MP: “French Parliament can turn into a platform for exchanges for the settlement of the Karabakh conflict”

Bertrand Sorre, vice-president of the friendship group with Azerbaijan at the National Assembly of France (parliament), gave an interview to the Western European Bureau of the Report.

– How do you assess the current relations between the parliaments of Azerbaijan and France?

– I am a member of the France-Azerbaijan Friendship Group and at the same time is the vice-president of that group.

It gives us extensive opportunities for mutual exchange around our cooperation, experiences, views, and organizational issues. I think parliamentarians should work to ensure that the good relations between the two countries are stable, not for the purpose of diplomacy between the two countries.

– How did you decide to join the France-Azerbaijan friendship group?

– First of all, I wanted to learn more about the country of which I had little information. I also liked this city after about watching reports about Baku.

–  Do you think that reality coincides with what you have seen in reports after visiting Baku?

– Absolutely. Baku is one of the most successful examples of urbanization and it should be very pleasant to live there. One of the spectacular scenes was the size and beauty of the Baku Boulevard. There are also children’s playgrounds and meeting places. There were expressions of satisfaction on the face of people I saw. Along with modern buildings, the preservation of the ancient Baku concept, as well as Icheri Sheher, has been one of the most attractive destinations in the city. Today, I consider myself a friend of Azerbaijan. The relations with the Azerbaijani embassy have led me to a sincere relationship with Azerbaijan. Sometimes I want to support Azerbaijan, which suffers from a negative image in French press. I want to testify that our relationship with Azerbaijan develops on the basis of friendship and our contacts are pure and disinterested.

– What role can the parliamentary friendship group play in the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?

– France is co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group and is closely involved in resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and intends to continue its efforts in this direction. This conflict should be settled peacefully, and in this process France is one of the key partners. France intends to continue this mission. There are friendly groups within the Parliament. You know that there is also a French-Armenian friendship group. Although friendship groups do not interfere directly with the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the French parliament can turn into a platform for exchanges.

Relations with various parliaments can contribute to conflict resolution. But we, the parliamentarians, are not diplomats. The part of our mission is to strengthen relations with various parliaments as well as to establish friendly relations, which we can achieve in resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which should have been resolved long before. My position on this issue is clear. The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic does not exist. France’s position on this issue is unambiguous.

– What do you think of some French merchants’ visit to the so-called “Nagorno-Karabakh Republic” and the “friendly charter” signed between French cities and the cities of this so-called republic?

– These are the measures taken by local municipalities. These “friendly charities” have nothing to do with the French state. The French state has repeatedly stated its position: It does not recognize the “Nagorno-Karabakh Republic”.

What are your impressions of the 6th humanitarian forum held in Baku?

The forum was organized at a high level. Azerbaijan has demonstrated that it is capable of hosting international events and, in particular, on the basis of a high level of security. Reception of participants and performances were carried out with great care. After seeing this, I realized that I was right to support Azerbaijan’s bid for hosting the International Expo Exhibition in 2025.

-What is your attitude towards critical articles about Azerbaijan in the French press?

– I would like to urge those who have read these articles to get to know the authors of those articles. If they were written by people prejudiced against Azerbaijan, it is natural that the articles would not be in the country’s favor. When I was in Azerbaijan, I witnessed democracy in this country. People in Azerbaijan live freely and choose their lifestyle like in France. I realized that Azerbaijan is a country where people have free ideas, liberal beliefs and free elections. I have read the history of Azerbaijan. I participated in an exhibition organized by the Azerbaijani embassy. I know that women in Azerbaijan were granted the right to vote 100 years ago. This is a matter of pride. I think that Azerbaijan should further appreciate its democratic and secular values. I am ready to support Azerbaijan in events that will create positive assessments about Azerbaijan.

– Does the Armenian lobby in France play a role in voicing negative opinions about Azerbaijan in the French press?

– I think that the Armenian diaspora in France is strong and I do not rule out that some media outlets may fall under its influence.

– In what areas could the prospects of cooperation between France and Azerbaijan be more beneficial?

– I think more about education. When I was in Azerbaijan, I understood from my conversation with the Ministry of Education that this country is interested in the forms of certification of specialist diplomas in some areas. In France this area has been developed for many years and we can apply this model in Azerbaijan. There are also great tourism opportunities in Azerbaijan, which stems from the diversity of its nature, climate, landscape. There are some wonderful airports in Baku with intense air flights. During my visit to Azerbaijan, I saw that the road infrastructure is also at a high level. France is a country of tourism and development of this area can be useful for our countries. Cultural and religious diversity in Azerbaijan can be combined with other factors to turn your country into a destination beloved by tourists.