Three reasons why French far-right follows in Aganbegyan's footsteps

Marine Le Pen wants to annex Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia
Marine Le Pen wants to annex Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia

The leader of the French nationalists, president of the National Front party Marine Le Pen in an interview with Nouvelles d'Arménie called for attaching Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia. Such a position of Le Pen, who aspires to become the next president of France - the co-chair country of the OSCE Minsk Group, seemed unexpected at first glance. If we assume that Marine Le Pen is elected president of the French Republic and she will actually adhere to such a position on the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement, then obviously, Azerbaijan will refuse to continue any further negotiations mediated by France. This will cast doubt on the whole peacekeeping format, and the many years of efforts by French diplomacy to achieve a compromise solution will be wasted. Such a position of Le Pen was formed for three reasons.

Reason one: money

There is no doubt that the statement was made, first of all, in the pursuit of the support of the Armenian lobby, which is extremely influential in France. The party needs money. As Le Pen admitted a couple of years ago, the National Front applied for funding to many French and European banks, but was refused everywhere. Therefore, the party has to find alternative sources of replenishment of its treasury, and a special role here is played by donations. In this sense, the National Front's desire to enlist the financial support of wealthy French Armenians is understandable. The theme of the so-called 'Armenian genocide' is no longer relevant, as France fully supports the Armenian position, so today Le Pen's loyalty in this issue does not distinguish her from competitors struggling for the presidency. It is worth recalling that during the last presidential race, Le Pen declared: "At fist we should address the issues that affect ourselves, and the French Parliament should not interfere in the Armenian-Turkish history." For this race she significantly corrected her position.

However, French Armenians can hardly be impressed by the rigid anti-Turkish rhetoric alone. The maximum that France could make is to recognize the genocide, but the problem is that it can be recognized only once. Turkey 'survived' it back in 1998. Unlike the events that took place in the Ottoman Empire 100 years ago, the Nagorno-Karabakh issue continues to be relevant, and an open support of the Armenian side can bring a real benefit to one or another French politician.

Reason two: religion

The support of Christian Armenia in the conflict with predominantly Muslim Azerbaijan completely fits into the Islamophobic political ideology of the National Front party. And the fact that the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict is ethno-territorial, not the religious one does not play any role here. Le Pen's average supporter, as a rule, thinks in terms of "us vs them" and shares the theses on the war of civilizations between Muslims and Christians, where the first ones embody absolute evil. Suffice it to recall that in 2010 Marine Le Pen compared Muslims praying in the streets to Nazi occupation of Paris.

Reason three: political irresponsibility

France's withdrawal from the number of the Minsk Group co-chairs (Azerbaijan will inevitably abandon negotiations on Nagorno-Karabakh under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group, if France stands for the annexation of the occupied region to Armenia) would be a painful blow to French diplomacy, which will be forced to cede its place in the Minsk format to the Germans, If the OSCE Minsk Group does not fall apart at all, given its place to the trilateral negotiating format of Baku-Moscow-Yerevan. It is doubtful that such a policy of France will make it "great again" or at least return as an influential player to the international arena. It is already obvious that the National Front in its foreign policy concept, if there is one, is focused on achieving short-term interests.

Photo by Wagner V.

However, another thing is also interesting. Exactly 30 years ago, in 1987, Mikhail Gorbachev's economic adviser, Abel Aganbegyan, met with a group of French Armenians at the Intercontinental Hotel in Paris. During the meeting, he offered them his vision of the resolution of the Karabakh conflict: "I would be glad if Nagorno Karabakh was returned to Armenia. As an economist, I believe that they have much closer ties with Armenia than with Azerbaijan. I have already made such a proposal, and I hope that these ideas will be implemented in the spirit of perestroika and democracy". Aganbegyan’s views were set out in the newspaper of the French communists L’Humanite. A few years later the Soviet Union collapsed - not least because of the efforts of such "nationalists-rebuilders."

Today Aganbegyan's theses were adopted by the French ultranationalists in the pursuit of donations and votes. Nagorno-Karabakh is an empty sound for them, a nook in distant Asia, which they can hardly find on the map. In contrast to Marine Le Pen and her supporters, for Armenians and Azerbaijanis, it is the territory for which they have shed blood, because of which their countries are not able to fully realize their potential. It is hoped that the two Caucasian peoples, having fully experienced the grief of the war in the last decades, have become sufficiently experienced to understand one thing: the European ultranationalists are not interested in the fate of Azeris and Armenians, and the populists will change their position on Karabakh as many times as it will be profitable for them. The Armenian Diaspora in France can support the annexation of Karabakh even to France itself, but the Azerbaijanis will not disappear because of this. Therefore, before praising Le Pen in patriotic ecstasy, it is worth remembering one uncomfortable truth: French Armenians live in elite areas of Paris, while Karabakh Armenians - in poverty and under martial law. And they will never swap places.


Vestnik Kavkaza

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