Armenia accuses Azerbaijan of ‘cycle of hate’ at UN court
Armenia accused Azerbaijan on Thursday of fuelling ethnic hatred as the two rivals who fought a short but bloody war last year faced off in a bitter battle at the UN’s top court.
Lawyers for Armenia asked the International Court of Justice in the Hague to take emergency measures against Azerbaijan pending full resolution of a case that could take years.
Both of the former Soviet republics, who battled for six weeks last autumn over Azerbaijan’s breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, have lodged separate cases at the ICJ.
“With this application, Armenia seeks to prevent and remedy the cycle of violence and hatred perpetrated against ethnic Armenians,” said Yeghishe Kirakosyan, Armenia’s representative.
“In its request for provisional measures, Armenia urgently seeks to protect the rights of ethnic Armenians from imminent irreparable harm.”
Kirakosyan said last year’s war was the most recent link to the “chain of ethnic violence and hate”.
“We fear that it will not be the last until the roots of this conflict are addressed,” he said.
Azerbaijan authorities were indoctrinating “generations upon generations” into a “culture of fear, of hate of anything and everything Armenian”, the Armenian lawyer said.
Nagorno-Karabakh is an ethnic Armenian region of Azerbaijan that broke away from Baku’s control in the early 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict last year claimed more than 6,500 lives.
The war ended in November with a Russian-brokered ceasefire under which Armenia ceded territories it had controlled for decades to Turkish-backed Azerbaijan, but tensions remain high.
– ‘Racist ideology’ –
In their ICJ cases, both countries accuse the other of breaching a UN treaty, the International Convention on All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD).
Azerbaijan is due to present its case in full next week, but it rejected Armenia’s “inaccurate picture” on Thursday and defended its actions in Nagorno-Karabakh.
“Armenia’s policy and practice of ethnic cleansing is rooted in a racist ethno-nationalist ideology,” Elnur Mammadov, Azerbaijani deputy foreign minister, told the ICJ.
“By moving to liberate its territories from Armenia’s illegal occupation Azerbaijan was acting… not out of ethnic animus, but in response to blatant and unlawful use of force.”
Armenia’s representatives meanwhile also asked the judges to order the immediate release of Armenian prisoners of war.
They further demanded the closure of Azerbaijan’s so-called Military Trophies Park, where they say wax mannequins of Armenian troops with “exaggerated Armenophobic features” are displayed, and of which the judges were shown pictures.
Baku’s representatives said the mannequins had been removed from the park.
Armenia’s representatives described alleged videos of gruesome torture of captured Armenian soldiers, copies of which they said had been handed to the court.
They also accused Baku of “erasing Armenian cultural heritage in the region” especially in Nagorno-Karabakh and asked the judges to intervene.
Satellite photos showed that earlier this year an “historic” Armenian cemetery was paved over to build a road, they said.
“Azerbaijan is literally paving over Armenian history,” said another lawyer for Armenia, Larry Martin.