Azerbaijan slams French 'interference' on Nagorno-Karabakh
August 31, 2023 06:04 PM
Azerbaijan summoned France's ambassador Thursday and condemned its "direct interference" in Nagorno-Karabakh after several French councils sent a humanitarian aid convoy to blockaded Armenians in the enclave.
Baku has been accused of blocking the Lachin corridor -- the only road link between the enclave and Armenia -- since December, cutting off Armenian-populated settlements in the disputed breakaway region.
Azerbaijan said it had set up checkpoints on the short mountainous road for "security reasons", while Yerevan has demanded that the UN intervene to prevent a "humanitarian catastrophe".
On Wednesday, several French politicians, including Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, joined a 10-lorry humanitarian convoy financed by French local councils, which was stopped from entering the enclave.
Hidalgo wrote on X (formerly Twitter) that "no humanitarian aid can get into" Nagorno-Karabakh "in total violation of human rights". "This is a humanitarian crisis," she insisted.
The stand-off has riled Azerbaijan, which summoned the French ambassador Thursday.
"The ambassador received a note of protest over vehicles being sent to the Lachin border post... under the cover of 'a humanitarian convoy'," Baku said in a statement.
It also condemned the "provocative declarations (of French politicians) against Azerbaijan", which they said were stirred up by a "campaign of lies and manipulation by Armenia", a historic French ally.
"This constitutes direct French interference in Azerbaijan's internal affairs," it added.
The Caucasus neighbours have been locked in a deadly dispute over the enclave -- internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan -- since the 1980s and fought two wars over the territory.
The second, in 2020, saw the defeat of Armenian forces and significant territorial gains for Azerbaijan.
Faced with international criticism, Baku insists that the Lachin corridor is not blocked to civilians, and said earlier this week that it was itself sending an aid convoy to Nagorno-Karabakh.