France accuses Azerbaijan of interfering in New Caledonia riots News
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France accuses Azerbaijan of interfering in New Caledonia riots

France accused Azerbaijan on Friday of interfering in the riots in New Caledonia and spreading anti-French rhetoric on social media, according to a report published by the French agency Viginum.

Viginum alleged that Azerbaijan disseminated “manifestly inaccurate or misleading content – photo or video montages – blaming France for its handling of the situation in New Caledonia in the context of the riots.” The report came one day after French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin accused Azerbaijan of making an agreement with New Caledonia independentists. After recalling the Armenian massacre in Azerbaijan, Darmanin added further that France will not cede to the violence, and that it maintains sovereignty over the country.

Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry strongly rejected the accusations and denied the alleged ties with protests’ leaders. Azerbaijan further commented on France’s history of “crimes against humanity” to local peoples, as well as the “brutal murder of millions of innocent people” during France’s colonial history. Adding to that, Azerbaijan placed the blame on France’s “failed policy” of management towards overseas territories.

France is a traditional ally of Armenia, a country that has clashed with Azerbaijan regarding certain territorial disputes, including in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Armenia agreed to cede a number of its territories to Azerbaijan in April, and the country has been facing strong protests by the local communities because of the decision.

The Baku Initiative Group, a political enterprise started by Azerbaijan that aims to support anti-colonialist movements, made a statement on Thursday condemning France’s new amendment to the electoral structure in New Caledonia. The amendment would give the right to vote to residents who have been living for at least ten years in the country, including French nationals, in the provincial ballots.

The protests started on May 13 and 14 after the constitutional initiative by the French National Assembly. Ever since, New Caledonia has imposed a curfew and a ban on public gatherings. France declared a state of emergency Thursday due to violent and deadly riots.