Azerbaijan alarmed amid new potential environmental disaster, thanks to Armenia

Politics Materials 8 June 2023 12:01 (UTC +04:00)
Azerbaijan alarmed amid new potential environmental disaster, thanks to Armenia

BAKU, Azerbaijan, June 8. Azerbaijani NGOs have issued a statement in protest against the Armenian project, which will lead to a new environmental disaster in Armenia's Arazdayan district, Trend reports.

According to the report published in Armenian media, Armenia is preparing to build a large metallurgical plant in Arazdayan, a region bordering on Azerbaijan’s Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. A total of $70 million will be invested in the construction.

"The toxic chemical waste generated by this metallurgical plant can have a tremendous impact on the region’s ecosystem. The risk of this waste being discharged into the Araz river is a wake-up call for both the river's wildlife and the large farms using the Araz water for irrigation. Armenia’s failure to comply with any international mining industry standards poses a serious environmental threat to both Azerbaijan and the region as a whole," the NGOs said in the statement.

The construction of such an enterprise on the border without agreement with the Azerbaijani side represents a flagrant violation of the 1991 Espoo Convention “On Environmental Impact Assessment in the Trans-boundary Context”. Azerbaijan and Armenia are parties to that Convention, and proceeding from the Espoo Convention, an assessment of the environmental impact of this plant should be carried out, relevant institutions of Azerbaijan should review the assessment document related to the construction.

The opinion of the Azerbaijanis living close to the region should be taken into account, said the statement.

"Armenia's non-compliance with these requirements once again shows that it is pursuing a destructive policy in the region, blatantly violating provisions of international documents to which it is a signatory, as well as its international obligations," said the NGOs.

"Armenia's policy of environmental terror and ecocide against Azerbaijan is not new. The fact that the “Metsamor” nuclear power plant has been posing a threat to the region’s environment for many years, the large-scale environmental tragedies committed in Karabakh during the occupation, and the discharge of chemical waste into the Okhchuchay river without prior treatment are further evidence of that. Armenia has severely polluted the Okhchuchay river. This exposes the ecosystem of the part of the river passing through the territory of Azerbaijan to irreversible degradation. German “Cronimet” company is involved in this environmental crime alongside Armenia. Unfortunately, the German government has not taken any tangible steps in this direction," the statement notes.

The NGOs said that by committing these environmental crimes, Armenia completely violates the UN Sustainable Development Goals, in particular the third goal on ensuring everyone's health, the 6th goal on clean water and sanitation, the 13th goal on combating the consequences of climate change, and the 15th goal on protecting the soil ecosystem.

"The UN recognized a clean, healthy and sustainable environment as a human right in 2022. By causing serious damage to the environment, Armenia grossly violates the human rights of the population of Azerbaijan, including the region as a whole. Moreover, according to various international documents, including the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, economic activity must be carried out without cause any harm to human rights. In this case, Armenia behaves irresponsibly, ignores the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment and puts its own economic interests above everything else," said the statement.

The NGOs said that as environmental non-governmental organizations operating in Azerbaijan, they appeal to relevant international organizations, including the UN Environment Program, the World Health Organization, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Environment, the UN Special Rapporteur on Harmful Substances and Human Rights, "urging them to react to this and put an end to Armenia's unending environmental terror".

"We appeal to the government of the US to urge the company preparing to build the large metallurgical plant in the Arazdayan district and registered in its territory to act responsibly. Officials of the US, including those of the US Embassies in Azerbaijan and Armenia, should not remain tight-lipped, but should express their opinion on the issue," said the statement.