Armenia: “A new war of occupation is coming to the gates of Europe”

Tribune published in Le Monde on 10 October 2022

In an article published in “Le Monde”, intellectuals and politicians including Clémentine Autain, François-Xavier Bellamy, Valérie Boyer, Annette Becker and Olivier Faure express their alarm at Europe’s passivity in the face of Azerbaijan’s offensive on the Republic of Armenia. 

Creator: Stepan Poghosyan, Credits: AP
Copyright: PHOTOLURE

On September 13, Azerbaijan launched a multi-directional offensive against the territory of the Republic of Armenia. This event went almost unnoticed by the general public in France, and this is precisely what the ruling power in Azerbaijan was counting on.

However, this is indeed a sign of a new war of conquest at the gates of Europe if the international community does not react immediately with all necessary firmness.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have been divided over the status of the High Karabakh region since the end of the Soviet Union – a territory whose Armenian majority lives under the permanent threat of ethnic cleansing. But what is happening there today is nothing less than the military aggression of an over-armed despot against a small, fragile democracy, in order to extort total submission to his country’s geo-strategic ambitions.

Buoyed by his strategic partnership with Russia – which is on a closer level than the better-known one linking Armenia to Russia – as well as his close alliance with Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey, and galvanized by his desire to enslave Armenia, Ilham Aliyev is trampling on the all-too-fragile prospects of peace and justice in the South Caucasus. In the space of just 48 hours, the Azerbaijan president’s recent operation left nearly 300 dead on both sides, with thousands of Armenian civilians displaced.

War Crimes

It is already proudly displaying its first round of war crimes on the Web, thanks to Azerbaijani military personnel who filmed themselves as they went about raping, torturing and dismembering. The ultra-violence encouraged by the regime raises fears for the worst, according to the respected Lemkin Institute for the Prevention of Genocide, which is issuing its third alert in less than a year.

This makes the pretext of “Armenian provocations” invoked by Aliyev to justify military operations and mobilise an Azerbaijani society that has been fed with ‘Armenophobia’ for decades and where dissent is brutally repressed all the more grotesque and odious.

The objectives of the aggression against Armenia are twofold.

First, to forcefully obtain an extraterritorial ‘corridor’ linking Azerbaijan to its enclave in Nakhichevan across the border, bordering Turkey and Iran – a ‘corridor’ that Russia would control. The point of contention between Armenia and Azerbaijan is not the opening of transport routes, which would in principle benefit the whole region, but the demand that Armenia be excluded from any control over this “corridor” and thus cut off from its vital border with Iran.

Armenia, a landlocked country no bigger than Belgium, has only two open borders: one to the north with Georgia, which may be forced to close it in the event of a regional conflagration, as was the case during the 2020 war; and one to the south with Iran, some 30 kilometres long.

Irredentist rhetoric

The other two – with Azerbaijan to the east and southwest, and with Turkey to the west – have been hermetically sealed since 1991. The interests of Azerbaijan, Turkey and Russia are therefore converging in order to take Armenia in its stranglehold and force it to abdicate its already severely limited sovereignty.

The second objective is consubstantial with the first: to nibble away at the neighbour weakened by its massive defeat in 2020 by betting on the policy of the fait accompli for the future delimitation of the borders between the two states. To do this, advance militarily into Armenian territory, in order to create at least a buffer zone several kilometres deep on the current contact line between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The groundwork for this was laid in May and November 2021 with the first advances in the north, east and south of Armenia, and is being deepened with the operations on 13 and 14 September 2022.

Azerbaijani troops have managed to take advantageous strategic positions that give them the possibility of conquering southern Armenia in a few hours; Yerevan, the Armenian capital, in a few days.

This possibility has been carefully prepared by the reactivation, since the end of the 2020 war, of irredentist rhetoric on the part of Aliev, who shamelessly covets as much of the neighbour’s territory as he can swallow. This rhetoric has long been anchored in the regime’s racist ideology, since as early as 2012, Aliyev stigmatised the sovereign Republic of Armenia as ‘a colony, an outpost directed from outside’ by a ‘lobby’, and as ‘an artificially created territory on former Azerbaijani lands’.

Europe's Tartuffery

Why is Europe, which rightly refuses to compromise with Ukraine’s aggressor, looking on so passively at the brutal aggression of another developing democracy?

