Open Letter from the Azerbaijani Community to France, signal of equality?

By | Rachel Brooks

January 5, 2020 

Above image credit: “National flag of France Xavier Buaillon” by xavier buaillon is licensed under CC BY 2.0

On December 21, 2020, the community of Azerbaijan and the community of the Azerbaijani diaspora in France wrote a letter to the French president and the French National Assembly. The open letter shared with the National Assembly the Azerbaijani sentiment regarding French policy toward the Karabakh conflict. While the Azerbaijani community recognized that the French people have a “special privileged” relationship with the Armenian community from history, the community likewise called out the French National Assembly for portraying Azerbaijan in the light of Islamism.

An English translation of the letter proceeds in its entirety as follows: 

 

In Paris, on 12/21/2020

Subject: Open letter to the President of the Republic, the President of the Senate, and the President of the National Assembly

Mr. President of the Republic,

Mr. President of the Senate,

Mr. President of the National Assembly,

The signatories of this letter, who have a cultural, friendly, or family link with Azerbaijan and France, wish to share with you their feelings following the statements made to the Senate on November 26, 2020, and to the National Assembly on December 03, 2020, concerning the recognition of the self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent state.

It is commendable that the representatives of the nation decide to debate a subject which concerns the Armenian people with whom France maintains privileged relations, but does this friendship justify the absence of the most elementary objectivity?

We thus wish to express our indignation concerning the content of the speeches which were held. Indeed, with bombastic, Manichean, and simplistic speeches and by rhetoric to charge invoking the words of genocide, war crimes, Azerbaijani dictatorship, Islamism, jihadism, expansionism, very little space was made to the reality of what the Azerbaijani people are.

A deeply secular Azerbaijani people, unlike the Islamism of which they are accused.

An Azerbaijani people who is an example of the integration of minorities, especially Jews and Christians.

An Azerbaijani people who maintain peaceful relations with their Turkish, Iranian, Russian, and Georgian neighbors.

An Azerbaijani people who today mourn almost 3000 dead, civilians or soldiers.

An Azerbaijani people who know the conflicting and painful past they had with Armenia and with its Armenian minorities.

An Azerbaijani people who have lived for 30 years with a feeling of injustice: that of the occupation of their territories by Armenian armed forces, which led to the exodus of more than 700,000 Azerbaijanis and that of the attempt to deny legitimacy to the Azerbaijani people to live on their lands.

If at the outbreak of the conflict in the 1990s, the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave was predominantly Armenian, it is essential to remember that the 7 (seven) districts around Nagorno-Karabakh were predominantly Azerbaijani before the purification ethnicity pushes Azerbaijanis to flee these territories. Remember also that the city of Shusha which is located in the heart of Nagorno-Karabakh is considered by Azerbaijanis as one of the cradles of Azerbaijani culture.

The charges of war crimes, the use of cluster munitions, and violence against prisoners of war are extremely serious and unquestionably condemnable. However, it is regrettable that the speakers only accept the accusations against Azerbaijan and omit to mention the bombardments carried out with cluster munitions on the Azerbaijani civilian population in the cities of Gandja and Barda or the acts of cruelty towards Azerbaijani soldiers, who were also relayed on social networks. In order to achieve a just and lasting peace, it will be necessary to shed light on these acts, without discrimination of camp.

We understand that the sufferings of the Armenian people are deep, but those of Azerbaijan are so deep.

In addition, the various speakers gave a disproportionate place to the intentions of the President of Turkey and to his influence in this conflict, putting in the background its Caucasian dimension.

However, it is the future of the Armenian and Azerbaijani peoples that is at stake, and it appears derisory and inappropriate to try to settle accounts with Ankara at the expense of the main parties concerned.

The argument of the defense of a small Christian people and friend of France has been repeated many times. At the time of reflection on national unity and when France likes to take advantage of its impartiality and secularism, it seems problematic that friendship and religion are among the main arguments of the debate.

