Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said his country did not want France to participate in its peace talks with Armenia. He canceled a four-way meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron and European Council Chair Charles Michel in Brussels on December 7.
Aliyev said on Friday that Macron had “attacked” and “insulted” Baku and should not act as a mediator.
Fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan flared up in September in their decades-long dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but is largely controlled by ethnic Armenians, with support from Yerevan.
Each side accused the other of triggering the recent fighting, in which Armenia said Azerbaijan had seized settlements within its borders.
A ceasefire was agreed at the end of September, and last month, the two countries agreed in Prague to allow a civilian European Union mission to be set up on their border.
On Friday, Aliyev accused Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan of trying to undermine the next phase of the talks by insisting that France must be a broker.
“Macron… attacked Azerbaijan and accused us of what we did not do,” Aliyev said in English at a conference with international representatives in Baku.
He said the French leader had taken an “anti-Azerbaijani position” and “insulted” Baku.
“It is clear that under these circumstances and with this attitude, France cannot participate in the peace process between Azerbaijan and Armenia.”
The Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that it wanted to maintain the “Prague format” of the discussions, in which Macron and Michel were involved.
A spokesperson said Azerbaijan’s claim that Yerevan had tried to interrupt peace talks “had nothing to do with reality,” Interfax news agency reported.
Macron has accused Russia of stoking tensions between Baku and Yerevan and reaffirmed his support for Armenia’s sovereignty in telephone conversations with Pashinyan.
Armenia also said on Friday that Azerbaijan had not yet responded to its latest proposals for a peace deal, which it presented at a meeting of its foreign ministers in Washington, DC, in early November.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday that Moscow, which sent 5,000 peacekeepers to the region in 2020 to reach a ceasefire following a six-week war, was ready to help broker further agreements, but there was no specific plan for a meeting of heads of state and government in Moscow.
Russia is a formal ally of Armenia but is also trying to maintain good relations with Baku and resisted demands to use armed forces to support Yerevan as part of a mutual defense pact after fighting broke out in September.