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Armenia: France's arms sales are a 'provocation', says Turkey's Erdogan

Turkish president expressed anger at sale of 50 Bastion armoured vehicles to Yerevan by Paris
France has been delivering 50 units of Bastion model 12-tonne armoured vehicles to Armenia (Arquus Defense)
France has been delivering 50 units of Bastion model 12-tonne armoured vehicles to Armenia (Arquus Defense)
By Ragip Soylu in Ankara

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has labelled the French government’s decision to supply Armenia with 50 Bastion armoured vehicles as a “provocation”.

Erdogan suggested that Yerevan should focus on peace, rather than falling into traps set by other countries.

"What France is doing is just provocation. France should know that it is not doing good to Armenia, on the contrary, it is doing harm," Erdogan told a group of journalists on Friday who had accompanied him on a state visit to Greece. 

“France has previously supported Armenia. What result did they get? Nothing," he added.

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French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said during a visit to Armenia in October that Paris had agreed to deliver military equipment to Armenian forces following Azerbaijan’s seizure of Nagorno-Karabakh, despite the presence of Russian peacekeepers in the area.

More than 100,000 ethnic Armenians left Nagorno-Karabakh after Azerbaijan attacked the area in a "counter-terror" operation in September, forcing Armenian separatists to sign a disarmament deal less than 24 hours after the offensive. 

Nagorno-Karabakh is a nominal Azerbaijani territory under international law, with a majority ethnic Armenian population. It had previously been run by a breakaway Armenian authority.

Armenia did not resist the Azerbaijani offensive three months ago, blaming Russian forces for the failure. Yerevan confirmed that it recognised Azerbaijan's territorial unity, but called the ethnic Armenian exodus from Nagorno-Karabakh "forced displacement". 

Slew of orders

Armenian news site Armenpress reported earlier this week that France had already delivered 24 Bastion armoured vehicles, citing an internal document from the French Senate.

The remaining 26 vehicles were in the production phase and will arrive at a later date, the report said. 

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The internal document, as quoted by Armenpress, stated that Armenia had recently signed an order for the purchase of three GM200 radars from French company Thales, and was in talks over a delivery of French-made Mistral 3 surface-to-air missiles. 

It added a recommendation that a delivery of France's Caesar self-propelled howitzer artillery system should also be studied.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in a joint statement on Thursday announced that they had taken a number of confidence-building measures, including releasing several prisoners of war from each side and supporting each other in international forums such as the Cop28 climate summit. 

The Turkish foreign ministry in an official statement on Friday backed the move and said it hoped both countries will sign a peace agreement soon. 

Turkey backed Azerbaijan during a previous offensive against Armenian separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020, with armed drones and other sophisticated weapons, as well as with Syrian fighters

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