STEPANAKERT, BAKU (Combined Sources)—The Chairman of the France-Armenian Friendship Group, Francois Rochbeloine, visited the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Monday and addressed the Karabakh National Assembly, raising the ire of Azeri government, which formally appealed to the French Embassy in Baku.
Accepting an invitation by Nagorno-Karabakh Republic’s parliament speaker, Ashot Ghoulian, Rochbeloine arrived in Stepanakert and met with the speaker separately before addressing the National Assembly.
During the meeting, Rochbeloine said he was pleasantly surprised at the changes in Karabakh, which he said was a testament to Karabakh’s advances and achievements in various realms.
Ghoulian also briefed the visiting legislator on the current efforts by the Karabakh National Assembly, adding that legislators were constantly in the process of adopting resolutions that strengthen democratic institutions and come closer to European standards.
During his address to the National Assembly, Rochbeloine said that France has always defended the principle of a people’s right to self-determination, adding that he personally has been an ardent supporter of the Karabakh struggle, “the struggle that you are waging for Nagorno-Karabakh’s freedom and sovereignty.”
He also discussed the peace talks saying that concessions were necessary to achieve peace, however a peace plan that forces unilateral concession on the part of Karabakh is unacceptable.
“We cannot trust a government, which on one hand asserts its desire for peace and on the other hand makes hostile militant statements,” said Rochbeloine referring to Azerbaijan.
Meanwhile in Baku, the Azeri government appealed to the French Embassy for an explanation of Rochbeloine’s visit to Nagorno-Karabakh, said an Azeri foreign ministry spokesman.
The Azeri foreign ministry urged the French embassy to find out about the trip and report back to the ministry.
“We will take relevant steps after clarifying the issue. The question is about the Member of Parliament and not a government official. But we can send a note of protest to France,” said the Azeri foreign ministry spokesperson.
Rochbeloine arrived in Yerevan Saturday and met with Parliament Speaker Hovik Abrahamyan, who praised French legislators, especially his guest, for advancing French-Armenian cooperation.