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French President may cancel his visit to Baku due to arrest of human rights activists, political observers in Baku say

  • by Emmanuil Mkrtchyan

  • Tuesday, April 29, 19:44

The French President's visit to Azerbaijan scheduled for May 12 may be cancelled, Azeri media outlets say in relation to the arrest of the well-known Azeri human rights activists - spouses Arif and Leyla Yunus, who advocate a dialogue between the civil societies of Azerbaijan and Armenia. They were arrested at the Baku airport on Tuesday morning.    

To note, French President Francois Hollande to the South Caucasus will start on May 8. He will visit Tbilisi, Baku and Yerevan. On May 12 he will be in Baku and on this day he will hold a meeting with representatives of civil society, in particular, with Leyla Yunus as a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor. Independent experts think that the current situation around the famous human rights activist, and in particular, her possible prosecution, puts the meeting into question. They think that the consequences of the scandal for official Baku are difficult to predict, but there is no doubt that the French side will insist on the security of Yunus, as evidenced by the fact that the French Ambassador and his deputy accompanied Leyla and Arif Yunus at Baku airport on Monday evening when they were flying to Paris. If at the time of the arrival of the French President in Baku, Leyla Yunus is charged with a crime, or is arrested, it is possible that Paris will make a corresponding move, Baku-based Turan agency reports.

It is noteworthy that on the threshold of French President Francois Hollande's visit to Baku, the former state adviser on foreign policy, Vafa Guluzade, told Turan the story of the failed visit of the former President of France, Jacques Chirac. "In 1998, Chirac's visit to Baku was being prepared, which was of great political importance for Azerbaijan. All the preparatory work was actually completed when we suddenly got a message that the visit would not take place. The French President informed us that if he came to Azerbaijan, he would also surely visit Armenia. And if he went to Armenia, he could be persuaded to visit Nagorno-Karabakh and it would be difficult to refuse. So Jacques Chirac asked to forgive him and not to wait," said Guluzade. "I could not help remembering this case and I hope that Mr Hollande will not have an incentive to visit Nagorno-Karabakh without the knowledge and consent of Baku, even if asked to do so. Anyway, our authorities should bear this in mind to avoid such surprises," said Guluzade.

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