At the end of July, Aliyev conveniently obtained a blank check from the European Commission in the form of a gas agreement providing for the doubling of gas deliveries to Europe – a “reliable and dependable partner”, in the words of Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

This is shamelessly cynical, given the type of regime that Aliev embodies and that has ruled with an iron fist in Baku for almost twenty years. His record of oppression of civil society and minorities, repression of individual freedoms and corruption, both within the country and abroad, and even in Europe, is second only to that of his Kremlin counterpart.

The tartuffery of this moral posture is all the more appreciated given that this surplus gas sold by Azerbaijan will come from an operation partly owned by the Russian company Lukoil. To effectively accompany the discussions between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which continued in Prague on 6 October, requires a courageous commitment and the establishment of tangible mechanisms on the part of France and Europe.

Genocidal ambitions

Coming from different backgrounds but all aware of the weight of history and alarmed by the foreseeable consequences of European cynicism, we, intellectuals and politicians from all walks of life, ask the French government and the President of the Republic to deepen France’s efforts and make its voice heard unanimously to demand:

– The withdrawal of Azerbaijani armed forces from the internationally recognised territory of Armenia and the return to the positions held before May 2021;

– The dispatch of a monitoring and observation mission to guarantee the informal ceasefire of 15 September between Armenia and Azerbaijan and to sanction any breaches. The establishment of ceasefire compliance mechanisms, identification of violations and graduated sanctions;

– The immediate freezing of the assets of the Aliyev clan, whose huge revenues from personal oil hoarding allow for huge military spending and the widely documented corruption of European elites;

– The denunciation of Azerbaijan’s gas supply agreements with Europe, which undermine the willingness of European countries to obstruct the territorial, if not genocidal, ambitions of the Azerbaijani leadership;

– Serious consideration of military support for Armenia, including arming Armenian fighters engaged in such an unequal struggle for their country’s survival.

The signatories

Clémentine Autain, députée, La France insoumise (LFI) ; Annette Becker, historienne, université Paris-Nanterre ; François-Xavier Bellamy, député européen, Les Républicains (LR) ; Valérie Boyer, sénatrice, LR ; Laurence Burgorgue-Larsen, professeure de droit public, université Panthéon-Sorbonne ; Jean-Marc Dreyfus, historien, université de Manchester ; Olivier Faure, député, Parti socialiste ; Arnaud Le Gall, député, LFI ; Nicolas Offenstadt, historien, université Panthéon-Sorbonne ; Pierre Ouzoulias, sénateur, Parti communiste français (PCF) ; Taline Papazian, politologue, Sciences Po Aix ; Claudine Tiercelin, philosophe, Collège de France.

