France expels two Azerbaijan diplomats in ‘reciprocity’ move

Dec 28 2023

France has declared two employees of Azerbaijan's embassy persona non grata in a move of "reciprocity", the Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.

The ministry said in a statement it had summoned French ambassador Anne Boillon to express a "strong protest over the actions of two employees of the French Embassy".

Without providing further details, it said the two had been declared personae non gratae and ordered to leave the country within 48 hours.

The move came amid tense relations between the countries as Baku has accused France of being biased towards Armenia during European-mediated peace talks with its arch-foe.

In November, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev accused France of inciting conflicts in the Caucasus by arming Armenia.

Azerbaijan and Armenia have fought two wars over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Baku reclaimed the enclave in September after a lightning offensive against Armenian separatists who had controlled it for three decades.

Armenia and Azerbaijan had said a comprehensive peace agreement could be signed by the end of the year, but internationally mediated negotiations between the ex-Soviet republics have made little progress.

Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan have met on several occasions for talks under the mediation of the European Union.

But in October, Aliyev refused to attend negotiations with Pashinyan in Spain, over what he said was France's "biased position".

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had been set to mediate the talks along with European Council President Charles Michel.

Home to a large Armenian diaspora, France has been routinely accused by Azerbaijan of pro-Armenian bias over the Caucasus countries' territorial conflict.

(FRANCE 24 with Reuters, AFP)

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS