By Vafa Ismayilova
Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov and French Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group Stephane Visconti have discussed the latest regional situation and the implementation of the Karabakh peace deal, the ministry has reported on its official website.
In a telephone conversation that took place at the initiative of the opposite side on January 27, the two men also discussed other issues of mutual interest, the report added.
Earlier, visiting State Secretary of the French Foreign Ministry Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne said at a briefing in Baku on January 27 that relations between Azerbaijan and France will continue to develop despite there were some tense moments between the two countries.
Lemoyne added that France has always supported the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and was the second state after Turkey to recognize the country's independence. He added that the level of economic ties between the two countries increased by 20 percent despite the coronavirus pandemic.
“During the visit, meetings were held in the government. In particular, at a meeting with the Minister of Culture, the sides discussed issues of holding an exhibition dedicated to the 30th anniversary of relations between the two countries, as well as the possibility of increasing Azerbaijan's interest in learning French. During the meetings, issues of cooperation in the field of railways and within smart city projects were also discussed,” Lemoyne noted.
The French official also ruled out any barriers to the implementation of projects by the French companies on Azerbaijan's liberated territories.
“Big, world-famous French companies are represented in Azerbaijan. My current visit to Azerbaijan marks the beginning of new projects and the further development of relations,” he said.
He later added: "In the morning I have visited the depot of the French railway company in Azerbaijan and was amazed at the level of work being done there," the minister said. “The railways are of particular importance in terms of restoring ties in the South Caucasus, in particular, after the second Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh War.”
Lemoyne noted that "France and Azerbaijan want to work together in this sphere".
“As a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, France will contribute to the implementation of the agreement [on ceasefire and cessation of all hostilities in the Nagorno-Karabakh region] signed on November 9, 2020,” he added.
As part of his visit to Azerbaijan, the French official was received by President Ilham Aliyev on January 26. They focused on the regional issues and touched upon the agenda of Azerbaijan-France bilateral relations, news sources reported earlier.
On January 26, he was also received by Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov. The sides exchanged views on the current regional situation, the implementation of the trilateral statements of November 10, 2020, and January 11, 2021. Bayramov briefed his interlocutor on Azerbaijan's views on peacebuilding and new opportunities for cooperation in the region. The parties also discussed issues on the agenda of bilateral cooperation, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry reported.
It should be noted that during the 44-day war between Armenia and Azerbaijan that continued between September 27 and November 10, French President Emmanuel Macron and some French circles failed to demonstrate a neutral position, despite the fact that France is a co-chair in the OSCE Minsk Group mediating talks between Baku and Yerevan to find a peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
In contradiction to the mandate of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chair, only the interests of Armenia were protected and an inadequate position, which did not meet the requirements of a balanced and a fair co-chairmanship, was displayed. This stance was several times criticized by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and some other senior officials.
A Moscow-brokered ceasefire deal that Baku and Yerevan signed on November 10 brought an end to six weeks of fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijani army declared a victory against the Armenian troops. The signed agreement obliged Armenia to withdraw its troops from the Azerbaijani lands that it has occupied since the early 1990s.
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