Signatories as of 10 October 2022

  • Nadège Abomangoli, députée, LFI
  • Boris Adjémian, historien, Bibliothèque Nubar
  • Cengiz Aktar, professeur de science politique
  • Gabriel  Amard,  député, LFI
  • Farida Amrani, députée, LFI
  • Rodrigo Arenas, député , LFI
  • Manon Aubry, députée européenne, LFI
  • Ugo Bernalicis,  député, LFI
  • Christophe Bex, député, LFI
  • Carlos Martens Bilongo, député, LFI
  • Manuel Bompard, député, LFI
  • Christophe Bouton, philosophe, Université de Bordeaux
  • Louis Boyard, député, LFI
  • Raphaëlle Branche, historienne, Université Paris-Nanterre
  • Sylvie Brodziak, professeure de littérature, Université de Cergy
  • Laurence Campa, professeure de littérature, Université Paris-Nanterre
  • Sylvain Carrière, député, LFI
  • Florian Chauche, député, LFI
  • Jean-Michel Chaumont, philosophe et sociologue, Université Catholique de Louvain
  • Sophia Chikirou ,député, LFI
  • Eric Ciotti, député
  • Hadrien Clouet, député, LFI
  • Éric Coquerel, député, LFI
  • Catherine Coquio, professeure de littérature comparée, Université Paris-Cité
  • Alexis Corbière, député, LFI
  • Christelle D’Intorni, députée, LR
  • Sébastien-Victor Delogu ,député, LFI
  • Alma Dufour, députée, LFI
  • Karen Erodi, députée, LFI
  • Alexandre Escudier, historien, CEVIPOF
  • Selim Eskiizmirliler, chercheur en neurosciences, Université Paris Cité
  • Martine Etienne,  députée, LFI
  • Remi Feraud, député
  • Emmanuel Fernandes, député, LFI
  • Caroline Fiat, deputée, LFI
  • Raquel Garrido, députée, LFI
  • Clémence Guette, députée, LFI
  • David Guiraud, député, LFI
  • Thomas Hochmann Professeur de droit public, Université Paris-Nanterre
  • Sophie Hohmann Sociologie, INALCO
  • Philippe Huneman, philosophe
  • Chantal Jaquet, philosophe, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne
  • Philippe Jarne, chercheur en biologie, CNRS, Montpellier
  • Hubert Julien-Laferrière, députée, EELV
  • Raymond Kevorkian, historien
  • Razmig Keucheyan, sociologue
  • Stefan Kristensen, philosophe, Université de Strasbourg
  • Anouch Kunth, historienne, CNRS
  • Maxime Laisney, député, LFI
  • Antoine Léaumont, député, LFI
  • Elise Leboucher, députée, LFI
  • Jean-Paul Lecoq, député, PCF
  • Sarah Legrain, députée, LFI
  • Murielle Lepvraud, députée, LFI
  • Françoise Longy, philosophe, Université Strasbourg
  • Ariane Mak, historienne, Université Paris-Cité
  • Chowra Makaremi, anthropologue, CNRS
  • André Markowicz, traducteur et poète
  • Elisa Martin, députée, LFI
  • Pascale Martin, députée, LFI
  • Marianne Maximi, députée, LFI
  • Aude Merlin, politologue, Université Libre de Bruxelles
  • Claire Mouradian, historienne, directrice de recherches émérite, CNRS 
  • Nathalie Oziol, députée, LFI
  • Florent Parmentier, Secrétaire général du Cevipof, Sciences Po
  • Hervé Perdry 
  • François Piquemal, député, LFI
  • Thomas Portes, député, LFI
  • Thomas Pradeu, philosophe, CNRS, Bordeaux
  • Loïc Prud’homme, député, LFI
  • Bruno Retailleau, sénateur, LR 
  • Sébastien Rome, député , LFI
  • Fabien Roussel, député
  • Arnaud Saint-Martin, sociologue et conseiller municipal à Melun, LFI
  • Aurélien Saintoul, deputé, LFI
  • Isabelle Santiago, députée, PS
  • Sabrina Sebaihi, députée EELV
  • Danielle Simonnet, députée, LFI
  • Ersilia Soudais, députée, LFI
  • Anne Stambach-Terroir, deputée, LFI
  • Andrée Taurinya, deputée, LFI
  • Matthias Tavel, député, LFI
  • Rachid Temal, député
  • Aurélie Trouvé, députée, LFI
  • Boris Vallaud, député, PS
  • Paul Vannier, député, LFI
  • Michel Veuille, professeur, biologiste, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes
  • Bernard Walliser, economiste, Université Paris-Jourdan
  • Léo Walter, député, LFI
  • Julien Zarifian , géopoliticien, professeur, Université de Poitiers
  • Stéphane Zékian, historien de la littérature, CNRS

