President Emmanuel Macron of France accused Russia on Wednesday of deliberately provoking the recent clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan as part of an effort to destabilize the Caucasus.
Speaking to France 2 television on Wednesday Macron said Moscow had stoked tensions in recent months in favor of Azerbaijan, Reuters reported.
“What’s been happening on the border the last two years … 5,000 Russian soldiers are allegedly there to guarantee the border, (but) the Russians have used this conflict which dated back several centuries and played Azerbaijan’s game with Turkish complicity and came back to weaken Armenia which was once a country it was close to,” Macron said.
“You see what’s happening? It’s an effort by Russia to destabilize. It wants to create disorder in the Caucasus to destabilize all of us.”
Earlier on Wednesday, the Russian foreign ministry accused the European Union of interfering in Moscow’s efforts—and leadership—in the Armenia-Azerbaijan settlement process.
“Sadly, we are witnessing the E.U.’s regular attempts to, at all cost, interfere in the efforts to settle normalize between Armenia and Azerbaijan by warding off our country’s mediation efforts,” Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday at a briefing, casting doubt on the effectiveness of the E.U.-led civilian mission that was announced on Tuesday.
Last week Macron hosted a meeting, along with the President of the European Council Charles Michel, with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan in Prague. A statement emanating from the meeting suggested that Armenia and Azerbaijan had agreed to recognize each other’s territorial integrity and stated a consensus for the deployment of an E.U. civilian mission to the Armenia-Azerbaijan border.
This week, the E.U. announced that a mission, lasting two months, will be deployed this month.
While meeting with Armenia’s foreign minister Ararat Mirzoyan, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organization was prepared to send its own mission to the border, only after the group’s security council approves it. With Armenia set to assume the rotating presidency of the organization, Lavrov put the onus on Armenia to convene a CSTO Security Council session to allow such a mission in the region.