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France's blind support for Armenia inflates new regional conflict

19 January 2024 17:44 (UTC+04:00)
France's blind support for Armenia inflates new regional conflict
Qabil Ashirov
Qabil Ashirov
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France continues to deteriorate its relations with Azerbaijan due to the influence of the Armenian lobby in Paris. It is worth noting that the 44-day war became a milestone in Azerbaijani-French relations. When Azerbaijan liberated its territories from Armenian invasions, France stopped pretending to be a mediator in the peace talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan and commenced to conduct a more aggressive foreign policy. In a nutshell, adopting the anti-Azerbaijani resolution by the French Senate exemplifies it.

However, Paris does not have enough leverage to impact Azerbaijan. First of all, France, military-wise, is not strong enough to confront Azerbaijan over Armenia. Most importantly, Paris does not have military infrastructure in the Caucasus.

As regards economic power, France's activities are limited as well. In 2023, the GDP of France amounted to $3.2 trillion which made up 3 percent of the world's GDP. With 3 percent, France cannot impact any country in the world, let alone Azerbaijan, which gradually turns into the energy hub of Europe. Secondly, Azerbaijan and France do not have close economic cooperation. In 2023, the trade turnover between the two countries totaled $0.5bn which is equal to 0.9 percent of Azerbaijan's foreign trade turnover. Azerbaijan’s exports to France amounted to $133mn which made up 0.39 percent of Azerbaijan’s total exports.

Generally, in a confrontation with Azerbaijan, the losing side is likely to be France, beyond all exaggerations. Neither France nor Azerbaijan have big mutual investments. However, several French companies are operating in Azerbaijan, and the biggest of them is obviously TotalEnergy. The company has been present in Azerbaijan since 1996, where it is a 50% partner of the Azerbaijani SOCAR group in the Absheron gas and condensate field and holds a 5% stake in the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline.

Given the present situation and the inadequate steps taken by the French Senate against Azerbaijan, the Azerbaijani parliament adopted a statement and proposed expelling French companies from Azerbaijan, including Total. In this case, Total will be deprived not only of gas extracted in the South Caucasus but also of Azerbaijan's green energy initiative, in which the company is eager to participate. In short, as is shown in the statistics, France's resources to use as leverage against Azerbaijan are limited. Paris thinks that it can impact Baku through Azerbaijan's business partners, such as Italy, Israel, Hungary, etc. Taking into account the share of France's GDP in the world's GDP, its external debts, and so on, it seems impossible as well. For example, despite the USA adopting the 902 amendment against Azerbaijan, neither Israel nor Italy (the biggest trade partner of Azerbaijan) stopped cooperation. Thus, it is not reasonable that the countries that did not follow the USA will follow France.

So, why is France so interested in deteriorating its relations with Azerbaijan? Speaking to Azernews on the issue, a French political analyst, Dr. Frank Musmar, noted that the resolution's multiple points have no political meaning except for the last one, which emphasises “the importance of taking the most severe measures, including seizing the assets of Azerbaijani leaders, embargoing gas and oil imports from Azerbaijan, and imposing sanctions in response to Azerbaijan’s military operations".

“Undoubtedly, the Armenian diaspora in France is playing a toxic and dangerous game (the resolution was co-authored by the head of the France-Armenia friendship group in the Senate, Gilbert-Luc Devinaz) that is against peace in the South Caucuses. France's blind support for Armenia will inflate a new regional conflict. The Armenian diaspora in France plays the victim of “Turkish/Azerbaijani aggression”. Besides, Armenia is smaller than both Azerbaijan and Turkiye, and the question of the “Armenian genocide” lingers above the relationship and gives Armenia, in sum, the victim role in that conflict. Accordingly, France is still thinking about colonisation and imperialism, especially after losing the African ex-colonies one after another. France does not want to get out of the big boys club and does not want to fight for it; it will choose a new colony (Armenia) to fight its war against Azerbaijan. France wants to be able to hold on to some influence, especially since the rest of the countries in the Middle East are not fond of France, and the United States and Russia have already stepped in for Iraq and Syria. Lebanon is too weak to exert influence, and France could not influence Israel or Iran,” he said.

The pundit added that France will do whatever it takes to escalate the aggravation against Azerbaijan. Armenia is the last point of influence that was left for France. Moreover, France was gradually getting in dire need of oil and gas supplies, and by intervening in the area, the colonising French mind still wanted to play the role of the pirate in the South Caucasus, trying to get whatever the superpower left behind: Baku Oil.

“Azerbaijan must impose sanctions on French companies, especially Total Energy, and partner with other superpower-represented gas companies. It’s all about gas and several other players in the energy field. The relationship between France and Azerbaijan will not improve. It will keep getting worse due to the influence of the Armenian Diaspora in France and due to France's Gas and Oil Target at Baku," said Dr. Frank Musmar.

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Qabil Ashirov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @g_Ashirov

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