France continues to arm Armenia - Is Yerevan preparing for peace or war? -ANALYSIS

France continues to arm Armenia - Is Yerevan preparing for peace or war? -ANALYSIS
# 18 June 2024 15:04 (UTC +04:00)

Attempts to hinder the long-awaited peace in the South Caucasus, plans to create a new escalation and a source of tension have entered a new stage. France, the state most interested in the destabilization of the region, expands the nomenclature of the weapons and ammunition it sells to Armenia and encourages the Armenian leadership to revanchism.

Thus, on June 17, during Armenian Defense Minister Suren Papikyan’s visit to France, an agreement was signed between the two parties on the purchase of CAESAR self-propelled howitzers.

“We continue to strengthen our defense relations with Armenia. A new important stage was the signing of the contract for the purchase of CAESAR self-propelled howitzers,” - Sébastien Lecornu, Minister of the Armed Forces of France said in his post. Despite the details of these contracts and the exact number of CAESAR to be sold to Armenia have not been disclosed, what happened shows that France is moving the escalation in the South Caucasus to a new and dangerous stage.

CAESAR howitzers, which were also actively used in the Russian-Ukrainian war, do not change the course of the war, but have serious destructive power. Armenia, which says that it is ready to sign a peace treaty with Azerbaijan in a short period of time, cannot have any serious military needs to acquire artillery systems of this caliber and power. By purchasing CAESARs, Armenia actually clearly reveals that it is actually preparing for a rematch with Azerbaijan, and France is officially preparing Yerevan for this war by selling these weapons.

This agreement should be considered an integral part of the process of preparation for the rematch, which started with the agreement signed by Armenia on the purchase of 3 GM200 radar systems, 50 Bastion-type armored vehicles and the future purchase of Mistral short-range air defense systems from France.

In addition, during the visit, an agreement on military-technical cooperation was signed between Armenia and the French-German defence industry holding company KNDS. The company, which is a manufacturer of "Leopard 2", "Leclerc" tanks, "PzH 2000", "CAESAR" howitzers, armored personnel carriers, air defense systems and engineering equipment, not disclosing the details of the contract it signed with Armenia raises questions. The presence of a revanchist wing in the Armenian government and the military preparations carried out in coordination with France are other issues that cause serious concern. This mood of revanchism, the tendency to talk with official Baku in a threatening tone is also noticeable in the statements made by some Armenian officials against the background of the delimitation process between the two countries. For example, on June 5, the governor of Gegharkunik province, bordering Azerbaijan, Karen Sargsyan, speaking about the prospects of the delimitation process in the direction of the city of Jermuk, changed to a threatening tone.

"If Azerbaijan does not leave Gegharkunik after the delimitation, other means will be applied that will force them to withdraw. And these mechanisms does not necessarily mean military mechanisms,” – he said. Other opinions voiced by both opposition and pro-government MPs in the Armenian Parliament regarding the progress of the delimitation process, demanding to Azerbaijan withdraw from certain territories, show that Armenia is trying to create obstacles to the process.

Holding military exercises in the country frequently, conducting training camps of military reserve force, placing orders to local military industrial companies in the amount of USD 495 million this year indicate a dangerous tendency.

And finally, the regular violations of the ceasefire regime in the direction of Nakhchivan of the Azerbaijani-Armenian conditional border in recent days are an echo of these revanchist preparations. Armenia is preparing the ground for new provocations, military provocations that will delay the signing of the peace agreement and lead to a new escalation. In case of possible tension on the contact line and force majeure situations that will arise during the signing of the peace agreement, Azerbaijan will be tried to be shown as the guilty party with the diplomatic support of France.

In recent days, what happened in the South Caucasus region, hearing the sound of gunfire after a long time on the contact line again, France approaching the "red lines" in the policy of arming Armenia, and processes taking place inside Armenia itself, may reset the recent achievements in the Azerbaijan-Armenia normalization and delimitation process, and jeopardize the favorable ground established for signing a peace agreement. In order to prevent this from happening, the military and political leadership of Armenia should stop arming by showing will, should stop the provocative, revanchist statements of the officials and accept Azerbaijan’s fair terms and principles of regarding the signing of the peace agreement and the delimitation process. Then, exactly at this time, the long-desired era of peace can take place in the South Caucasus.

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