France to open consular office in border town amidst concerns of Azerbaijani expansion
France has announced significant measures to bolster its support for Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, including the opening of a consular office in Armenia's southern province of Syunik and the allocation of an additional 7 million euros in aid, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said during a Q&A session in the Parliament on Wednesday.
An influential telegram channel linked to Karabakh Armenians called "Re:public of Artsakh" earlier said that the next target of Azerbaijan was Syunik, a province in southern Armenia through which a trade corridor between Turkey and Azerbaijan would pass. Azerbaijani leader Ilham Aliyev earlier lamented that Soviet-era authorities had deemed part of what he said should have been territory belonging to the Azerbaijani Soviet republic as land belonging to the Armenian Soviet republic.
"The land link between the main part of Azerbaijan and Nakhchivan (the exclave) was thus cut off," complained Aliyev.
"No country, not a single one, helps Armenia as much as we do," Minister Colonna emphasized, underscoring France's commitment to the region. She pointed out that all UN Security Council meetings related to the situation in Armenia have been convened at France's initiative.
Furthermore, Colonna highlighted France's active involvement in humanitarian efforts, stating, "Since the beginning of the year, our ministry has allocated more than 5 million euros to the Armenian population of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. I have decided, taking into account the events of recent days, to further increase this aid by an additional 7 million euros."
The French Minister of Foreign Affairs also revealed the strengthening of defense relations between France and Armenia. "The defense attaché will be present at the French embassy in Yerevan. Then, we will soon open a consular office in Syunik province, near the border. So, I think these are tangible proofs that France stands firmly alongside Armenia," she stated.
Colonna stressed the urgency of providing support to preserve Armenia's territorial integrity and safeguard the displaced people from Nagorno-Karabakh. She announced France's intention to take various initiatives at the national level, bilaterally with Armenia, within the United Nations as a permanent member of the Security Council, and within the European Union.
"France will take initiatives in the coming days at the national level, at the bilateral level with Armenia, at the United Nations as a permanent member of the Security Council, and within the European Union," Colonna declared, underlining France's proactive approach to addressing the ongoing challenges in the region.
In closing, Colonna called for increased engagement from the European Union and the international community, emphasizing the importance of collective action to ensure the territorial integrity of Armenia and the right of Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh to live in peace.