French FM: MPs's visit to Nagorno-Karabakh is non-official
Azerbaijan, Baku, Aug. 23 / Trend S.Agayeva /
The French MPs' visit to Nagorno-Karabakh was of a non-official character, and was performed on the personal initiative of a group of MPs, the French Foreign Ministry said in its response to Azerbaijan's protest note on the French MPs' illegal visit to the Azerbaijani territories occupied by Armenia.
The French side has officially confirmed its position stating that this visit is not performed upon the French National Assembly, but upon the personal initiative of the Chairman of the French Assembly's defense and armed forces committee Guy Tessier.
Tessier, who led the delegation, is the mayor of the ninth and tenth arrondissement of Marseille, which is densely populated by Armenians. Teissier is apparently trying to score points in the run-up legislative elections in France in 2012, Azerbaijani Ambassador to France Elchin Amirbekov told Trend.
The Azerbaijani Embassy in Paris presented a note protesting the French Foreign Ministry in connection with the French MPs' illegal visit to the Azerbaijani territories occupied by Armenia, First Secretary of the Foreign Ministry Spokesman Elman Abdullayev told Trend.
"It is not worth waiting for other explanation. We have already observed such a practice of visits, and probably they will continue. France's leadership can only express its dissatisfaction over such visits" Amirbekov said.
"The French Foreign Ministry tried to persuade Teissier to refuse from such visits. However, he decided to go, because the outcome of the elections depended on the visit," Amirbekov said referring to the Foreign Ministry's representatives.
"Teissier's such a step does not mean solidarity with the separatist Nagorno-Karabakh, about which he stated, but the importance of votes of the Armenians, who live in his constituency," he added.
He said the Foreign Ministry's officials understood the Azerbaijani side's indignation.
"In our note, we noted that this step does not improve bilateral relations with Paris and damages the efforts of France, as the OSCE Minsk chair country, to settle the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. In this regard, we expect the French Foreign Ministry to officially respond to the note and the French Foreign Ministry spokesman will voice Paris's position at a briefing, as previously," Amirbekov said.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan since 1992, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and 7 surrounding districts.
Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group - Russia, France, and the U.S. - are currently holding the peace negotiations.
Armenia has not yet implemented the U.N. Security Council's four resolutions on the liberation of the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding regions.