BAKU (Combined Sources)—The Azeri Embassy in Paris presented a protest note to the French Foreign Ministry in connection to a “solidarity” visit by a French parliamentary delegation to the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic this week, said Elman Abdullayev, an Azeri foreign ministry spokesman, reported Trend news agency.
“The French members of parliament will be included on the ‘black list’ of persons whose entrance to Azerbaijan is undesired, due to lack of respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and for not informing relevant Azerbaijani government bodies about visiting the Nagorno-Karabakh region,” said Abdullayev.
The Azerbaijani side also appealed to the French Foreign Ministry with a request to seek clarification from the French National Assembly.
“In this letter, Baku demanded an explanation in connection with the French parliamentary delegation’s visit to the occupied Azerbaijani territories,” said Abdullayev.
Baku has had an ongoing policy of blacklisting officials who have visited Karabakh. Among those blacklisted by Baku are five other French deputies who traveled to Karabakh in June 2010. That trip was initiated by Francois Rochebloine, the pro-Armenian deputy chairman of the French parliament committee on foreign affairs.
The four-person delegation headed by Guy Teissier, chairman of the French National Assembly’s committee on national defense, is in the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and met with President Bako Sahakian, local parliamentarians and other officials in what is being dubbed as a trip show of support for Karabakh’s pursuit of international recognition of its independence.
“Coming to Armenia is a gesture of friendship. Coming to Karabakh is a gesture of solidarity,” Teissier said in a speech at the Karabakh parliament, reported RFE/RL on Monday.
The senior lawmaker, who is affiliated with France’s ruling Union for the Popular Movement (UMP) party, said that Karabakh had been incorporated into Soviet Azerbaijan “at the whim of a dictator” and that its predominantly Armenian population should be able to determine its status.
“Why would we keep silent and not say that people very deeply rooted in this land have the right to live here?” added Teissier.
Jacques Remiller, another UMP deputy and the mayor of the French city of Vienne, also voiced “great sympathy” for the Karabakh Armenian cause.
“Just as other nations like Kosovo and Cyprus, where they have two governments, they [the Karabakh Armenians] have the right decide their destiny by themselves,” Remiller told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.