Reactions to Sarkozy’s visit continue

Some time has already passed since President of France Nikola Sarkozy’s visit to the South Caucasus, but both Western and Azerbaijani presses are still discussing the visits, giving their evaluations and analyzing some thoughts that the French President expressed.

It is not by chance because this was a regional visit by the leader of the largest country in Europe-the country that is a member of the G8, is calling the shots in European politics, setting the tone and putting several decisions that can present a danger to Europe on hold. What’s more, Sarkozy’s visit fell in line with the pre-electoral period, and this means that he had to present the approaches that may become the primary goals for political cooperation during his presidency. What Western and Azerbaijani analysts especially focused on was Sarkozy’s visit to Armenia, and it is because France has the largest Armenian population in Europe. There are more than 500,000 Armenians living in France, and most of them can already be viewed as indigenous. Sarkozy’s position on Turkey is conditioned by his stance on the “Armenian Cause”. During his term as president, Sarkozy led a clear-cut policy and did everything possible to not let Turkey join the European Union and put the future of this part of the world at risk. Going along with certain agreements sometimes, Sarkozy prevented the adoption of a law on criminalizing Armenian Genocide denial and fulfilled the United States’ several “assignments” in order to “mitigate” its policy on Turkey. However, in general, Nikola Sarkozy became the only European leader that gave a clear formulation of Turkish-European relations and turned the demand for Turkey’s democratization into an imperative.

There are reasons why the Azerbaijani were so attentive to Sarkozy’s visit. There is no doubt that on the background, we should pay attention to French President Nikola Sarkozy’s visit to Armenia and the words that he pronounced here, which directly sent a message to Turkey and Azerbaijan, as well as a demand. The visit of the president of one of the Co-Chairing countries to Armenia, his clearly stated position and his short meeting in Baku go to show that France has recently become passive in the OSCE Minsk Group and that the NKR now has a friendly country that will never agree to a resolution that will not favor Artsakh. No matter how much the comprehensive discussion on the Karabakh issue lacked in Sarkozy’s speeches, the Azerbaijani are running amuck. They viewed Sarkozy’s visit to Azerbaijan as the French President demonstratively humiliating Azerbaijan. As is known, President of France Nikola Sarkozy stayed in Baku for only 2 and a half hours, and Azerbaijani presses say that was the shortest out of all official visits to Azerbaijan. In that period, Sarkozy held private talks with Ilham Aliyev, handed the “Legion of Honor” Medal to Aliyev’s wife Mehriba Aliyeva, dined with Aliyev, participated in the opening of a French school and left the country.

“Sarkozy spent an entire day in Yerevan, visited the Genocide memorial and made a clear statement on Turkey’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide,” Azerbaijani presses write, underlining that during his visit to Armenia, Sarkozy threatened to adopt the draft law criminalizing Armenian Genocide denial, and didn’t even find time to visit the Shehids (martyr) alley and give a briefing in Baku. Of course, the Azerbaijani are intentionally distorting the facts and acting like the side that is offended without wanting to tell the society the truth that Nikola Sarkozy’s visit to Armenia was not a typical visit, but a state visit, while the visits to Baku and Tbilisi were viewed as working visits.

What especially filled the Azerbaijani with indignation was the fact that during his visit to Yerevan, the French President had spoken of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution and the great love that the French have for Armenia. “In a word, Sarkozy’s behavior humiliated Azerbaijan,” the Azerbaijani media writes in closing. The Azerbaijani media’s statements and evaluations are the evaluations of the official Baku since the media isn’t free in Azerbaijan and can’t present its own judgements and evaluations without the authorities’ order and consent. Of course, the Azerbaijani authorities are not naive and know that Sarkozy couldn’t have done more or violated the principles of protocol during a working visit, but it intentionally distorted the truth with the objective of instilling lack of confidence in France and calling France’s principled approach in the negotiations taking place within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group into question. Baku knows very well that France’s position still can’t be decisive because the official Washington and Moscow are the levers for which there are no real principles and conventions. They are guided by their own interests and place their issues first.

It has already been announced that the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State will soon visit Baku with new proposals. According to sources, there are six proposals. The Armenian side assures that the fact that there are new proposals goes to show that all of Azerbaijan’s previous proposals no longer exist and that the new proposals can’t be a turning point since they have to be agreed with Armenia, but it’s not only a matter of agreement. Armenia has declared several times that there are no principles that are above the right of nations to self-determination. Thus, any proposal must contain this provision. Of course, many don’t deny that provision and don’t take it out of the agenda, but alongside the adoption of that provision, Armenia may also be suggested mutual concessions that may put Armenia’s security and the security of Nagorno-Karabakh at risk. Let us note that the Kremlin has often circulated versions for mutual concessions that will strengthen Russia’s positions in the region at the price of Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia. Here is where Armenia has to be very careful and considerate. Recently, it wasn’t by chance that Baku announced that Armenia’s army exceeds Azerbaijan’s army 34 times, meaning that Armenia has breached the international commitments regarding the army and arms. No declaration is made by chance. Baku comes to terms on certain declarations with several military partners, of which one is Russia. This declaration can contain a subtext that was recently talked about. The issue is related to the allocation of so-called peacekeeping forces in the region-something that Russia is going for. If Russian forces are allocated, it is not excluded that Turkey, as a member of the Minsk Group, will also express the desire to take part in peacekeeping actions, which will increase tension in the region and lead to active efforts on the part of Iran, which will never allow Turkish forces come close to its border. In the meantime, it is this version that favors Turkey’s military partner, the U.S. in order to set control.

Circles of political scientists in Armenia are not too motivated by the French President’s visit, especially in terms of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement. According to political scientist Yervand Bozoyan, even though it was clear that “Sarkozy was formal and asymmetric in Baku, there shouldn’t be great expectations from that. “The French won’t make great efforts for the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement and it isn’t worth waiting for something new. The experience of the process of negotiations over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement has shown that there won’t be a speedy solution regardless of anything, even if stars fall from the sky. The issue won’t be solved anytime soon because the solution to this issue is very intricate, and the sides have varying positions.”

President of France Nikola Sarkozy made the following statement on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement during his visit to Yerevan: “No country better than France can understand what Nagorno-Karabakh is for Armenia. But 17 years after the war that caused so many deaths and so much sorrow, it is time to resolve the conflict and find the road toward reconciliation. Armenia has the right not to live isolated because this imposed isolation indescribably prohibits the country’s prosperity and the future of the youth.”

Sarkozy especially called people’s attention to the contemporary history, realities in Europe and expressed the view that the history of France and Germany has shown that nations can find the strength to reconcile at the most difficult moments. “This is the path that the Armenians and Azerbaijans must choose. The moment for taking risks for peace has come. I know that the Armenian people have enough will and the Armenian President has enough strength to take such a step. This is the message that I will take with me to Baku.”

According to ANS, Sarkozy didn’t make any statement to the media in Baku. “Contrary to the fact that Ilham Aliyev spoke before Nikola Sarkozy and devoted most of his speech to the process of resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, no matter how strange it sounds, the President of France, which is a co-chairing country of the OSCE Minsk Group, didn’t even mention a word about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in his speeches,” ANS mentions. In the meantime, according to Armenian Ambassador Arman Navasardyan’s opinion in the presses, France is a big player in geopolitics, and such statements can already be considered success of Armenia’s foreign policy. “It is a crevice that leads to the West,” the Ambassador mentioned. Arman Navasardyan also answered the question that especially interests and concerns the Azerbaijani society, and that question refers to the difference of the statements made in the conflicting countries. “It couldn’t have been symmetric because the French have the “Armenianness” syndrom. The French can’t treat the Azerbaijani like they do the Armenians. It is merely the human factor. There are geopolitical isses that we can’t ignore, but that is a different story.”

Levon Mutafyan

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