ISTANBUL (AA) – Azerbaijan has demanded an apology from France over “slander” during the 2020 Karabakh war with Armenia.
“During the conflict, France openly accused us, slandered us. I demanded an apology from them. They slandered us without even any evidence,” the country’s President Ilham Aliyev said on Tuesday in an interview with local newspapers.
He claimed that France wanted Karabakh, internationally recognized as a territory of the South Caucasus nation, to remain at the center of an unresolved and “frozen” conflict.
“We haven’t come to peace with this. I believe this is the essential reason behind their anti-Azerbaijani position. Because, we foiled their plans and they couldn’t save Armenia, which they placed under their own patronage,” Aliyev said, adding that “Armenian influence” on the French government was another reason for their policy against Baku.
He said Paris had maintained a balanced stance until the start of the 44-day conflict and that it wanted to remain a mediator despite its policy shift.
“We can live without France, and France can live without us. We have lived as such … But, if there are attempts to normalize this situation, of course we will not be deaf to it,” he added.
Relations between the two former Soviet republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.
In the fall of 2020, in 44 days of clashes, Azerbaijan liberated several cities, villages and settlements from Armenian occupation. The Russian-brokered peace agreement is celebrated as a triumph in Azerbaijan.
Baku has rebuffed past “provocations” by France, including parliamentary resolutions calling for sanctions against Azerbaijan and its withdrawal from territory liberated from Armenian occupation.