Thus, in the holding of these debates, France did not live up to its values ​​of justice and impartiality. Once again, we demand the right to balanced and fair debates in which a nation is not stigmatized for the simple purpose of keeping one side happy or serving geopolitical or electoral objectives.

As for the votes of the resolutions asking the Executive to recognize the self-proclaimed republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, we are divided between consternation and incomprehension: would the French legislators want to question Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and internationally recognized borders??

This unilateral position poses inextricable problems, in its legality and its application. Unfortunately, it appears much more as a political posture than as an instrument for conflict resolution.

Today, it is up to the Executive to decide France’s position and we sincerely hope that, by reaffirming its values ​​of justice and impartiality and by its invaluable experience of Franco-German reconciliation, France will be able to work to normalize relations between the communities and to establish lasting peace in this region.

The signatories, in alphabetical order:

  • Hijran A., Accountant
  • Rasim A., Real estate agent
  • Nigar A.
  • Murad A., Ph.D. student
  • Etibar A., ​​Entrepreneur
  • Aysel A.
  • Shahla A.
  • Atifa A., Student
  • Babak A.
  • Parviz A., French teacher
  • Renara A., Pianist, composer
  • Gunay A.
  • Djéyhoun A., Researcher
  • Yegana A.
  • Madina A.
  • Nurana A., Researcher
  • Konul A., Teacher
  • Rashid A., Student
  • Farid A.
  • Mammad A., Professor at the University of Baku
  • Aygun A., French teacher
  • Elmira A.
  • Gulara A.
  • Gunel A.
  • Vusala A.
  • Rana A., Economist
  • Zeynal A., Tourism agent
  • Nargiz A.Leproux
  • Sophie A.
  • Antonio A., Retired
  • Raphaël A.
  • Mahsati A.
  • Elgül A., Doctor
  • Ramin A., Civil servant
  • Alexandre A.
  • Wilhem A., IT specialist
  • Leyla B., Graphic Designer
  • Nushaba B., Teacher
  • Ayan B.
  • Renaud B., Painter
  • Aynur B., Student
  • Araz B., Urological Surgeon
  • Elena B., Translator
  • Parvine B.
  • Pervin B.
  • Hikmet B.
  • Patrick Ch.
  • Stephane C.
  • Sevda D.
  • Gulia D.
  • Sengul D.
  • Kamalia Dz.
  • Florent F.
  • Aliyeva F., Development Manager
  • Tad F.
  • Aysel G.
  • Mahir G., Employee
  • Emil G.
  • Ragub G.
  • Rena G., Nursing Assistant
  • Aytan G., Magazine Correspondent
  • Capelli G., Sales manager
  • Afag G., French teacher
  • Kamala G.
  • Gulnar S.
  • Vusala G.
  • Jean Clement H.
  • Gulnara H., French teacher
  • Hadjali H., Student
  • Gulshan H., Engineer
  • Esmira H.
  • Guler H., Professor
  • Leyla H.
  • Aymeric H., Engineer
  • Gaetan H.
  • Sabina H.
  • Akbar H., Geologist
  • Konul H.
  • Saida Céline H., Journalist
  • Simuzar Solene H.
  • Tarana H., French teacher
  • Madina H., Professor
  • Afsana H.
  • Matanat I., Senior specialist
  • Sona I., Student
  • Ilahe H.
  • Rafael I., Company manager
  • Sabuhi I., Logistics Manager
  • Vusala I., French teacher
  • Bahar I.
  • Parvana I., State registered nurse
  • Nigar J., French teacher
  • Parvana J., Student
  • Gunay K.
  • Aygun K.
  • Sanubar K., Doctor
  • Zurab K., Diplomat
  • Anar K., Economist
  •  Tukazban Kh.
  •  Mariya Khan-Khoyskaya Mr.
  •  Khatira M.
  •  Rasim Kh., Export manager
  •  Céline K., Midwife
