest note.
The Foreign Ministry stated that the resolution was ‘groundless and far from the truth’. They said it would undermine the normalisation of Armenian–Azerbaijani relations, and ‘clearly demonstrates the biased and one-sided political position of France’.
‘The Karabakh region, which is an internationally recognised territory of Azerbaijan, is an integral part of Azerbaijan, the rights and security of the Armenian population living in this region is an internal matter of Azerbaijan’, the statement reads.
On Wedeneday, the Azerbaijan Parliament adopted a statement condemning the French Senate.
The statement called for assets belonging to French officials in Azerbaijan to be frozen, and for cooperation with French energy companies to be reconsidered.
Speaker of Parliament Sahiba Gafarova, who opened the debate, said that every line of the French resolution contained ‘hatred against Azerbaijan’.
The head of the pro-government Vatan Party, Fazail Agamali, proposed to review the relations with France and to recall Azerbaijan’s ambassador to France, while MP Tahir Karimli, meanwhile, proposed declaring France an enemy state.
During the sitting Human Rights Committee Chair Zahid Oruj also appeared to threaten to cut off Azerbaijani gas supplies to Europe.
‘Those who call for sanctions against our country are willing to freeze the Europeans’, he said.
‘Such resolutions do not change the results of the Patriotic War’, he added, ‘on the contrary, they are another blow to the Armenian people.
‘Look at history, as the number of such decisions increases, the number of the Armenian people decreases.’
Azerbaijani Human Rights Commissioner Sabina Aliyeva said the resolution was indicative of ‘the collapse of international law, international humanitarian law, and international human rights law’ in France.
France has grown increasingly supportive of Armenia since the 2020 war, even more so after the 2022 September fighting in Armenia.
French President Emanual Macron mediated a meeting between Ilham Aliyev and Nikol Pashinyan along with the EU council President Charles Michel in October. France also initiated a meeting in the UN Security Council over the September clashes.
The French Senate previously adopted a resolution in November 2020 that emphasised the ‘urgent need’ for the recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh.