Turkish minister demands more involvement by the French government, to end the diplomatic stalemate in Karabakh
Bagis said that he is sure that France can persuade both Armenia and Azerbaijan back to the discussion table. He claimed that more than 20% of the sovereign Azeri land is currently under the illegal occupation of Armenian-backed forces, and this is hindering the stability of the entire region. The negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan were started recently, under the supervision of France, Russia and the US.
Armenian forces occupied the Azeri territory of Nagorno-Karabakh in 1993, after the defeat of the latter in the military conflict between the two sides. Karabakh was an Armenian majority region even before the formation of the USSR, but the Soviet authorities under the leadership of Joseph Stalin awarded the territory to Azerbaijan in 1923. After the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, the Armenian forces took control of the region and expelled tens of thousands of ethnic Azeris and Kurds from the Karabakh and the surrounding regions.
Local defence analysts have treated the conflict as a proxy-war between the Orthodox-dominated Russia and Muslim-dominated Turkey. However, it should be noted that Iran, another Muslim dominated country in the region, had supported the Armenians during their fight against Muslim Azeris. Russia is currently operating two military bases in Armenia, and an estimated two million ethnic Armenians reside in Russia, forming a very powerful voting bloc there.
The Armenian Diaspora in France is also very sizable, numbering for some 500,000 individuals. Édouard Balladur, the former Prime Minister of France was ethnic Armenian, and so was Patrick Devedjian, the minister for the Implementation of the Recovery Plan in Nicolas Sarkozy’s cabinet. The French government in 2011 had passed a bill, which made the denial of the Armenian genocide a criminal offence.