BAKU: Tensions between Azerbaijan and France escalated as Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry declared two diplomats from the French embassy persona non grata, citing actions deemed “incompatible with their diplomatic status.” The move, announced on Tuesday, follows a summons to the French ambassador, Anne Boillon, during which Azerbaijan expressed a “strong protest over the actions” of the two diplomats.
The decision to expel the French diplomats comes against a backdrop of strained relations between the two nations, with Azerbaijan accusing France of displaying bias in favor of Armenia during European-mediated peace talks.
In November, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev publicly accused France of exacerbating conflicts in the Caucasus by supplying arms to Armenia. The longstanding tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia have roots in the dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
A significant development in the region occurred in September when Baku successfully reclaimed control of Nagorno-Karabakh after a swift offensive against Armenian separatists who had held the enclave for three decades. Despite hopes for a comprehensive peace agreement by the end of the year, negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, mediated by the European Union, have made limited progress.
Strain Diplomatic Relations Between Azerbaijan and France
The strained diplomatic relations between Azerbaijan and France were evident in October when President Aliyev refused to attend negotiations with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in Spain. Aliyev attributed his decision to what he perceived as France’s “biased position” in the matter. The talks were set to be mediated by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, along with European Council President Charles Michel.
Azerbaijan, critical of France’s stance, has routinely accused the country of pro-Armenian bias, particularly concerning the territorial conflict in the Caucasus.