With a Russia-brokered truce between Armenia and Azerbaijan continuing to hold in the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, French President Emmanuel Macron says he is ready to help build a lasting and balanced solution for all sides in the conflict.
The peace deal, announced early on November 10, came after Azerbaijani forces made major battlefield gains in and around Nagorno-Karabakh. Three previous cease-fires signed since fighting broke out again on September 27 had failed to hold.
While ending fighting that has killed more than 2,000 soldiers and civilians on both sides, the deal has been rejected by many Armenians because it allows Azerbaijan to keep a sizable chunk of the small mountain region, along with the surrounding areas captured during the fighting.
The deal includes the deployment of 2,000 Russian peacekeepers in the region.
France, part of the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) -- co-chaired by Russia, France, and the United States -- has found itself somewhat sidelined by Moscow's efforts in the conflict.
While Macron has been careful not to back one side or the other in the dispute, he also has to be wary with some 400,000 to 600,000 people of Armenian origin living in France.
"The President expressed his satisfaction with the end of the fighting, recalled his friendship for Armenia and its people as well as his readiness to build a fair, lasting and acceptable political solution for all parties in Nagorno-Karabakh," the French presidency said in a statement detailing a call with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian late on November 12
Speaking on November 13, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed criticism raised in Armenia that Russia, a key ally and military supplier to Yerevan, failed to offer the country considerable support in the conflict.
“The accusation that Russia allegedly did not support Armenia enough is absolutely baseless. Russia has never abandoned its commitments as part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization. Had anyone attacked Armenia, Russia would do everything to protect its ally,” Peskov said.
Downed Russian Helicopter
Peskov also said that Russia has accepted Baku’s apology over the downing of a Russian military helicopter that left two crewmembers dead and one injured.
"The instant reaction of the Azerbaijanis, the instant reaction of the Azerbaijani president, and the declared readiness of Azerbaijan to carry out an impartial inquiry into the circumstances and to punish the culprits allowed [Moscow] to accept those apologies," Peskov said in an interview with Russian-government funded TV network RT.
Earlier, Azerbaijan said the comment made by Azerbaijani Ambassador to Russia Polad Bulbuloglu concerning the November 9 incident was “inappropriate." Buldbuloglu had said that "War is war, anything can happen."
“This case cannot do harm to the relations between Azerbaijan and Russia," Azerbaijani presidential aide and head of the presidential administration's foreign policy department Hikmet Hajiyev said in a statement.
Efforts by the OSCE Minsk Group to resolve the conflict have failed to bring any results since 1992.