THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Azerbaijan appealed to the United Nations’ top court on Tuesday to urgently order Armenia to stop planting landmines and landmines on Azerbaijani territory and to reveal the location of such explosives that have already been planted in the latest legal battle focused on the mountainous Nagorno region. -Karabakh.
Azerbaijan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Elnur Mammadov told judges at the International Court of Justice that his country had discovered more than 2,700 Armenian landmines since December 2021, when the court ordered both Azerbaijan and Armenia not to take any action that would worsen their decades. a long territorial dispute.
He said that mines and mines are a deliberate attempt by Armenia to prevent the return of Azerbaijanis who were forced to leave their homes due to the conflict.
“If the Azerbaijanis preparing the liberated territories for the return of the displaced cannot do so safely, how can the displaced Azerbaijanis safely exercise their right to return?” Mammadov said. “The purpose and effect of Armenia’s behavior is clear – Azerbaijanis are not on trial.”
The lawsuit came at hearings at the court’s headquarters in The Hague in a pair of cases brought by Armenia and Azerbaijan alleging violations of the Convention on the Prevention of Racial Discrimination.
The legal tussle comes against a backdrop of rising tensions just over two years after the neighboring nations ended a war in Nagorno-Karabakh that has killed some 6,800 soldiers and displaced some 90,000 civilians. The remote and rugged region is inside Azerbaijan, but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since the end of the 1994 separatist war.
Russia brokered a ceasefire to end the war in 2020. It gave Azerbaijan control over parts of Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as neighboring Armenian-occupied land. Russia sent a peacekeeping force of 2,000 soldiers to maintain order.
Mammadov said 282 Azerbaijanis, including 33 civilians, have been killed by landmines since the end of the war.
“Armenia’s placement of landmines and traps in or near areas where Azerbaijanis once lived – and are expected to return – specifically to terrorize Azerbaijanis must be understood in the broad context of its more than three-decade-long campaign of ethnic cleansing and anti-Azerbaijani incitement,” he said.
In hearings on Monday, Armenian lawyers urged the court to order Azerbaijan to dismantle the roadblock isolating Nagorno-Karabakh, calling the action part of an act of “ethnic cleansing.” Azerbaijan rejected the claim, accusing Armenia of using the dispute to create leverage in peace talks.
The road, known as the Lachin Corridor, is the only land link between Armenia and the ethnic Armenian regions of Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan.
Lawyers representing Azerbaijan denied on Tuesday that their request for what the court called “provisional measures” was a head-to-toe submission after Armenia’s request, which was discussed on Monday. Instead, they said the court order was vital to saving lives threatened by hidden explosives.
“The bottom line is this: Azerbaijanis continue to suffer serious injuries and die because Armenia refuses to share information that could save them,” Mamadov said.
The latest flare-up of tensions comes despite a court issuing orders just over a year ago that included ordering both nations to prevent discrimination among citizens after the war and not to escalate the conflict.
The court is likely to issue a legally binding decision on both countries’ requests for interim measures within weeks.