The victory of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian in the general elections which have just taken place in Armenia has allowed him to resume his functions with a large and solid majority.
→ THE FACTS. In Armenia, the final victory of Prime Minister Nikol Pachinian
Rather moderate and pragmatic in nature, Pachinian has found himself in the past having to make concessions to his own “ultras” whose only vision for their nation is isolation coupled with eternal grievances against Turkey. Armenia is now at a crossroads. Will the country continue to pursue its historic self-destructive program of regional isolation, or will it embark on the path of peace and reconciliation?
A lasting peace is still not settled
On this question, France has an important duty to fulfill. For nearly three decades, our country has occupied one of the three co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group: it was tasked, alongside Russia and the United States, to enable a peaceful resolution of the military occupation. Armenian Karabakh, an important area of Azerbaijan. The diplomatic failure of this group was one of the factors in the war between the two neighbors, which ended last year with the restoration of Azerbaijani sovereignty. But a lasting peace is still not settled, and France now has the opportunity to act.
→ PORTRAIT. Nikol Pachinian, Armenian Prime Minister, humanist and “straight in his boots”
The stake is not only the future of the South Caucasus, but also the international reputation of France as an intermediary. In recent years and months, we can assume that the effectiveness of the lobby of the Armenian diaspora, well organized in our territory, may have weakened the capacity of our country to fulfill its role of impartial mediator. Meanwhile, the United States has pursued a neutral and balanced agenda – one month formally recognizing the Armenian genocide, the following month attempting to persuade Armenia to hand over the maps of the vast areas of landmines that are the tragic legacy of its occupation of Karabakh.
France must rebalance its approach to the region
France must now seek to rebalance its approach to the region. In doing so, it has a major asset: its unwavering support for Armenia has given it a certain influence in Yerevan, and it is this lever that France must now use. The French have a long and bitter experience of conflicts with their neighbors, but they also know that economic cooperation and shared prosperity can overcome the most traumatic episodes in history. Encouraging and supporting cross-border economic cooperation must now become a priority of French policy in the South Caucasus.
For the moment, the Armenian economy remains paralyzed. Three of its four international borders are closed to trade – with Turkey, Azerbaijan and even its sister nation, Christian Georgia. Only the fourth – with Iran – is open. In the north, Armenia remains extremely dependent on a Russia whose interests are best served by keeping Armenia vulnerable and dependent. The time has come to normalize the South Caucasus, reopen borders and restore vital transport links.
Securing the economic foundations for lasting peace
Besides the important question of France’s diplomatic reputation, French direct economic interests are at stake. The South Caucasus, so long held back by the Karabakh problem, can now move forward. The investment opportunity in the region – especially in the devastated Karabakh territory itself – is enormous, with Azerbaijan’s powerful economy ensuring the reestablishment of vital infrastructure to enable the return of a million internal refugees to their homes. native country. Mines, agriculture, green energy, transport, tourism: these are just a few of the many sectors that currently welcome international investment. France can at the same time restore its credibility as an independent mediator, contribute to securing the economic bases of a lasting peace and promote the commercial interests of French companies in the region.
So far, Armenia has sent negative or, at best, ambiguous signals to its neighbors. It is in France’s interest to encourage Armenia to emerge from isolation. The key to unlocking the region’s potential lies in Yerevan, and Yerevan is listening to Paris. Through its political, diplomatic and economic channels, it is time for Paris to make its voice heard.