France’s President Francois Macron on Thursday said that France will work to protect and preserve the cultural heritage of Karabakh.
“The guns fell silent in Nagorno-Karabakh. We are now working for a heritage and cultural ceasefire, with Armenia, Azerbaijan, our partners in the Minsk group, to preserve and restore the treasure of diversity and wealth of the whole region,” Macron said in a Twitter post.
He said France is ready to provide its expertise and full support for the protection of cultural and religious heritage in Karabakh through UNESCO and the Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflicts.
Earlier in the day, Macron spoke to Prim Minister Nikol Pashinyan, whose press service reported that they discussed the situation in Artsakh.
Both sides stressed the need to resume the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs in its entirety.
They referred to the issue of ensuring safe repatriation for tens of thousands of people who have fled their homes in recent weeks and preserving the religious, historical and cultural heritage of Artsakh.
The need to maintain peace and defuse the situation in the region was emphasized on both sides. In this regard, Pashinyan emphasized the critical importance of international recognition of the Artsakh Republic.
The Russian and France foreign ministers also had a conversation about the Karabakh conflict settlement process, a day after the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs met in Moscow. Details of that meeting have not been publicized.
Russia’s Sergey Lavrov and France’s Jean-Yves Le Drian emphasized the implementation of the “end of war” agreement signed by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and the presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan, which ended the military hostilities in Karabakh, but stipulated the surrender of territories in Artsakh to Azerbaijan, including Shushi.
To this end, cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the UNDP and the UNESCO were emphasized, with Lavrov clarifying the role of Russian peacekeepers, as well as the functions of the interagency center for humanitarian response.
The ministers agreed that the main priorities at present are the safe return of internally displaced persons and refugees, the unblocking of economic and transport communications in the region, the providing of humanitarian assistance and the rehabilitation of civilian infrastructure.
The Russian, French foreign ministers exchanged views on further steps toward the long-term settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh crisis, based on the principles agreed within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group and based on the equal interests of the Azerbaijani and Armenian peoples.