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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Azerbaijan requests ICJ to order Armenia to cede mine maps

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Azerbaijan Monday applied to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), also known as World Court, to order neighboring Armenia to hand over maps showing the location of landmines in the Karabakh territories liberated by Azerbaijani forces from the nearly three-decade Armenian occupation last year, while the judges are also considering tit-for-tat claims that the other side violated an anti-discrimination treaty.

This time last year, Azerbaijani troops drove Armenian forces out of swathes of territory they had occupied since the 1990s in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh region, before Russia brokered a cease-fire.

Azerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister Elnur Mammadov told judges that the emergency measures sought were urgently needed to protect against the “dire threat” posed by Armenia’s refusal to hand over the maps.

The campaign of placing landmines “is quite simply a continuation of Armenia’s decadeslong ethnic cleansing operation and an attempt to keep these territories cleansed of Azerbaijanis,” Mammadov said.

Armenia will react to Azerbaijan’s claim about the landmines later in Monday’s hearing.

Last week, Armenia also sought emergency measures from the World Court. Lawyers for Armenia told judges then that Azerbaijan allegedly promoted ethnic hatred against Armenians.

Azerbaijan rejected Armenia’s claim and said that it was in fact the other way around and that it was Armenia that carried out ethnic cleansing.

The requests for emergency measures are part of tit-for-tat cases filed at the World Court last month where both Armenia and Azerbaijan claimed the other country has violated the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, to which both states are signatories.

The hearings on Monday and last week do not go into the merits of the cases but instead, deal with requests from both sides for emergency measures while the court considers the claims.

The World Court, formally known as the International Court of Justice, is the United Nations court for resolving disputes between countries. It has yet to determine whether it has jurisdiction in this case.

While the two rival Caucasus countries accuse each other of violations during last year’s armed conflict, both sides have also sent warm messages to improve the broken ties.

Most recently, Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov said last week that Azerbaijan is ready to normalize its relations with Armenia under the scope of international legal principles, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

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

Fresh clashes erupted between Armenia and Azerbaijan in late September, rekindling the Caucasus neighbors’ decadeslong conflict over the region. During the conflict, Azerbaijan liberated several towns and nearly 300 settlements and villages from Armenian occupation.

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