Azerbaijani president accuses France of pursuing neocolonial policy

Ilham Aliyev urges French President Macron to apologize for France's colonial past

Elena Teslova  | 05.07.2023 - Update : 05.07.2023
Azerbaijani president accuses France of pursuing neocolonial policy


Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on Wednesday accused France of being one of the countries which continue their neocolonial policy.

Speaking at a meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement in the capital Baku, Aliyev urged French President Emmanuel Macron to apologize to the countries affected by French colonialism.

“Apologies to the millions of people whom his (Emmanuel Macron's) predecessors colonized, used as slaves, killed, tortured and humiliated.

“It will not only be recognition of France's historical guilt, but will also help it overcome the consequences of the deep political, social and humanitarian crisis in which it found itself after the brutal murder of an Algerian teenager,” he said.

Aliyev underlined that Baku supported a recent UN statement expressing regret over the shooting of police officers and calling on France to "seriously address the deep problems of racism and discrimination in law enforcement agencies."

Aliyev also said racist and discriminative rhetoric becomes common in France, including in the media.

Nahel M., a 17-year-old of Algerian descent, was shot at point-blank range by a police officer last week in the Paris suburb of Nanterre.

Protests have since swept France after the fatal shooting of the teenager during a traffic check.

The officer faces a formal investigation for voluntary homicide and has been placed in preliminary detention.

Aliyev warned of spreading Islamophobia and xenophobia at a "worrisome" pace, as well as attempts to equate Islam with violence and terror. He also criticized a recent string of Quran burnings in Nordic countries.

"The burning and desecration of the Holy Quran in Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden and justifying it under the guise of freedom of speech is absolutely irresponsible, unacceptable and must be condemned," he stressed.

The latest burning of the Muslim holy book was perpetrated last Wednesday in front of a Stockholm mosque by a 37-year-old man of Iraqi origin under police protection.

The act was deliberately timed to coincide with Eid al-Adha, a significant Islamic religious festival observed by Muslims worldwide.

France's 'hypocrisy and double standards' on Karabakh

The Azerbaijani president also accused France of interfering in the internal affairs of other countries under the guise of advocating human rights and international law.

He said Paris was atempting to impose its neocolonial aims in the South Caucasus region, supporting Armenian separatism in Azerbaijan's Karabakh region, through geopolitical rivalries, the presence of foreign military forces, and colonialism.

"France even bans the Corsican language and does not accept the concept of ethnic minority, but at the same time tries to portray itself as the defender of the Armenian national minority in Azerbaijan.

"This is nothing but hypocrisy and double standards," he stressed, urging French authorities to deal with human rights violations within France instead of lecturing others.

Aliyev called Azerbaijan's victory in the 2020 Second Karabakh War the "most significant and memorable moment for the Azerbaijani people" ending 30 years of Armenian occupation in the region.

He added that Baku curently faces a number of challenges in the region, as cultural and religious heritage, as well as the environment, were damaged by the Armenian side as they withdrew under a Russian-brokered peace agreement signed on Nov. 9, 2020.

"We were shocked by the scale of destruction in the previously occupied territories. Armenia deliberately destroyed and plundered Azerbaijani towns and villages stone by stone, desecrated and looted all cultural and religious sites, including mosques," Aliyev said.

Land mines were another "consequence" of Armenia's presence in Karabakh, he said, claiming that Azerbaijan was one of the conutries with the most land mines deployed within its borders.

For peace to take hold in the region, Armenian forces must completely leave the Karabakh region, disarming and demobilizing its military and paramilitary formations on the ground, asserted Aliyev.

Relations between the two former Soviet republics have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.

In the fall of 2020, Azerbaijan liberated several cities, villages and settlements from Armenian occupation during 44 days of clashes. The Russia-brokered peace agreement is celebrated as a triumph in Azerbaijan.

Despite the ongoing talks on a peace agreement, tensions between the neighboring countries increased in recent months over the Lachin corridor, the only land route giving Armenia access to Karabakh.

UN Security Council 'relic of past'

Turning to international organizations, particularly the UN, Aliyev said they did not meet the world's expectations and must undergo serious reforms.

He called the UN Security Council "a relic of the past and stressed that Baku was in favor of expanding the body to make it more representative and "geographically fair."

"I am glad that the consensus on this issue is growing in the world today," he noted.

Aliyev argued that the Non-Aligned Movement, Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and African Union should have rotating spots on the Security Council with veto rights.

The council has 15 seats, including five permanent members — the US, Russia, China, Britain, and France — which have the right to veto a resolution even if it has majority support. The other 10 seats are held by non-permanent members for two-year terms.

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