Azerbaijan appealed to the UN’s highest court on Tuesday to immediately order Armenia to stop laying landmines and booby traps on Azerbaijani territory and to disclose the location of such explosives, the latest legal ruling already focused on mountain Nagorno. placed in battle. Karabakh region.
Azerbaijan’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Elnur Mammadov told judges at the International Court of Justice that his country has discovered more than 2,700 Armenian landmines since December 2021, when the court ordered both Azerbaijan and Armenia not to take any such action. Do what would add to their decades-long territorial dispute.
He said that the mines and booby traps are deliberate attempts by Armenia to prevent the return of Azerbaijanis forced from their homes by the conflict.
“If Azerbaijanis cannot so safely prepare free zones for the return of displaced persons, how can displaced Azerbaijanis exercise their right to return safely?” Mammadov said. “The purpose and effect of Armenia’s conduct is clear – the Azerbaijanis are not mean.”
The claim was made during a hearing at the court’s headquarters in The Hague alleging violations of the Convention Prohibiting Racial Discrimination by Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The legal skirmishes come against a backdrop of rising tensions just two years after the neighboring countries ended the war in Nagorno-Karabakh, which killed some 6,800 soldiers and displaced some 90,000 civilians. The remote and rugged region lies within Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since the end of a separatist war in 1994.
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Russia mediated a ceasefire to end the 2020 war. This gave Azerbaijan control over parts of Nagorno-Karabakh as well as land held by Armenians. Russia sent a peacekeeping force of 2,000 soldiers to maintain order.
Mammadov said that 282 Azerbaijanis, including 33 civilians, have been killed by mines since the end of the war.
“Planting land mines and booby traps in or near areas of Armenia where Azerbaijanis once lived – and are expected to return – specifically to terrorize Azerbaijanis three decades of ethnic cleansing and anti-Azerbaijani incitement should be understood in the wider context of the longer campaign,” he said.
At Monday’s hearing, Armenian lawyers urged the court to order Azerbaijan to break the road blockade isolating Nagorno-Karabakh, described as part of an act of “ethnic cleansing”. Azerbaijan rejected the claim, accusing Armenia of using the dispute as leverage in peace talks.
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The road, known as the Lachin Corridor, is the only land link between Armenia and the ethnically Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh region in Azerbaijan.
Lawyers representing Azerbaijan denied on Tuesday that their request for what the court called a “provisional measure” was filed as it was after Armenia’s request, which was discussed on Monday. Instead, he said the court order is important to save lives endangered by hidden explosives.
“The crux of the matter is this: Azerbaijanis are getting seriously hurt and dying because Armenia refuses to share information that could save them,” Mammadov said.
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The latest flare-up in tensions comes despite a court order a year ago ordering the two countries after the war to stop discrimination against each other’s citizens and not escalate the conflict.
The court will likely issue a legally binding ruling on the requests for temporary measures by both countries within weeks.
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