"I BELIEVE, MACRON DIDN’T MAKE A LAPSUS BY QUALIFYING ARTSAKH AS A COUNTRY"

During the first days of Artsakh war France is probably the most active international player. France is a co-chair in the Minsk (with USA and Russia), president Emanuel Macron made several statements against Turkey's involvement in the conflict and then more then 170 French politicians called on France to openly support Armenia. French Armenian journalist Tigrane Yegavian explains France's position in a short interview. 

 

Interview: Areg Davtyan

 

What should we expect from yesterday's letter of 173 signatories? 

This is the first time that the French Armenian Associations Representation’s Committee as well as the French ARF branch has managed to get such number of signatories. They successfully challenged to get these signatories from French political staff belonging from all the political mainstream of the country. 

Though this kind of declaration hasn’t any political effect, it has definitely a strong symbolic scope and shows all the nation’s solidarity towards the Armenians of Artsakh.

Is there a possibility that France recognizes Artsakh thus starting a chain reaction for a global recognition?

Nothing is final but it is not on the agenda for the moment. But there is no doubt that the “threat” of a recognition of the Republic of Artsakh represents itself a significant pressure on Baku. However, I believe that when President Macron delivered a speech to the journalists in Brussels, he didn’t make a lapsus by qualifying Artsakh as a country. He seems to be very involved in this issue and his efforts are reflecting his awareness and worries. 

With president Macron's statements and today's letter France seems now a biggest ally of Armenia. Was this predictable? 

We must take into account that the French-Armenian relation is insignificant and irrelevant if we put aside the emotional and historical dimension of the link between French Armenian diaspora and the mother land. There are very few French companies investing in Armenia, the bilateral trade was 82 million of euros in 2018. 

Let's take a step back and look at the geopolitical context of recent months in the region; relations between France and Turkey are going through a period of turbulence. In France, structures of the Turkish diaspora are trying to spread Ankara's propaganda and constitute a threat to the model of national integration. Through their schools and mosques, they encourage communitarianism and the rejection of the values of the French Republic. In addition to that Turkey has become a strategic rival of France in Libya, but also in Lebanon. Thus, the war launched by Azerbaijan and Turkey against Artsakh and Armenia in general constitutes the last drop of water which breaks an already full vase.

However, I believe that this period of tensions between both countries is something temporary. The French lacks a power of persuasion and retaliation, where Turks use to push there are accustomed to pushing their adversary to his last entrenchments to negotiate from a position of strength. 

Armenians demonstarting in Paris suburb Alfortville for Artsakh | Photo: armenews.com

 

Do France have specific interests in Caucasus, Anatolia, or is this activity based on solemnly humanitarian reasons?

France doesn’t consider Caucasus and all this area as strategic for its interests. The fact is there is a will to advocate multilateralism and the respect of international law in the context of the US withdrawal from the foreign affairs and the campaign for the presidential elections. Paris wants to seizes the opportunity to raise awareness as well on the danger of Turkish erratic policy which is jeopardizing all the eastern Mediterranean as well as the Middle East, now the Caucasus. 

What is the general reaction to the war in society?

The conflict of Karabagh remains utterly unknown and there is a need for pedagogy. The fact that French opinion leaders clearly made understood that Erdogan was behind this new war changed the perception of the conflict. 

In addition, we must take into account that a lot of people who sympathize the cause of Middle Eastern Christian minorities see Armenians as Christian minority of the East threatened by panturquism and jihadist mercenaries. This perspective and the current context already enhanced the support for the Armenians. Last but not least, French Armenians who are famous, are mobilized on the ground, in their respective networks, in order to provide the best support to Artsakh.