Head of the Press Service Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Leyla Abdullayeva answers the question of the media regarding the statement made by French President E.Macron at the joint press briefing with the Prime Minister of Armenia
Question: At a joint press briefing with the Armenian Prime Minister, French President E.Macron spoke about the observance of the ceasefire between Azerbaijan and Armenia, the release of all detainees, including prisoners of war, the settlement of tensions between the parties, Azerbaijan's withdrawal from Armenian territories, as well as voiced solidarity with Armenia. How would you comment on these statements?
Answer: First of all, we would like to emphasize that a ceasefire is being ensured in the region, based on a joint statement signed by the leaders of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia on November 10, 2020. Russian peacekeeping forces are carrying out a peacekeeping mission to ensure a ceasefire. We do not see any role of France in this matter.
As it is known, the Azerbaijani side has always taken the position of exchanging all prisoners of war on the basis of the "all for all" principle. As we have repeatedly stated, there are no Armenian prisoners of war in Azerbaijan. As for the members of the sabotage group sent to Azerbaijan on November 26, 2020 after the signing of the trilateral statement, who committed a terror act, as well as the members of the intelligence-sabotage group attempting to plant landmines in the road in the direction of Kalbajar region on May 27, they are not prisoners of war.
Concerning the false accusations made by Armenia about the missing Armenian soldiers, we would like to note that as it has recently been discovered in Armenia, the missing Armenian soldiers are kept in a refrigerator in one of the morgues in the country, and it caused a big scandal in Armenia. Azerbaijan, on the other hand, guided by humanitarian principles, found the bodies of about 1,600 Armenian servicemen with the participation of Russian peacekeepers and the International Committee of the Red Cross. The bodies of Armenian soldiers were handed over to the other side. Nevertheless, Armenia has not yet provided information on the 4,000 Azerbaijanis who went missing during the First Karabakh War.
We welcome the statement of the French President on the restoration of the Muslim monuments. However, in connection with the name of Nagorno-Karabakh, which the President referred to in his speech, we would like to emphasize that there is no such administrative-territorial unit.
As for the issue of direct dialogue referred to in the statement, it is already happening. According to the statement signed by the leaders of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia on January 11, 2021, meetings are being held at the level of deputy prime ministers, thus there is a dialogue. However, France has no role in this process.
Coming to the delimitation and demarcation process, as it has already been stated, Azerbaijan supports the beginning of the delimitation process, and this process must be resolved through negotiations.
We would like to emphasize once again that Azerbaijani servicemen serve in their native lands. We would like to note with regret that although France has been the co-chair since 1997, it has never called for the withdrawal of Armenian troops from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. However, this was the demand of the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council.
As for the settlement of border issues via negotiations, we’d like to stress that Azerbaijan has always been a supporter of a negotiated settlement of the conflict and has participated in the negotiations process for 28 years. That is why Azerbaijan is always open to discussions and negotiations.
France is a co-chair country and has been participating in the regional processes since 1997. Therefore, the statement on the “return of France to the region” is not clear.
It is not a secret that France has a special sympathy for Armenia, but as a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, the country must maintain official neutrality. We hope that in accordance with the co-chairing mandate, France will take a neutral and impartial position.