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Ombudsman of Azerbaijan makes statement on environmental crimes of Armenia

Politics Materials 22 August 2023 17:22 (UTC +04:00)
Ombudsman of Azerbaijan makes statement on environmental crimes of Armenia
Asif Mehman
Asif Mehman
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BAKU, Azerbaijan, August 22. Armenia, which has held the internationally recognized territories of Azerbaijan under occupation for 30 years, along with committing crimes against peace and humanity as well as war crimes, has caused and continues to cause serious damage to the ecology of the region, says the Azerbaijani Ombudsman Sabina Aliyeva, Trend reports.

The damage caused by Armenia to fertile soils, water basins, atmospheric air, forest resources, flora and fauna, and mineral resources has led to a violation of the ecological balance not only in our country but also in the region as a whole.

"Armenia commits environmental crimes and does not fulfill its obligations under international conventions in the field of ecology and the environment, to which it has acceded. At the same time, it is also deeply regrettable that international organizations and international non-governmental organizations working in the field of environmental protection remain silent about the problem that is the source of the global threat created by Armenia.

The prevention of crimes that have caused a violation of the ecological balance, the punishment of violators, and ensuring that each state complies with the requirements of existing international and national legislation in this area are some of the most important tasks. However, the existing double standards, the silence of international organizations, and impunity encourage Armenia to continue committing crimes that cause global and regional environmental problems. One of Armenia's new initiatives, which may create environmental problems in the region, is the intention to build a large metallurgical plant worth $70 million with an annual production capacity of 180,000 tons on an area of 16,500 square meters in the border area with Azerbaijan and very close to the border with Turkey. The construction of this plant in the village of Arazdeyen and the dumping of waste into the Araz River, the second largest river in the South Caucasus, can lead to pollution not only of this river but also of the Arpachay. Toxic gases released into the air as a result of the activities of this plant will have a serious impact on the fauna and flora. It will also lead to disruption of the ecosystem in a wide region and air pollution from toxic waste. Thus, Armenia once again grossly violates the norms and principles of international law, in particular the provisions of the UN Economic Commission for Europe convention on environmental impact assessment in a transboundary context (Espo Convention). According to the provisions of this convention, to which Armenia is a party, in case of a possible negative impact on the territory of other countries of major economic activities that the participating states plan on their territory, this activity should be coordinated with the relevant authorities of the relevant country, and an environmental impact assessment document should be prepared," the statement reads.

The Metsamor nuclear power plant operating in Armenia, despite the expiration of its service life, poses a real threat not only to Azerbaijan and Armenia itself but also to the South Caucasus as a whole. Back on January 27, 2021, the Azerbaijani Ombudsman adopted a statement "On the potential danger of the Metsamor NPP for the entire region," which stated that in order to prevent a catastrophe like the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters, the NPP should immediately cease functioning. However, Armenia ignored the concerns of international organizations about the activities of the Metsamor NPP and extended the operation of this plant.

In addition, the discharge of wastewater containing toxic waste from large mining enterprises in Armenia—the Gajaran copper-molybdenum plant and the Gafan ore processing plant—for many years into the transboundary Okhchuchay river has negatively affected the quality of all water resources in the region, which directly threatens the rights of people to life and a healthy environment. In this context, the Sarsang reservoir should also be noted. In the resolution of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe dated January 26, 2016, No. 2085, Armenia's actions in connection with the Sarsang reservoir were regarded as an act of aggression leading to global environmental problems. According to research, it takes many years and huge funds to restore the destroyed ecosystem on the lands liberated from the Armenian occupation. The mine threat created by Armenia on Azerbaijani lands, which has caused numerous human casualties, not only slows down the safe return to their homeland of hundreds of thousands of former internally displaced persons but also creates obstacles for large-scale construction and restoration work carried out in the territories liberated from occupation as well as for the establishment of peace.

"Although we regularly appeal to international organizations and relevant structures regarding the transfer of accurate mine maps of the liberated territories to our country, as well as maps with the coordinates of mass graves, unfortunately, the Armenian government has not yet taken any real steps to do this, evading under various pretexts," the statement reads.

The Azerbaijani Ombudsman once again called on international organizations active in the field of environmental protection, international non-governmental organizations, and civil society institutions to take joint decisive steps to solve global and regional environmental problems that have arisen as a result of environmental crimes committed by Armenia, its coercion to fulfill obligations arising from existing international documents in the field of environmental protection, and to prevent the recurrence of such actions in the future.

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