Pecresse: Infuriated vote-grabber claims imagined death threat
By Orkhan Amashov
Valerie Pecresse, a French presidential hopeful from the Republican party, who had the egregious audacity to illegally visit the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan on December 22, 2021, is now allegedly "infuriated" at the French government's "deafening silence" at Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev's remarks that she would not have been permitted to leave the country, had Baku been informed about her illegal trip.
At first glance, the whole case seems to be clear-cut, and the facts are undeniable. Three leading French politicians – namely, Madame Pecresse herself, President of the Il-de-France region; Michel Barnier, the former foreign minister and EU commissioner; and Bruno Retaillieau, the head of the Republicans in the Senate – visited that section of the liberated Karabakh region for which Russian peacekeepers are currently responsible.
It was a covert trip, organised in contravention of Azerbaijani and international legislation, and Baku reacted appropriately by sending a note of protest to the French embassy. In his January 12 press conference, President Aliyev expressed his regret and strongly condemned the trip, adding that Baku was unaware of the trio's presence in Khankandi and, had it known about the case, the persons involved would have been detained. And that is it. No more was said.
Thereafter followed a grotesquely appalling and ludicrously shambolic open letter addressed to the French president, signed by 245 deluded and xenophobic French politicians and public figures. The letter is replete with examples of blatant and unparalleled idiocy, unbefitting even the most raving schizophrenics on the loose.
First of all, the signatories claim President Aliyev’s remarks constitute an example of so-called "hate" speech and an overt threat against the French people and the French government. Secondly, they urge the French president not to tolerate Azerbaijan’s steps aimed at prohibiting the elected representatives of the French people from travelling to a territory “to which it has no jurisdiction”. The hysteric audacity hit the roof when the lawmakers demand a formal apology from Azerbaijan.
Ironically, the open letter in question, contrary to its assumed high moral ground, actually represents gross and unimaginably perverse hate speech aimed at Azerbaijan. It employs unforgivably disrespectful language in relation to Azerbaijani President Aliyev, shows disregard for the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and is indicative of a deep and profound disrespect for the dignity of the Azerbaijani people and state.
The Coordinating Council of Armenian Organisations in France (CCAF), in line with its existential purpose, picked up on this and called upon the French government to demand an explanation and apology from the Azerbaijani government for making such “terrorising statements” against a French presidential candidate.
Pecresse herself, in an apparent attempt to maximise the political gains that could emanate from such a “fortuitous” situation, claimed President Aliyev's remarks amounted to a "death threat".
First of all, Madame Pecresse, in line with the other candidates jousting for the highest office, is committed to securing the support of the sizeable and powerful Franco-Armenian community. Her visit to Yerevan was part of a vote-grabbing exercise, which, in itself, was perfectly legitimate. Pecresse’s one-day illegal excursion into Karabakah constituted an extra PR element, evidently aimed at enhancing her image as an indefatigable supporter of the Armenian cause.
"We must mobilise all of Europe around this conflict; it is not a conflict in the Caucasus, it is a conflict that affects Europe because when Christians of the east are attacked, it is the foundations of European civilisation that are under attack,” she told reporters in Yerevan.
The story goes beyond ensuring the electoral backing of the members of the 500,000-strong Franco-Armenian diaspora and appears to be part of a bigger agenda of luring the votes of conservative Catholic segments of the French public which consider the fate of the Christians of the east to be a matter of deepest moment. At present, support for Armenia also constitutes a commitment to conservative values.
According to the report published by the Jean Jaures Foundation, the French right, to which Pecresse belongs, has a time-honoured tradition of protecting eastern Christians, which manifested itself in lending support to the Lebanese Christians during the civil war of the 1980s. The same logic applies to Eric Zemmour, a far-right journalist and another candidate for the post of the French president, who visited Armenia prior to Percesse. His turgid claim that Armenia is “a Christian nation in an Islamic ocean” speaks for itself.
Pecresse’s ludicrously disproportionate reaction to President Aliyev’s remarks is also very likely to be a calculated PR attempt at martyrdom, the purpose of which is to add an extra respectability to her pro-Armenian stance and also provide a good opportunity to attack her opponent Macron. That is the reason why she interpreted what was a legitimate warning as a "death threat" without having a single shred of hard evidence for making such an accusation.
Interestingly enough, Pecresse’s claim that “as a candidate, she is free to go wherever she wants” does not appear to be in conformity with her tough stance on border control and immigration. She recently criticised the EU’s “sieve-like” borders, yet she committed an offence by illegally crossing the borders of another country and supporting an illegal occupation, albeit now ended.
Azerbaijani ambassador to France Rahman Mustafayev respectfully advised French MPs to avail themselves of the full text of President Aliyev’s interview, which includes numerous meaningful, instructive and constructive elements with regard to Franco-Azerbaijani relations. It is very unlikely that they will trouble themselves with the laborious task of reading the actual text which gave rise to their contrived perturbation, as it is quite often more convenient to be steered by easily-comprehended one-liners which suit the Islamophobic mood of the moment.
Pecresse’s visit also raises serious questions about the Russian peacekeepers' sincerity. In an evident attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of the Azerbaijani officials, they initially denied having any knowledge of the visit and then stated that “it fell out of the focus”. President Aliyev was very judicious in his remarks about the mission, trying to emphasise positive elements. The crux of his views was crispy: we are properly informed and don’t make a mistake of trifling with us.
The story surrounding Madame Pecresse reiterates the mundane absurdities of daily politics, bespeaking the squalid vote-grabbing aspirations behind the charade of lofty political asseverations. Her case is very simple and does not require a painstakingly arduous examination. To recapitulate, she made a covert illegal visit to the territory of a foreign country. Once the circumstances transpired, she was warned. She interpreted the warning as a death threat so as to gain some votes, although she will probably achieve nothing higher. This is the gist. And this is the politics of an advanced civilised nation called France. Sad. But no more than that.