French polls and Armenia

French polls and Armenia

French polls’ outcome can hardly affect relations with Armenia, yet Yerevan needs a more engaging French policy in the region. Read more   

Text : Tigran Zakaryan

Incumbent French President Emmanuel Macron and the far-right Marine Le Pen are the two candidates to compete in the runoff, the results of the first round of elections held on 10 April show. While Macron has a modest advantage of ca. 5 per cent over his rival, the French president, positioning himself as more pro-EU, less nationalistic and anti-Putin, has serious chances to win in the second round scheduled for 24 April. 
Both candidates made overtures to the influential Armenian community in France, yet it seems that from Yerevan’s perspective there might be some difference between the two candidates. 

First of all, Armenia’s prime concern is Nagorno-Karabakh. Russia currently has assumed the primacy in Karabakh matters, by sidelining the OSCE Minsk group partners from France and the US. France is unlikely to play any major role in this matter soon, even if the French envoy in the group is visiting Yerevan on 11 April. However the role of Paris along with Washington’s might increase again in case Russia suffers a major setback in Ukraine and even more so if the country plunges into chaos. France can also play a more active role in Armenia and the region in case Macron is elected. Meanwhile chances are high that although Le Pen could be more anti-Turkish in rhetoric, she would reduce Paris’s engagement in areas which Russia considers a zone of its vital interests. 

With all this said, it is worth keeping in mind that France has a long-established foreign policy strategies and can hardy be changed overnight. On the other hand Paris has limited leverages to influence in the region. Also it should be taken into consideration that the presidential term in France is five years and in the current period of instability a lot can change during that time. Armenian needs more a president of France engaging in the region and this engagement alone can create more room for maneuver for Yerevan.

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