  •  Alexandra K., Photographer
  •  Kuteis H.
  •  Alexander K., Entrepreneur
  •  Meri L., Business Manager
  •  Francois L.
  •  Antoine L., Analyst
  •  Guillemette L.
  •  Christophe L., IT specialist
  •  Eline M., Company manager
  •  Aynura M., Teacher
  •  Elnur M., Journalist
  •  Zahra M.
  •  Ayten M., French teacher
  •  Gounay M., French teacher
  •  Arif M.
  •  Karam M.
  •  Aicha M., Civil servant
  •  Guldasta M., French teacher
  •  Aygun M.
  •  Azar M., Economist
  •  Saida M.
  •  Simon M.
  •  Maryam M.
  •  Metanet M.
  •  Leyla M.
  •  Narmin M.
  •  Vugar M.
  •  Emil M., Student
  •  Aytan M., Quality Assurance Specialist
  •  Nigar M., French teacher
  •  Vougar M., Performer
  •  Éric M., Sales Director
  •  Tarana M., Artist
  •  Aline M., Legal expert
  •  Kamala M., International Affairs Consultant
  •  Akshin M.
  •  Fidan M.
  •  Rena M.
  •  Kamran N.
  •  Samit N.
  •  Ilaha N.
  • İ lhama N., Student
  •  Nazim N.
  •  Gani N.
  •  Nurana H., Project manager
  •  Patrick O.
  •  Selim O., Translator-interpreter
  •  Mehriban O., Jurist
  •  Elnur P.
  •  Elnara P., Project manager
  •  Marina P., Civil servant
  •  Guler Q.
  •  Rashad Q.
  •  Khayala Q., Professor
  •  Akhsura R., Professor
  •  Afag R., French teacher
  •  Rahim R.
  •  Nahid R.
  •  Gulia R.
  •  Rasmiya I., Professor
  •  Aghasalim R., Company manager
  •  Parviz R., Manager
  •  Altay R.
  •  Ziba Xanım R.
  •  Gulsum R., Receptionist in a museum
  •   Martin R., Company manager
  •  Konul R., Student
  •  Sabuhi M., Student
  •  Gunel S., Architect designer
  •  Gul S.
  •  Cavid S., Maintenance technician
  •  Gunel S., Researcher
  •  Valida S., Social Media Marketing Specialist
  •  Salatin M.
  •  Frédéric S., Chef
  •  Samir M.
  •  Sardar S., Student
  •  Sayali V., Surgeon
  •  Sevda G.
  •  Sevinj M., Professor
  •  Vefa S., French teacher
  •  Lala Sh.
  •  Shain S., Writer, translator
  •  Claude S., Investor
  •  Philippe S.
  •  Michael S., Head of fire safety
  •  Sudaba Kh., Retired
  •  Shabnam S.
  •  Reyhan S.
  • I lkın S., Lawyer
  •  Gunash T., Student
  •  Elshan T.
  •  Severcan T.
  •  Khatira T.
  •  Alina T.
  •  Gulnar V., Web developer
  •  Nigar V., Translator
  •  Shafiga V.
  •  Julien V.
  •  Stéphanie V., Pediatric nurse
  •  Segolene W.
  •  Francoise W.
  •  Thomas W.
  •  Salman Y., Teacher
  •  Ercan Y.
  •  Elmar Y., Senior Engineer / Entrepreneur
  •  Zaur S., Civil administrator
  •  Togrul Z.
  •  Aysun Z., Student
  •  Nigar Z., Architect
  •  Nigar Z., Engineer

This may be considered a small step toward balancing both sides of the argument for the South Caucasus in French foreign policy. However, the Caucasus Exchange Network suggested that the signatories should have included their full names for the casual reader. This, it was suggested, would have given a slightly stronger impact on the public opinion of the letter. 

Whether such an open letter has the power to stimulate more balanced conversation regarding the South Caucasus and the nature of the Karabakh conflict as a territorial conflict remains to be seen. Yet, in late 2020, a shift in western media coverage of the conflict may have sounded off a notification bell, promising pathways to impartiality in at least a demographic of the western world. Should France join this demographic, efforts such as this open letter may be the influence that leads to that pass.