French National Commission: We could welcome Azerbaijani deminers to our schools if they wish

French National Commission: We could welcome Azerbaijani deminers to our schools if they wish
# 16 October 2021 14:00 (UTC +04:00)

Members of the French National Commission for the removal of landmines represented by members of parliament, NGOs, all actors in France for removing landmines, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defense are on the visit in Azerbaijan.

President of the Commission Ambassador Gerard Chesnel, the member of the French Parliament-National Assembly, and General Secretary of the Commission Yves Marek have revealed the aim of their visit exclusively to APA.

–What is the purpose of your visit to Azerbaijan?

General Secretary of the Commission:

– We appreciate a lot that after the conflict Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev has decided to prioritize the demining of the country. Because, we are very moved by the situation, there are a lot of casualties because of mines. Mines are terrible weapons, weapons of cowards because the dead are only civilians, children and not warriors. Then we are all engaged, and most of the international community to dispersion of this weapon, all landmines. Now it is time to remove all landmines of the territory of Azerbaijan and also to allow all the population to go back who have suffered in years and years. Because these people were displaced from Karabakh and they are all around Azerbaijan. They need, want and imagine to go back to their ancient houses if they are not destroyed and to be able to work in the field of agriculture, in the lands, if possible, to go back there.

–You held meetings with Azerbaijani officials, so what is the response that you received from Azerbaijani side about your offer in terms of help, support to the process of demining?

General Secretary of the Commission:

–We received very good response. We know, of course, that there were some misunderstandings about some declarations in France in the past. But as we heard from the President in his recent interview with French channel “France 24”, we are now in a new phase of our relations. And we are all in the same direction to help people of Azerbaijan, facing the danger of landmines

–Is there any certain, concrete offer or proposals from the Commission to contribute to demining process in Azerbaijan?

President of the Commission:

– As you know, it is humanitarian demining, it is not military demining. So, our purpose is to clear the areas, to allow the population to go back to the place they were living sometimes, 30 years ago. So, first we have to clean the ground, to remove the mines and then to help people to rebuild the houses, to rebuild some medical centers, clinics, also provide tools, equipment and etc. everything that can help them to go back to normal life. As I said this is humanitarian demining.

– Is there a plan that the French de-mining specialists to visit Azerbaijan in order to train, share their experience?

–Yes, of course. We can provide some training to Azerbaijani deminers. We are sure that you have deminers with good experience but we have also very long experience which goes back to World War II. We have had lots of deminers trained in France from many, many countries in the world. We have also opened regional schools for demining, one in Africa and one in Lebanon, Beirut. So, maybe we could welcome some deminers from your country to one of the schools if they wish to. And I think even if they are very good, they will become even better. So, we can have cooperation, technical cooperation.

–Azerbaijan reports there is a problem with the accuracy of mine maps provided by Armenia. On some maps, the accuracy is only 25 percent. Do you think that international organizations, including specialized agencies such as the National Commission, can participate in the verification of these maps for accuracy?

General Secretary of the Commission:

–France and as well as all the members of the OSCE Minsk Group, three Presidents of Minsk Group countries, US, France and Russia had all expressed the need to have the best information about the maps of landmines. In fact, information is useful for demining to be provided by Armenia. And I hope that these maps will be as complete as possible, but all persons working in demining will have all the information.

France has decided to fund ANAMA for half million euros in order to first make victim assistance and to buy some demining tools, to equip the demining staff in order to go more rapidly. And this cooperation will be continued next year.

–After complete your trip to the region will you prepare any report about the situation?

–Of course, we will make report on the situation in France also in international bodies. We represent France in Conference of Ottawa, Oslo and we are members of committees in Geneva in the demining community and will try to make coalition of countries to help Azerbaijan. The next year France will preside the European Union we will try also to gather different countries in order to help to the stabilization in the region, in Caucasus by funding and of course, members of Parliament like Fabian Gouttefarde are going to inform to the Commission and their colleagues on the real situation in the country.

–Landmines are real danger for civilians and this is a serious problem not in just Azerbaijan but other regions of the globe. What is your view how the international community can deal with this issue?

–We hope that in order to have largest support to Azerbaijan, your country should ratify international convention of Ottawa on demining. Because I think that it was very well appreciated and got recognition from the international community demining that Azerbaijan has decided to remove all the mines. And I think that signature of the Convention will be great help to have very huge support from international community.

–Neither Azerbaijan nor Armenia has joined the Ottawa Convention. How can the international community encourage and support these countries to join the Convention?

–I think that this mission is element of that. We have to discuss and to share views on this matter.

We will have meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and we will discuss this issue. We wish have the world free of mines to 2025, it will be very difficult to achieve, but we have ambitious aim for the whole world. We strongly wish that Azerbaijan joins this convention.