Kouchner in Artsakh in February 2021. Image courtesy of the Aurora Initiative

“My idea is [for the West] to make an offer to [Vladimir] Putin… to play the good boy and not the bad boy, if he’s able to offer some resolution,” in Karabakh, former foreign minister of France Bernard Kouchner said in remarks broadcast on April 27. Kouchner noted that the Russian forces, though with some delay, did manage to bring peace to Karabakh and the offer would provide Western diplomatic support for the Russian-led peacekeeping mission there.

While acknowledging all the problematic actions of the Russian leader, Kouchner argued that the West “had a debt to the Armenians” and had to support steps to prevent another genocide of the Armenian people, including those taken by Putin.

The French politician also argued that Armenian military setbacks against Turkish-backed Azerbaijani forces were in part due to the lack of commitment by the Armenian government to defend Artsakh. People in Karabakh feel abandoned both by other Armenians and the West, whose governments did nothing to help them, he said.

Kouchner, 81, went to Artsakh last February on a visit organized by the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative led by the Russian Armenian businessman Ruben Vardanyan. Kouchner, who founded the humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders, also visited Karabakh during the first war in the early 1990s. He was France’s foreign minister from 2007 to 2010.

Kouchner spoke in an online panel together with the former State Department official Dan Fried and the Armenian Assembly of America’s co-chair Van Krikorian that was organized by David Phillips, who heads the Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University.