Calls for Sanctions
The French Senate today passed a resolution which calls upon the government to impose sanctions against Azerbaijan, as well as condemns their September 2023 attacks upon the former self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh).
The resolution passed almost unanimously, passing 336-1. French Senator Nathalie Goulet of the Orne Departement was the sole vote against.
The September 2023 attacks by Azerbaijan saw them seize in whole the disputed territory of Artsakh after the surrender of the local Artsakh Defence Forces. The seizure of the territory, which was internationally recognized as territory of Azerbaijan but inhabited by ethnic Armenians, saw the exodus of the region’s 120,000 Armenians, which the resolution calls a “forced exodus”.
The resolution calls for a series of different actions. Listed below are a few of the most important actions which the French Senate has called for:
- Calls for sanctions against Azerbaijan due to past and continued “aggression” against Armenia
- Calls for the return of Armenian civilian and military prisoners held by Azerbaijan, as well as the bodies of Armenian servicemen still held by Azerbaijan, under threat of sanctions
- Seeks to alert both the French government and EU “to the hegemonic ambitions of Azerbaijan and Turkey as well as the danger they represent for the Republic of Armenia, its territorial integrity and peace in the Caucasus”
- Calls for the suspension of Azerbaijan from the ‘Intergovernmental Committee for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict’, and requests their protection be extended to Armenian cultural sites within Artsakh
- Requests the immediate establishment of a UNESCO group of experts to embark on a mission to Artsakh in order to report on the state of Armenian religious and cultural sites within Artsakh
- Calls upon the government to re-examine both its and the EU’s relationship with Azerbaijan
- Commends French governmental support of the refugees from Artsakh, and makes a wider call to France’s European partners to support them in a similar manner
- Condemns and calls for the release of Artsakh’s political leaders which were arrested following the surrender and dissolution of the Republic of Artsakh
- Calls for the withdrawal of Azeri troops occupying internationally recognized Armenian territory
Notably, the resolution also refers to Azeri actions taken in Artsakh as “ethnic cleansing”. It also goes so far as to say the “proven threats” of Azerbaijan to “erase all traces” of Armenian heritage could constitute in the ICC a crime against humanity.
“Considering the proven threats of irreversible degradation weighing on the Armenian cultural and religious heritage of Nagorno-Karabakh, of which the occupiers would like to erase all traces, in their genocidal designs; considering that in the reading of the International Criminal Court such degradation would constitute a crime against humanity”
Armenia and France have grown notably closer in the last few months. While Armenia and France, who has a notably large Armenian diaspora, have always held a special relationship the past few months have seen a series of notable events which signal the two nations’ growing relationship.
Following the September attacks, as Artsakh’s Armenians were filtering out of Artsakh into Armenia, France announced they were opening a consulate within Armenia’s Syunik province, as well as sending a Defence Military Attache to Armenia. During these announcements, France accused Russia of having “abandoned” Armenia, noting that “France firmly stands by Armenia”.
Armenia has also signed two different defence contracts with France following the September attacks, in order to supply Armenia with weapons. In November, Azeri President Aliyev condemned the sale, stating that France’s sale to Armenia “prepares the ground for the start of new wars in our region”, further accusing them of destabilizing the region.