The French Senate on Wednesday recognized the independence of the Republic of Artsakh with a vote of 305 to 1, following an almost two-hour debate on the floor of the upper house of the French Parliament. The measure urges the French government to follow suit.
The resolution also condemns the Azerbaijani-Turkish military aggression against Artsakh on September 27, with the participation of terrorist mercenaries, and calls on the French authorities to take all possible measures to ensure the restoration of borders defined by the 1994 ceasefire, which, in fact, were determined by the trilateral ceasefire agreement signed by Artsakh Republic, Armenia and Azerbaijan.
“This is a historic vote for international efforts for the recognition of Artsakh,” said Jules Boyadjian the chairman of the Committee to Defend Armenian Cause (ANC of France).
“Thanks to the Senate, France has regained part of its honor, which has been squandered for the past six weeks because of its criminal neutrality. The government, more isolated than ever, must listen to the nation’s representatives, put an end to empty speeches, pull itself together and take the leadership in the fight for the recognition of Artsakh—the only guarantee for lasting peace in Nagorno-Karabakh,” added Boyadjian.
One by one, 12 senators made powerful statements ahead of the vote, all calling attention of the gruesome human rights violations and war crimes committed by Azerbaijan. They also highlighted the role of Turkey in not only supporting Baku on the military front, but also sponsoring jihadists to fight alongside Azerbaijani forces.
The senators were clear in pointing out that the Karabakh conflict is not a territorial one, but rather one was a matter of survival for the Armenians.
The senators also warned of the threat to millennia-old Armenian heritage under the an Azerbaijani rule and urged that France engage with international organizations, as well as UNESCO, to ensure that the cultural monuments and churches are protected from extinction.
They warned that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is eyeing the recreation of the Ottoman Empire and advancing Turkish nationalism and expansionism, which they said poses a threat for Europe and the region.
They also spoke at length about the Armenian Genocide, and how successive Turkish leaders not only have denied the crime, but, quoting Erdogan, have vowed to “finish” what their ancestors started, posing an existential threat to the Armenian people and Armenia.
Recalling the policies of the Soviet Union, which placed the majority Armenian-populated regions of Karabakh and Nakhichevan with the Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan, which for decades pursued a policy of depopulating the areas from its Armenian inhabitants.
The senators praised the people of Artsakh for exercising their right to self-determination and declaring independence through a democratic referendum, emphasizing that throughout the years Artsakh has demonstrated its will to exist as a democratic nation.
All speakers said that France has the unequivocal moral and universal responsibility to recognize Artsakh and urged the French government to reflect the sense of the legislature and follow suit. Thus, the senators said, France would have taken a decisive step to ensure the security of the Armenian population of Artsakh and defuse Turkey’s efforts to advance its nationalist and pan-Turkist policies around the world.
Representing the government, Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, France’s state minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, cautioned the senators about the ramifications of France’s recognition of Artsakh, saying that France, a co-chairing country of the OSCE Minsk Group, could lose its objectivity in the ongoing negotiations process. He also cited the fact that Armenia has not recognized Artsakh.
“We welcome the French Senate’s overwhelming recognition of Artsakh and encourage the United States – as a fellow OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair country – to join in recognizing Artsakh’s status as a free and independent republic,” said Armenian National Committee of America Executive Director Aram Hamparian.
“Aliyev’s Azerbaijan – guilty of weeks of non-stop war crimes against the citizens of Artsakh – lacks any legal, political, or moral standing to oppose international recognition of Artsakh independence, essential to remedial efforts to ensure the safety of its at-risk population,” added Hamparian.