BAKU, Azerbaijan, November 30, 2015 /PRNewswire/ --
The MP behind a report accusing Armenia of deliberately withholding water from parched Azerbaijani lands says Yerevan is using its occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh for the purposes of "environmental aggression".
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Rapporteur Milica Markovic was tasked with investigating the water crisis caused by the two decade occupation which has left Armenia in control of high-lying catchment areas and the Sarsang dam.
Her report, which was accepted by the PACE Committee of Social Affairs last week, was unambiguously titled Intentional Deprivation of the Residents of the Azerbaijani Border Regions of Water. It says Armenia has created an "artificial environmental crisis" by denying water to the once-productive agricultural regions of Azerbaijan that lie downstream.
It also expressed concern at the lack of maintenance at the Sarsang dam for the past two decades, warning that this could "result in a major disaster with great loss of human life and possibly a fresh humanitarian crisis."
Markovic has prepared a draft resolution for PACE which states: "The Assembly considers that the deliberate creation of an artificial environmental crisis must be regarded as 'environmental aggression' and seen as a hostile act by one state towards another".
On the danger posed by the dilapidated Sarsang dam, her resolution calls for Armenia to allow access by independent engineers and hydrologists to carry out a detailed on-the-spot survey - something Yerevan has so far refused. She has firmly condemned Armenia's lack of cooperation.
Behind this crisis is the continued occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and the seven surrounding Azerbaijani districts by Armenia. Markovic's resolution calls for the immediate withdrawal of Armenian armed forces and further states: "The Assembly deplores that the occupation by Armenia of Nagorno-Karabakh and other adjacent areas of Azerbaijan creates similar humanitarian and environmental problems for the citizens of Azerbaijan living in the lower Karabakh valley."
The report and subsequent draft resolution will be seen as a victory for Azerbaijani MP and PACE member Elkhan Suleymanov, who has fought to raise awareness of the Sarsang issue within Europe for the past three years.
"Of course I welcome Markovic's report as a first step," he said.
"The Sarsang dam needs urgent attention but ultimately, the 400,000 imperilled people living downstream will only have peace of mind when Armenia adheres to international law and leaves Nagorno-Karabakh and the seven surrounding districts."
SOURCE Azerbaijan Monitor