France is to deliver military aid to Armenia after the surrender of the de facto republic in Nagorno-Karabach to Azerbaijan.
French foreign affairs minister Catherine Colonna declared on October 3 in the Armenian capital Yerevan that Paris has “given its approval” to the sale of military equipment to Armenia to help it protect itself from Azerbaijan.
“France has given its agreement to the conclusion of future contracts with Armenia which will enable the delivery of military equipment to Armenia so that it can ensure its defence,” Colonna said at a press conference in Yerevan.
She did not specify the armament concerned but insisted that France would act “in this area with a spirit of responsibility on both sides and without any spirit of escalation”.
“If I have to go a little further, know that there are things that were already agreed between Armenia and France and that are in progress,” Colonna said.
She pointed out that Azerbaijan, Armenia’s Eastern neighbour, using its oil revenues and with Turkish support, had “never stopped arming itself to take action”.
Armenia is a traditional ally of Russia and has bought weapons from Moscow.
Azerbaijan “accidentally” killed several Russian soldiers in its lightning-fast offensive against the region in September.
Almost 600 casualties have been reported as a result of the military action, with the battle itself killing around 200 men on each side.
The separatist enclave had been fighting Azerbaijan for more than 30 years.
France, which has an Armenian diaspora of around half a million people, is also seeking to contain Turkey, Azerbaijan’s ally.
France and its Western allies fear that Armenia and its government could be destabilised after the Russian abandonment, according to Reuters.
Since the takeover of Nagorno-Karabach, more than 100,000 ethnic Armenians – in excess of 80 per cent of its entire population – have reportedly fled the region. Representatives of the International Red Cross say it is now pretty much deserted.
The United Nations has sent its first mission to the enclave in more than 30 years.
Paris has already given Armenia €12.5 million in humanitarian aid and French officials back the notion of slapping European Union penalties on Baku.
The latter might be difficult to achieve as the EU has looked to Azerbaijan for energy supplies after Russia invaded Ukraine, making Baku a potentially crucial partner.
— France Diplomatie🇫🇷🇪🇺 (@francediplo) October 3, 2023