France recalls ambassador to Azerbaijan, accuses Baku of ‘damaging’ ties

France recalls ambassador to Azerbaijan, accuses Baku of ‘damaging’ ties

France on Tuesday said it had recalled for consultations the French ambassador to Azerbaijan, accusing Baku of taking actions that have damaged the bilateral relationship.

French President Emmanuel Macron (Reuters)

President Emmanuel Macron received ambassador Anne Boillon in Paris to discuss the issue, the foreign ministry said in a statement, accusing Azerbaijan of continuing “in recent months unilateral actions damaging to the relationship between our two countries”.

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Relations between Azerbaijan and France — a traditional ally of Armenia and host itself to a significant Armenian diaspora community — have long been plagued by tensions focused on the Azerbaijani region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Seized by Armenian separatists in a war as the USSR fell, Azerbaijani forces regained control of much of the region in a 2020 conflict and then the remaining part in the lightning September 2023 offensive.

Macron and other French officials have long voiced concern Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev will not stop there and has designs on Armenian territory.

In his meeting with Boillon, the French president said he “regretted Azerbaijan’s actions and expressed a wish for clarification by the Azerbaijani side of its intentions”, the foreign ministry said.

There have been attempts to move forward talks on normalising relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia but these so far have made little progress.

“France reiterates its support for the normalisation of relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia, while respecting international law and the territorial integrity of the two countries,” the ministry said.

As relations with Moscow fray, Armenia is also increasingly relying on defence cooperation with France.

In February, Armenia agreed a deal for the purchase of precision rifles from French arms manufacturer PGM, though its price tag was not disclosed.

In October 2023, France announced the sale of defence equipment — three radar systems and night vision goggles — to Armenia, provoking anger from Azerbaijan.

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