In a strong rebuttal against the French military and other supporters of Armenia, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan described the plan to arm Armenia as provocative.
“What France is doing is a provocation. It should know that it is not doing Armenia a favor but the opposite. France has given Armenia a lot of support in the past. What result did they get? None,” Erdogan was quoted as saying.
The statement comes at a time when Azerbaijan and Armenia have agreed to build confidence and mutually work towards a peace deal. For this, the two sides have agreed to exchange prisoners of war (POWs) taken during the recent hostilities in the Nogorono-Karabakh region.
However, the military partnership forged between France and Armenia has not gone down well with Turkey. Firing his verbal shots, Erdogan emphasized that France was part of the now Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group on Nagorno-Karabakh, which works towards ensuring a peaceful resolution of conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
“There is no result [from the group’s work], and in such a situation, it provokes Armenia again. There will be no result from sending armored personnel carriers [there]. Because now, there is Azerbaijan, which has ended the occupation of its territory. The result of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh is obvious,” Erdogan said without mincing words.
He further added, “The Armenian leadership should learn the lessons of the recent past and not go for these provocations. It is in Armenia’s interest to seize the opportunity for peace and not to fall into the trap of countries that mislead Armenia. Peaceful relations with Azerbaijan is the best option for Armenia. Those who put weapons in Armenia’s hands are doing Armenia a disservice.”
Earlier, Erdogan had chastised Western nations harshly for arming Armenia, though he did not name them. He also urged Armenia to expeditiously conclude a peace accord with Azerbaijan. The statement made by Erdogan is significant, given that Ankara has been arming Baku to the teeth in its fight against Yerevan.
Having said that, Erdogan may not be the only one who has been displeased with French military assistance to Armenia. Earlier this week, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a press briefing that the French Bastion armored vehicles that are being transferred to Armenia will not help the country.
“As for France and these Bastion armored vehicles – they are illiquid. This is obvious even from the situation unfolding in the context of the special military operation, I commented on this in detail at the briefing on November 22,” she said. This follows complaints that Russia, which is the primary ally of Armenia, hasn’t been able to deliver the ordered arms despite the purchase going through.
“Now, regarding that statement of the Armenian Defense Ministry that you quoted about the need to solve problems in concert, we can only welcome this. As [we] understand, the Russian Defense Ministry has a similar mindset,” she said.
However, the vacuum left by Russian arms has essentially been filled by countries like France and India, who have stepped up to arm Armenia in what has been seen as a reset in their respective foreign policies.
France & India Arm Armenia
Armenia has been seeking to diversify its arms imports and find new allies after Russia failed to provide the country with ordered weapons worth around US $400 million. This has forced the country to seek other viable options to procure its military supplies.
French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna, during her visit to Armenia’s capital, Yerevan, on October 3, said: “France has given its consent to sign a future contract with Armenia, which will enable the provision of military equipment to Armenia so that Armenia can ensure its defense, it is clear that I cannot elaborate on this issue for now.”
As part of the strengthening military relations between the two countries, parliamentarians in France have announced that they will be sending 50 Bastion armored personnel carriers to Armenia. Although no delivery has been confirmed by Yerevan, the Armenian news site Armenpress reported earlier this week that France had already delivered 24 Bastion armored vehicles.
In one of the agreements signed between France and Armenia, the latter is also anticipated to buy three air defense radar systems from Thales, a French defense company. Not just that, the two sides also signed a “letter of intent” on the future delivery of Mistral short-range surface-to-air missiles.
According to France’s Ministry of the Armed Forces, a second contract was for Yerevan to acquire night vision goggles and equipment manufactured by Safran.
A report published in local French media also indicated that France could supply 50 VAB MK3 armored vehicles manufactured by Renault Trucks Defense. It provides armed forces with high-level protection and multi-mission capabilities.
Meanwhile, in 2022, India inked the deal to supply PINAKA multi-barrel rocket launchers (MBRL), anti-tank munitions, and ammunition worth US $250 million to Armenia; it was seen as New Delhi taking a position in the conflict. It was the first export of PINAKA by India.
As previously reported by EurAsian Times, Armenia also contracted to buy India-developed Zen Anti-Drone System (ZADS), which is a Counter Unmanned Aerial System (CUAS).
This would come in handy for Yerevan’s forces, which are often fighting the cutting-edge Turkish drones like the TB2 Bayraktar that Baku has extensively deployed in the conflict.
In a recent statement, President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan issued a warning to France and India, stating that arming Armenia with weaponry he considers dangerous could lead to the outbreak of a new conflict in the region.
Azerbaijan “will have to react to protect its people” should Armenia start receiving “serious installations” from France and India, Aliyev told a conference in Baku, saying he’d already given advance warning to “everybody.
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