Conference on Imminent Failure of Massive Sarsang Reservoir to be Held in September

Aug 21, 2013, 03:00 ET from Azerbaijan Monitor

BAKU, Azerbaijan, August 21, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

Academics, political leaders and journalists from across the globe will gather in Tartar, Azerbaijan, in early September to discuss the condition of the Sarsang reservoir in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, according to Elkhan Suleymanov, an Azerbaijani Member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

Armenia's use of the dam has exacerbated the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh and other Azerbaijani territories, occupied by Armenia since the cessation of the war between the two countries nearly two decades ago. The dam itself has been under Armenian control for 22 years.

In an interview with the Azerbaijan Press Agency, Suleymanov pointed out that Armenia's management of the reservoir has already created an ongoing crisis, eroding roads in nearby provinces when it is opened in the winter, and drying out surrounding farmland when it is closed in the summer. Yet because of Armenia's occupation of the region, the danger of this unfolding humanitarian tragedy has only recently come to light.

The 125-meter dam was built by Soviet engineers in 1976, and according to independent experts, is in urgent need of repair following two decades of neglect by Armenia. Those same experts predict that should the reservoir fail, the 65-meter wall of water that would follow poses a "catastrophic" threat to the 400,000 people who live downstream, whom Suleymanov described as the real "hostages" of the situation.

"The Sarsang reservoir has become a serious threat to Azerbaijan; this threat is becoming very real," Suleymanov said.

The conference will feature independent experts who will discuss the dam's danger of imminent failure, the repairs needed, and the consequences of failing to act.

Suleymanov noted that the purpose of the conference in September is to raise international awareness of the status of the reservoir, as well as the humanitarian and ecological dimensions to this latest tragedy resulting from the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The ultimate goal, he added, is to prompt international action to this potential crisis before it manifests, and if that fails, to prepare relief for the catastrophe when it happens.

Despite resolutions in the United Nations, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the European Parliament, Armenia still occupies 20 percent of Azerbaijani territory, a conflict that has displaced over one million Azerbaijanis.

SOURCE Azerbaijan Monitor