PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday pledged to increase economic aid to Armenia and deepen broader French-Armenian relations in the face of what he called destabilizing effects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Macron denounced Moscow’s “historical revisionism” and “imperial dreams” as he addressed a French-Armenian cooperation forum in Paris after holding talks with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
The two leaders made a joint appearance at the concluding session of the daylong event organized by their governments.
“What is happening in Ukraine today is not without consequences for the rest of the region and not without consequences for Armenia,” Macron declared in his speech. “So we are extremely vigilant about that.”
“As this war unleashed by Russia is destabilizing your immediate neighborhood, Mr. Prime Minister, I also want to communicate to you France’s commitment to bring peace to Ukraine and to continue encouraging lasting stability in the Caucasus,” he told Pashinyan.
Macron mentioned the six-week war and said the conflict in Ukraine “must not make us forget” other international hotspots such as Nagorno-Karabakh. France, he said, will continue to press for the release of Armenian prisoners of war still held by Azerbaijan, support the opening of Armenian-Azerbaijani transport links and strive for a comprehensive resolution of the Karabakh conflict.
According to an Armenian government statement, the conflict was high on the agenda of Pashinyan’s talks with Macron held earlier in the day. The Armenian premier was reported to blame Azerbaijan for recent days’ upsurge in truce violations in Karabakh and on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, which left one Armenian soldier dead.
Macron spoke of “worrying events” in the conflict zone in his in his speech at the Paris forum held days after the official start of his reelection campaign.
Macron said that the French-Armenian forum marks “the start of a process that will reinforce our bilateral cooperation, our commitment to Armenia and our will to work together.” The two governments have worked out a “French-Armenian economic roadmap” for the next five years and are also planning more joint projects that will benefit Armenia’s public infrastructures, healthcare system and cultural and historical heritage, he said.
Macron also announced that the French government will set up a special fund for wide-ranging assistance to Armenia. He urged French regions and charities to contribute to the fund.
Prime Minister Pashinyan noted that the Armenian government is interested in the expansion of the presence of French business in the Armenian market. Cooperation in economic sectors such as infrastructure, tourism, reservoir construction, agriculture, etc. was highlighted.