European Council President Charles Michel speaks with French President Emmanuel Macron at the EU-27 Member State Heads informal meeting at the Palacio de Congreso on October 6, 2023 in Granada, Spain. (Photo by Marcelo del Pozo/Getty Images)


Macron on Azerbaijan: ‘This is not the time for sanctions’


French President Emmanuel Macron said he thinks sanctions against Azerbaijan would be “counterproductive” and “not the best way to protect Armenia and its population”.

He was speaking on October 5 in Granada, Spain, where European leaders are gathering.

Two weeks after the lightning offensive by Azerbaijan, Macron said he regretted its President Ilham Aliyev was not attending the summit in Grenada, despite having been invited.

Azerbaijan reportedly also wanted Turkey to be present but France and Germany objected. Officials in the capital Baku said they detected “anti-Azerbaijani sentiments” in European circles, especially in France.

Macron said Europe “should keep bringing Aliyev at the table” to negotiate.

The French President also announced that “this is not the time for sanctions”.

“They would be counterproductive and not the best way to protect Armenian territory and its people,” he said.

“The time calls for rigour, clarity, commitment, including the military support that France has undertaken,” Macron concluded.

The Azerbaijan foreign ministry said in a statement that allegations claiming Azerbaijan and Turkey had refused to participate in the Granada meeting “is a clear case of hypocrisy”.

“The participants of this event are well aware of the particular opposition of France to Turkey’s participation in the meeting. The French President spreading false information on this issue is improper behaviour for the head of state,” said the ministry.

The statement went further and said Azerbaijan was setting an “example with its multicultural and multi-ethnic values”, while France has its own ethnic conflicts and is the only EU Member State not to be part of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (this is also true of Turkey).

“It would be more beneficial for France to put an end to its insidious policy aimed at supporting and arming aggressive Armenia in our region, hindering peace and stability in the region, instead of issuing such irresponsible statements,” the ministry said.

According to President of the European Council Charles Michel, a meeting between the heads of government from Baku and the Armenian capital Yerevan will take place at the end of October.

Earlier in October, the President of the French Parliament Yaël Braun-Pivet had suggested putting economic sanctions on Azerbaijan and personal sanctions on Aliyev.

“We must use all the weapons at our disposal to mark the limit of what is happening and preserve Armenian integrity,” she said.

The European Parliament, which has denounced “ethnic cleansing” in Nagorno-Karabakh, has voiced support for “targeted” sanctions against Azerbaijan. On October 5, a resolution was overwhelmingly adopted at the Parliament’s Strasbourg plenary in which many MEPs called on the bloc to take a hard-line approach.

Azerbaijan forced the Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians to capitulate following a short offensive on September 19. This led to a mass exodus of reportedly more than 100,000 Armenians from the region, with the UN estimating that only about 1,000 remain in the enclave.

Russia has started closing its peacekeeping bases in the Agdere, Askeran and Shusha regions of Azerbaijan and will reportedly completely remove its forces from Karabakh area by November 1, the Azerbaijan Embassy told Brussels Signal.