PARIS — French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Wednesday denounced Turkey for “military involvement” on the side of Azerbaijan in the Karabakh conflict.
“The new aspect is that there is military involvement by Turkey which risks fueling the internationalization of the conflict,” Le Drian told French parliament.
Le Drian said France deplored “a large number of civilian casualties for little territorial progress on the part of Azerbaijan, given it is Azerbaijan that initiated the conflict.”
He repeated the call for an immediate end to the fighting and a return to negotiations “without conditions” under mediation by the Minsk group co-chaired by France, Russia and the United States.
“There will be meetings tomorrow in Geneva, another on Monday in Moscow and we hope that this will lead to the opening of negotiations,” the minister said.
Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry announced later in the day that Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov will meet with the French, Russian and U.S. co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group in Geneva on Thursday. It said Bayramov will “present Azerbaijan’s position on the conflict’s resolution.”
For his part, Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanian will travel to Moscow on Monday. Anna Naghdalian, the Armenian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said preparations for the visit have been underway for “some time.”
Naghdalian stressed that no talks between the two ministers are due to take place in Geneva on Thursday.
“Armenia’s principled position is that there cannot be a situation where they hold negotiations with one hand and conduct military operations against Armenia and Artsakh (Karabakh) with the other,” she said. “An end to Azerbaijan’s large-scale military aggression against Artsakh is imperative now.”
The U.S., Russian and French mediators have persistently called on the parties to restore a ceasefire regime since the outbreak of large-scale fighting in in the Karabakh conflict zone on September 27. Baku has said until now that this is conditional on international “guarantees” of Armenian withdrawal from Karabakh. Yerevan rejects this precondition.