Azerbaijani lawmakers on Thursday called for France to be expelled from the Minsk Group mediating in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict after the French Senate backed the region’s independence claim.

Armenia and Azerbaijan, two former Soviet republics, have been involved in a territorial conflict since they gained independence in the 1990s. Nagorno-Karabakh, which is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan, but is historically an ethnic Armenian region, has been the focal point of the conflict between the two nations.

More than 2,000 people have died since the fighting broke out on September 27, including many civilians. France, the United States and Russia are co-chairs of the Minsk Group that has mediated over Nagorno-Karabakh, but has failed to achieve a lasting agreement. Earlier this month, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia signed a deal to end the conflict.

On Wednesday, the French upper house adopted a nonbinding resolution calling on the French government to recognise the separatist region as an independent state. The resolution states that “the security and freedom of the Armenian populations in Nagorno-Karabakh are not guaranteed by the Republic of Azerbaijan”.

Nagorno-Karabakh’s declaration of independence from Azerbaijan has not been recognized by any country. On Thursday, Azerbaijani lawmakers adopted a resolution urging the government to appeal to the OSCE which oversees the Minsk Group, to expel France from its presidency.

Meanwhile, some 2,000 Russian peacekeepers have been deployed along frontline areas and to protect a land link connecting Karabakh with Armenia.


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