Environmental consequences of the occupation and the Karabakh war

Indicators show that negative trends in climate change are getting worse every year. Therefore, the protection of every tree and every natural water source must be a concern for all people on all corners of our planet and crimes against the natural environment are crimes against all mankind, Chief of the Department Center for Analysis of International Relations (AIR Center) Fuad Chiragov and the Head of the Department of International Cooperation of the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources Emin Qarabagli write for Brussels Morning.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reports that the natural environment is a neglected victim of armed conflict and that conflict has been the most important predictor of the decline of some populations of wild animals between 1946 and 2010. International humanitarian law prohibits the use of nature’s environment as a weapon and also prohibits deliberate attacks against the natural environment.

A fact often overlooked or overlooked by the international community, and perhaps much more important for the future of the entire South Caucasus region, is the environmental cost of occupation and conflict. During the active phase of the Karabakh war and the years of occupation, the natural environment was damaged and ruthlessly exploited. Towns and villages that housed up to a million people have been completely wiped out and demolished. The once flourishing city of Agdam was so destroyed that representatives of the international media called it the Hiroshima of the Caucasus.

Azerbaijan’s loss of control over these territories and the lack of adequate international monitoring has made it possible to commit crimes against the natural environment. The former occupied territories of Karabakh were home to vast forests populated by native trees and shrubs, rare animal and plant species, and abundant water supplies. Before the war, dozens of rare species of animals and plants were protected in state reserves and other protected areas. The predatory behavior towards the environment for three decades will still have a negative effect on the lives of millions of people in the region in the decades to come.

Over the past 27 years, Azerbaijan has repeatedly called on the international community to investigate information regarding the illegal disposal of nuclear and radioactive waste in these territories. During the years of occupation, every summer has seen massive forest fires in the occupied territories due to the lack of an effective fire management system and / or due to indifference. This fact was well documented by the OSCE fact-finding mission in 2006. The report documented that the series of massive forest fires invaded an area amounting to 163.3 km2 in the eastern part of the territories. Azerbaijani occupied by Armenians in the summer of 2006. On September 7, 2006, a resolution entitled “The situation in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan” by the United Nations General Assembly regarding the incidence of large-scale fires underlined “the need to urgently conduct an environmental operation” and called for “an assessment of the short and long term effects of the fires on the environment of the region and measures for its rehabilitation”.

After the liberation of the occupied territories, Azerbaijan made efforts to assess and calculate all damage to residential areas, infrastructure and the environment and to clear the territories of landmines that had been laid for thirty years . It is an expensive and time consuming activity that will likely take many years. At the same time, Azerbaijan seeks to appeal to the international community to end the continuing pollution and environmental damage in the region. The Gajaran copper-molybdenum plant and Gafan ore refinery in Armenia continue to ruthlessly contaminate the source of drinking water that is the Okhchuchay River (called the Voghji River in Armenia), which flows into the Araks River and from there into the Kura river and finally into the Caspian Sea. In other words, the pollution of the Okhchuchay River endangers the well-being of millions of people as well as the flora and fauna of the region.

The German company CRONIMET is an active player in the Armenian mining sector and the main shareholder (60%) of the Gajaran copper-molybdenum plant and the Gafan ore refinery. Many environmentalists remain totally dissatisfied with CRONIMET’s response to the environmental impact of the company’s activity. The German Embassy in Azerbaijan claims that the German company sold its shares in 2019. In addition, according to the German Ambassador, the company is a private company and therefore CRNIMET cannot assume any legal and / or criminal liability. when the concerns were directed to Germany. Embassy. In fact, according to German laws and regulations, the criminal offense giving rise to corporate criminal liability does not necessarily have to be committed in Germany. If a company is headquartered in Germany, the criminal liability of companies can also arise from criminal offenses committed abroad if they are related to the activity of the company.

Unfortunately, Armenia has not yet acceded to the Helsinki Convention on Transboundary Watercourses adopted in 1992. This international document serves as a mechanism to strengthen measures and global cooperation aimed at ensuring management and protection. environmentally sound transboundary surface and groundwater. Since Armenia denies any obligation to the international community for environmental protection under the law, the only way to stop this crime is to increase international awareness and pressure.

What we are seeing is that the Armenian government and German society are trying to avoid any sort of legal or moral liability for the continued damage to the environment. Therefore, the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Azerbaijan has made representations to international organizations on the environmental risks and the critical situation in Okhchuchay, in particular by raising public awareness of the environmental risks for the river and its ecosystem. in the face of continuous pollution. by Armenia. The Azerbaijani people also hope that the environmental costs of the conflict and the obligations of all responsible parties will be carefully assessed in accordance with the principles of international law.

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