Azerbaijan sues Armenia over ‘extensive destruction’ of wildlife, natural habitats in Karabakh

Azerbaijan on Thursday said it filed a lawsuit for inter-state arbitration under the Bern Convention, aimed at holding Armenia accountable for "extensive destruction" of environment and biodiversity during its nearly 30 years of occupation of Karabakh.

The Foreign Ministry said Baku has collected evidence of Yerevan’s destruction of the environment in Karabakh, internationally recognized as the territory of Azerbaijan, adding that severe harm was caused to the area’s nature and biodiversity.

“Armenia’s widespread deforestation, unsustainable logging, and pollution through significant construction and mining in areas that were protected nature reserves prior to occupation has put over 500 wildlife species at risk in Azerbaijan,” the statement said.

It added that there is visual evidence showing the scale of deforestation in the region, including the destruction of habitats to build the Demirli-1 copper-molybdenum mine, the Galacha hydropower plant in Lachin, and the Chardaghli coal mine.

Armenia’s actions have also caused extraordinary levels of river pollution, the ministry claimed.

“In keeping with the United Nations’ Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, Azerbaijan calls on the international community to condemn Armenia’s appalling destruction during the occupation of one of the world’s most rich and biodiverse ecosystems,” the statement said.

“Within the framework of arbitration, Azerbaijan demands to order Armenia to cease all ongoing violations of the Bern Convention, and pay full reparation for its environmental destruction in the formerly occupied territories."

Relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.

In the fall of 2020, during 44 days of heavy fighting, Azerbaijan liberated a significant part of Karabakh and a Russian-brokered peace agreement was subsequently signed.

Tensions are said to have ignited again because of protests by Azerbaijani environmental activists on the Lachin road connecting Karabakh to Armenia.

Yerevan has called on Russian peacekeepers deployed in the region to monitor the peace deal while also claiming that the road is blocked by the demonstrations, something Baku denies.

Source: Anadolu Agency