France to supply arms to Armenia with future contracts

France to supply arms to Armenia with future contracts
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France's Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna, during her visit to Armenia, has announced future military equipment supply contracts to bolster the country's defenses amidst concerns over the Nagorno-Karabakh situation and Azerbaijani military actions.

France's Foreign Minister, Catherine Colonna, announced on Tuesday that France has agreed on future contracts to supply military equipment to Armenia, to bolster Armenia's defense capabilities as tensions in the region escalate.

Colonna's visit to Armenia marks the first trip by a Western government minister to the country since Azerbaijani forces captured Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway ethnic Armenian region within Azerbaijan, in a rapid military operation on September 20th. The capture of Nagorno-Karabakh had raised concerns about Armenia's security and stability, leading to an influx of refugees from the region into Armenia.

During a live-streamed joint press conference with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Catherine Colonna expressed her concerns and emphasized France's commitment to Armenia's territorial integrity. She also revealed that she had asked European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell to include Armenia in the scope of the European Peace Facility (EPF), an EU military aid fund.

"France will be vigilant regarding the territorial integrity of Armenia," Colonna stated during the press conference. "I hope that (EU) member states will send a clear signal to all those who would be tempted to call into question the sovereignty of Armenia."

However, Colonna did not provide specific details about the nature of military aid that France plans to provide to Armenia under the future supply contracts.

France and its Western allies have expressed concern over Armenia's vulnerability following what appears to be Russia's diminishing support in recent weeks. The Nagorno-Karabakh issue is a sensitive one in France, as it is home to a substantial population of people of Armenian origin, estimated to be between 400,000 and 600,000, who hold significant influence, especially during election periods.

France has already extended humanitarian aid to Armenia, providing 12.5 million euros ($13.08 million) to support those affected by the crisis. French officials have also voiced support for the idea of imposing European Union sanctions on Baku. However, within the EU, there is some reluctance to impose sanctions just a year after the bloc agreed on a major energy deal to reduce reliance on Russian supplies following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but had been governed as a breakaway ethnic Armenian statelet since the 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union. France's commitment to supplying military equipment underscores its dedication to supporting Armenia during these challenging times in the South Caucasus region.