The Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of France to Armenia Jonathan Lacote, who has completed his diplomatic mission in Armenia, gave an exclusive interview to ‘Lurer’, referring to the settlement of the Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) issue and the November 9 trilateral statement.
Asked how it is possible to discuss military assistance when Armenia and France are not in the same military alliance, the diplomat said that if Armenia applies, France is ready to look for support options, as their goal is to rule out a new war.
“I am fully aware that the expectations from France are very high in the field of security, and any response by me to this issue raises those expectations. I think it should be very clear. First of all, France is ready to consider the applications that will be formulated by Armenia. In other words, if there is an initiative from Armenia, we are ready to consider how we can process that application. Of course, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Indeed, Armenia is a member of a specific military alliance, the Collective Security Treaty Organization. We must also take into account the fact that our priority is negotiations. Our goal is not to help Armenia, or to prepare any country for the next war, our goal is to avoid the next war, be it in Karabakh, on the borders or anywhere else. Our priority will always be negotiations, the resumption of the dialogue between Yerevan and Baku, the reduction of tensions, the establishment of confidence-building measures to ensure final peace in the region. All this will allow the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh, in particular, to live safely in their towns and villages.
The statement of November 9, as its name suggests, is not an agreement, it has great merit, as it allowed the establishment of a local ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh. What we see with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, and we agree, is that, of course, there are still many problems. As I mentioned, the issue of the status of Nagorno-Karabakh remains unresolved, we face especially serious humanitarian problems, in particular, the issue of Armenian prisoners of war still being held in Azerbaijan, the Armenia-Azerbaijan border issues since May.
We believe that from this point on, it is already very important that the three co-chairing countries will be involved again in order to resume the talks. It is obvious that these three states are primarily mediators. There must be political will in Yerevan and Baku to resume talks. Judging by my contacts with the Armenian authorities, I can state that there is that will here. And it is very important, because it is in Armenia's interests. I think the Co-Chairs will regain a central role in the coming weeks and months. This group is the only well-known platform for negotiations,” says Jonathan Lacote, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of France to Armenia.