We cannot look away from what is happening in Nagorno-Karabakh: French FM says any use of force must be excluded

France requested tan emergency meeting of the Un Security Council given the seriousness of the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said addressing the Council.

“After having amassed a large number of troops and military equipment for several weeks, Azerbaijan decided, on September 19, to launch a large-scale military operation. An operation which mobilized massive land and air resources, which affected the civilian population. An operation which no one can believe was not premeditated, even though efforts towards a negotiated solution were intensifying and the day before, for the first time in three months, the delivery of Humanitarian aid had resumed.,” Minister said.

“France immediately condemned, with all firmness, this unacceptable offensive which contravenes the principle of peaceful settlement of disputes enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations. France is far from being the only one. Many countries present around this table also marked their clear refusal of violence and arbitrariness, calling on Azerbaijan to show restraint and comply with international law,” he noted.

“As was feared, the toll of these actions was particularly heavy, causing several hundred injuries and dozens of deaths, including civilians, including several children. A ceasefire was announced yesterday. It was essential. It is essential that it is respected,” Mrs. Colonna stated.

“It is not the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan that is at stake here. Nobody disputes it. Nobody threatens it. What is at stake is the possibility for the Armenian populations of Nagorno-Karabakh to be able to continue to live there with respect for their rights, their history and their culture. Such a guarantee cannot exist when the strongest exercises deliberate constraint on the weakest, when the threat of permanent military intervention weighs, and when Nagorno-Karabakh has been the subject, for several months now, of a blockade which prevents the population from obtaining food, medicine and energy,” she emphasized.

The Minister said that if Azerbaijan is truly interested in reaching a peaceful, negotiated solution, it must now provide tangible guarantees:

  • engage in good faith in the discussions, excluding any use of force or any threat of use of force and accepting that this dialogue concerns the rights and guarantees of the population, with the support of the international community;
  • ensure amnesty to the forces who accepted the ceasefire;
  • restore, without delay and unconditionally, traffic through the Lachin corridor, in accordance with the order issued by the International Court of Justice on February 22, 2023, and since confirmed by the Court;
  • finally, it must accept an international humanitarian presence in Nagorno-Karabakh. This is essential as winter approaches.

“Without these guarantees, there will be no solution,” Catherine Colonna stated.

“This is unfortunately not the first time that France has alerted this Council to the seriousness of the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh. This is not the first time that she has called for mobilization to avoid a human tragedy and a worsening of this crisis which risks profoundly destabilizing the South Caucasus region,” the Minister said.

“The events of recent days confirm this: we cannot remain passive and look away from what is currently happening in Nagorno-Karabakh, at the risk of making ourselves complicit in the mass exodus of a population which is already very distressed. Several reports since yesterday indicate numerous departures in preparation even though nearly 10% of the population of Nagorno-Karabakh was displaced due to the offensive led by Azerbaijan on September 19,” she stated.

“This Council must actively contribute to resolving the crisis. It must defend the principles of the Charter and international security by actively supporting the definition of the parameters of a negotiated solution between Baku and the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh. It must clearly state its determination to uphold international law, at all times and in all places. And it must remain vigilant in the face of any attempt to drag Armenia into these tragic events and to use them as a pretext to call into question its territorial integrity,” the French Minister said.

“Prime Minister Pashinian has shown in recent months his sense of responsibility, his desire for de-escalation and his commitment to finding a negotiated solution with Azerbaijan, based on the recognition and respect of the territorial sovereignty of each party,” she concluded.

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