French presidential candidate and chairman of the council of the Île-de-France region, Valerie Pecresse, filed a law enforcement complaint against Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev because of his threats of “reprisal,” informs Europe radio station 1.
The scandal began after Pekress’s trip to Armenia on December 20-23, accompanied by former European Commissioner Michel Barnier and head of the “Republicans” faction Bruno Retaio. On December 23, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry handed a note of protest to the Chargé d’Affaires of France, as says in the message, “in connection with the illegal visit of French presidential candidate Valerie Pecresse to the Azerbaijani city of Khankendi [Степанакерт]”. They also said that they blacklisted Pekress and her accompanying persons.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said in an interview with local publications on January 12 that Valerie Pekress entered Nagorno-Karabakh in secret. He stated that if he had known about the trip earlier, he would not have let her out of there. “They secretly went there and arrived, and the news of their visit came out only after their return. They probably feared that we would detain them in the Lachin corridor,” added he.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, answering questions from MPs on January 18, said that Ilham Aliyev’s statements were “unacceptable in form and substance.” As the head of the department said, he expects that from now on French parliamentarians and officials will inform the authorities about their visits.
The next day at his words answered Press Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan Leyla Abdullayeva. She called Le Drian’s comment “irresponsible and in an unacceptable way”. She believes that he “violated diplomatic traditions.”
According to her, Pekress’s candidacy for the presidency of France does not give her the privilege to violate the laws of Azerbaijan. She also added that “in case of illegal entry of foreign citizens into the territory of Azerbaijan, measures are taken against them either in an administrative manner or in accordance with the country’s Criminal Code.”
The armed conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh escalated sharply at the end of September 2020. In a month and a half, Azerbaijan managed to conquer several regions of Karabakh and take the city of Shusha (in Armenian Shushi), the ancient capital of Karabakh. The day after the capture of Shusha, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a peace agreement to end the war in the region.
For Armenia and Azerbaijan, according to the terms of the agreement, today the territories where the troops were located at the time of signing the agreement are assigned, and a peacekeeping mission of Russia is located along the line of contact. According to the maps of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, Russian peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh are deployed in the areas of responsibility “South” and “North”. The first includes the territories adjacent to the settlements of Stepanakert, Aghdam and Lachin. The second is in the northern parts of the Terter and Aghdam regions, as well as in the village of Mardakert. The Russian peacekeeping contingent in Karabakh consists of 1,960 military personnel, 90 armored personnel carriers, 380 vehicles and special equipment. It is based on units of the 15th separate motorized rifle brigade of the Central Military District.
Before that, the territorial dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh had been going on since the late 1980s. During the armed conflict of 1988-1994, 30 thousand people died in the separatist region, more than a hundred thousand became refugees and internally displaced persons.