New signatories

  • Herman Akdag, professeur émérite, Université Paris 8
  • Vahé Abrahamyan, cadreur cinéma
  • Anne Elisabeth Andréassian
  • Florence Angliviel, ingénieur commercial 
  • Michael Alacahan, logisticien
  • Antoine Bagdikian, président anciens combattants arméniens
  • Jean-Marc Bardet 
  • Fabienne Bailly, retraitée de l’enseignement
  • André Bajot
  • Christian Baudeau
  • Berchaud, retraitée de l’éducation nationale
  • André Bajot
  • David Becker, chef d’entreprise
  • Frederique Berchaud
  • Cécile Birks
  • Pierre Bonin
  • Rosine Boyadjian
  • Hamit Bozarslan
  • Claire Boccon-Gibod, orthophoniste
  • Pierre Bonin
  • Hans Bosma, professeur
  • Georges Bourgueil, libraire
  • Sara Boillot, coach
  • Clotilde Boisvert
  • Bruno Brunetti, musicien
  • Hamit Bozarslan, Directeur d’études, EHESS
  • Séta Bibérian, fondatrice de l’École bilingue Hamaskaïne
  • Cécile Birks, MCF, Université Paris-Nanterre
  • Bernard Gainot
  • Laurent Cantagrel, traducteur
  • Estelle Castays-Zivec, coach pour adultes TDA/H
  • Jean Ceccaldi, auteur de polars
  • Stéphane Cermakian, maître de conférences en études arméniennes, Aix-Marseille Université
  • May-Brit Chiappinelli, coach
  • Dimitri Choueiry
  • Dominique Colas, professeur émérite en science politique
  • Eric Dadian, president AFRC
  • Grégoire Davoudian
  • Pierre Paul Delvaux
  • Anouche Der Sarkissian, Université Paris-Nanterre
  • Anne Deruy
  • Etienne Drouard, avocat au Barreau de Paris
  • Gilbert-Luc Devinaz
  • Philippe de Peretti, universitaire
  • Bernard Delvaux, médecin anesthésiste-réanimateur
  • Anto Deluchat
  • Michel Dévoluy, professeur honoraire, économiste
  • Laurence Dubois, maîtresse de conférences en études anglophones, Université Paris Nanterre
  • Michel Gheude
  • Marie Hebting
  • Patrick Donabédian, enseignant-chercheur émérite, Aix-Marseille Université
  • Taniel Doniguian
  • Jean-Paul Elmassian
  • Marianne Farkas, retraitée
  • Sylvia Fozzani, retraitée
  • Boris Gabriels
  • Alexandra Garbarini, historienne, Williams College
  • Nadine Garabedian
  • Becker Georges, opticien
  • Bernard Giansetto
  • Jean-Pierre Gitany, citoyen
  • Agnieszka Grudzinska, professeur émérite, Lettres Sorbonne Université
  • Myriam Gurland
  • Charles Heimberg, historien, Université de Genève
  • Annette Hovnanian, retraitée
  • André Hervier
  • Pascal Huette, ingénieur réseaux informatiques
  • Sylvie Juan, employée
  • Aurelia Kalisky, chercheuse, Centre Marc Bloch Berlin
  • Rosie Karapetian, pilote du Processus P2P
  • Niu Karakachian
  • Carole Karam
  • Elyane Kizilian, retraitée
  • Thomas Kurkdjian, entrepreneur
  • Michèle Lardy, maître de conférences, Université Paris1 Panthéon Sorbonne
  • Madeleine Lardy, retraitée 
  • Jean-Claude Lamiaux, technicien territorial
  • Justine Landau, maître de conférences, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle
  • Véronique Letocart
  • Jean-Charles Lefrancois, cuisinier
  • Bernard Legras
  • Franck Lemonde, enseignant
  • Sarah Leperchey
  • Yves Maire du Poset, consultant, essayiste
  • Nelly Mart, docteur en histoire de l’art
  • Jean Martel
  • Vahan Mardirossian
  • Jacqueline Mahdessian
  • Gérard Malkassian, professeur de philosophie
  • Naïd Mubalegh, doctorante, philosophie des sciences & biologie
  • Fionq McIntosh-Varjabédian, professeur, Université de Lille
  • Anouche Merdjanian, conseil en stratégie
  • Alexis Midol-Monnet
  • Michael Midoun, professeur d’anglais
  • Aida Mouradian, pianiste
  • Gayané Movsisyan, chanteuse lyrique
  • Philippe Nérin, président de la SATT AxLR
  • Marcel et Sylviane Nerin, retraité, fonctionnaire du publc
  • Alexis Nuselovici, professeur de littérature comparée
  • Nara Nzaryan, guide
  • Gina Okmen, collaboratrice groupe parlementaire LFI
  • René Olivier, biologiste, psychologue
  • Asmik Oudry, entrepreneur
  • Dominique Ouy, prépatrice en commandes
  • Erol Ozkoray, politologue, romancier
  • Stepan Petrossian, managing partner OLMA
  • Claire Pignol
  • Philippe Poux, entrepreneur
  • Leticia Ponce, mediathécaire
  • Céline Richez
  • Dalita Roger, universitaire
  • Jean-gilles Romero
  • Guillaume Rousset
  • Balaian S., responsable d’insertion
  • Sasun Saugy, consultant transformation numérique
  • Suzanne Senelkary, activiste ESG
  • Edith Sénellart, cadre infirmier
  • Mariam Shahinyan, assistante de la direction CCI France Arménie
  • Luciné Simonian, artiste-peintre et pianiste
  • Anahit Simonian, compositeur cinéaste
  • Félix Simonian, compositeur, violoncelliste
  • Thierry Sokil, retraité
  • Nicholas Sowels
  • Grégoire Stamboulian, professeur , Lycée Dumont d’Urville de Toulon
  • Laure Stamboulian, chômeuse
  • Brigitte Stora, autrice
  • Sandra Surmenian, citoyenne
  • Sylvie Taufer, pensionnée
  • Jean-luc Thibault
  • Myriam Tsikounas
  • Bruno Turbe, avocat
  • Yann Valains
  • Bertrand Venard, professeur
  • Marie Vibert, consultante voyages caucase
  • Luc Wouters
  • Janiec Vincent Zakarian
  • Maral Zakarian Maralakarian
  • Vanuhi Zoroyan, gestion hôtelière