France, Russia and the US bear a special responsibility for Karabakh, French FM says

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has emphasized the great responsibility that the Minsk Group countries bear in the settlement of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.

“France, Russia and the United States have a special responsibility. Because they were the ones who were entrusted by the UN to monitor compliance with the commitments assumed by the parties to the conflict. As co-chairmen of the Minsk Group, we made a lot of efforts to achieve a ceasefire. Three times in one week initiatives were undertaken to achieve a cessation of hostilities, in particular, by my Russian colleague Sergei Lavrov and by the United States, Michael Pompeo, but at that moment it did not work, “Le Drian said on Sunday during an interview with the French news channel LSI.

“We bear the responsibility that the international community has entrusted to us. And itself wants us to keep this responsibility. All this requires us to adhere to a balanced position,” he said.

“Both the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaderships stressed the importance of preserving our role. But this does not prevent France from providing assistance to Armenia now – an airplane with humanitarian supplies arrives in , another one will leave there next week,” the minister said. During the interview, he especially stressed that “Armenia is a friendly people for France.

“However, it should be admitted that there is uncertainty regarding the ceasefire reached – and we want the necessary clarifications to be made to us in this regard. They concern displaced persons, since there are many Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh, and we strive to ensure that those Armenians, who were driven from their places of residence, return there,” the French minister said.

“It is also the issue of mercenaries – their withdrawal should be achieved, and all three countries – the co-chairs of the Minsk Group agree with the necessity of this,” he continued.

“There is also the issue of protecting religious and cultural heritage. In this regard, French President Emmanuel Macron took initiatives jointly with UNESCO, which I discussed on Saturday with my colleagues from Armenia and Azerbaijan,” Le Drian said.

“Only after the settlement of these problems can we move on to the issue of the status of Nagorno-Karabakh. At the moment it is not possible to discuss this. And the Armenian leadership agrees with this,” Le Drian said.

The French Foreign Minister said that the topic of Nagorno-Karabakh was discussed by him during the recent visit of US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo to Paris.

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