Valérie Pécresse denounced to the press the “seriousness of this threat to a presidential candidate who would not be free to go where she wants” and found “the deafening silence of the French government very shocking”. “These threats do not intimidate me and I would have liked a solemn response from the French government to this threat from a foreign head of state on a French presidential candidate,” she said.
The candidate Les Républicains went to Armenia before Christmas, shortly after the passage of the far-right candidate Eric Zemmour, for a visit intended to illustrate her support for Eastern Christians in this Caucasus country. She was notably accompanied by the former European Commissioner and former French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier, one of her campaign advisers.
In an interview with local media on Wednesday, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev criticized Ms. Pécresse and Mr. Barnier for having gone “secretly” on this occasion to the separatist region of Nagorny-Karabakh, at the center of a conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan which killed more than 6,500 people.
“In case of illegal visits (to Karabakh) we officially express our dissatisfaction with the Russian side”, which is in charge of peacekeeping operations in the region. “We were told ‘we didn’t see anything, we didn’t know, we didn’t pay attention (…)’. But we cannot believe (this version of events). (…) In this case, it was an organized visit,” he said.
“If we had known they were there, obviously we wouldn’t have let them come back (to Armenia). The Lachin Corridor (road linking Armenia and Karabakh) is under our control. We can stop any car there and nobody can tell us anything,” Aliev added.
Valérie Pécresse’s lawyer, Me Thibault de Montbrial, announced to AFP the intention of the candidate to file a complaint on Saturday in Paris for “death threats”. International law protects sitting heads of state from legal action. Valérie Pécresse began a trip to Greece on Friday, where she is to visit a closed camp for migrants and asylum seekers on the island of Samos on Saturday.