On 20 February, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs
an excerpt from a news conference on its website, confirming that “France is fully committed to searching for a negotiated solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.”
“France calls on the parties to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to work conscientiously towards finding a solution through negotiations and to refrain from any statements or actions that could increase tension,” it says.
The statement comes in response to a comment of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev during a congress of the ruling New Azerbaijan Party on 8 February, where he
that “the political and strategic goal of our citizens is to return to Yerevan, which is a historical territory of Azerbaijanis”.
The president stated that the Irevan Khanate as well as the regions Zangezur and Goyche are “historical land of the Azerbaijani people, and both the younger generation and the international community should know this”.
“We, Azerbaijanis, must return to that historical land. This is our political and strategic goal which we should gradually get closer to,” Aliyev declared. He said that the international community supports Azerbaijan in the question of Nagorno-Karabakh, and added that the conflict needs to be resolved on the basis of resolutions of the UN Security Council.
The Armenian government, in turn,
the statements as unacceptable.
On 21 February, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry issued a
to the French Foreign Ministry, explaining that: “The statement of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev about a peaceful return of Azerbaijanis to their historical lands is one of the important humanitarian principles in the process of conflict resolution.”
The head of the Ministry’s press service, Hikmat Hajiyev, wrote: “While negotiations are under way to resolve the conflict, France as a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group and a permanent member of the UN Security Council as well as the other co-chairs should be seriously concerned about the illegal actions of Armenia which aim to annex the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, including by changing the demographic composition of these areas and destroying the cultural and religious heritage of the Azerbaijani people.”
The commentary further criticized French regions for establishing ties with the self-proclaimed government in Nagorno-Karabakh.