STRASBOURG, France, January 28, 2016 /PRNewswire/ --
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) this week adopted a resolution that accuses Armenia of "deliberately depriving" Azerbaijanis of water flowing from the Sarsang reservoir, which is located in the Armenian-controlled territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. It says that this "environmental aggression" requires "the immediate withdrawal of Armenian armed forces from the region concerned."
MP Milica Markovic from Bosnia and Herzegovina prepared the report, unambiguously entitled "Inhabitants of Frontier Regions of Azerbaijan are Deliberately Deprived of Water."
"The problem with providing the Azerbaijani population with drinking water is very important," Markovic said, adding that the use of water is an integral part of human rights, according to international conventions.
"PACE cannot ignore the problems of Nagorno-Karabakh and the sufferings of the ordinary people who are facing the shortage of water from the reservoir controlled by Armenia," Markovic said.
Behind the crisis is the continued occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and the seven surrounding Azerbaijani districts by Armenia, which has left the country in control of high-lying catchment areas as well as the unmaintained Sarsang dam. Markovic's report says Armenia has created an artificial environmental crisis by denying water to the once-productive agricultural regions of Azerbaijan that lie downstream.
As a PACE rapporteur, Markovic was tasked to investigate the water crisis and dangers caused by the lack of maintenance at the dam, which, she warned, could "result in a major disaster with great loss of human life and possibly a fresh humanitarian crisis."
She called 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.
"Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to undertake a visit to Armenia, owing to the lack of cooperation of the Armenian delegation," she said during the heated debate.
The adoption of the resolution is a victory for Azerbaijani MP and PACE member Elkhan Suleymanov, who has fought to raise awareness about the Sarsang issue for years.
"This resolution is a step in the right direction," Suleymanov said. "But the 400,000 people that live downstream are still in grave danger and the issue will only be resolved if Armenia adheres to international law and withdraws from the occupied territories."
Numerous international bodies, including the United Nations, European Parliament and the OSCE have adopted resolutions calling for the immediate withdrawal of Armenian troops from Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding Azerbaijani provinces. Newly elected PACE President Pedro Agramunt called the unresolved conflict one of the key challenges for the Strasbourg-based assembly.
SOURCE Azerbaijan Monitor