THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) – Armenia has accused neighboring Azerbaijan of systematically promoting ethnic hatred against Armenian citizens, as the two nations that waged a six-week war last year clash Thursday before a UN tribunal.
Armenian representative Yeghishe Kirakosyan brought the accusation during an open hearing at the International Court of Justice on a demand by Armenia asking judges to impose urgent interim measures to prevent Azerbaijan from violating an international convention aimed at eliminate ethnic discrimination.
The case stems from a long-standing feud that turned into last year’s war in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, which left more than 6,600 dead. The region is part of Azerbaijan but has been under the control of Armenian ethnic forces backed by Armenia since the end of a separatist war in 1994.
Kirakosyan said Armenia is not asking the court to rule on the root causes of the war, but “seeks to prevent and remedy the cycle of violence and hatred perpetrated against ethnic Armenians.”
Lawyers representing Azerbaijan were due to address the court later Thursday. Azerbaijan also filed a similar complaint alleging discrimination against its citizens by Armenia and also asked the World Court to impose interim measures. Hearings in the Azerbaijan case are scheduled to start next Monday. Decisions on both requests will likely be made in the coming weeks.
The cases of the two countries alleging violations of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination will likely take years to reach the tribunal in The Hague.
Last year’s conflict ended when Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan signed a Russian-brokered ceasefire agreement that granted Azerbaijan control of parts of Nagorno-Karabakh as well as adjacent territories occupied by Armenians.
Armenia says more than 3,700 Armenians and residents of Nagorno-Karabakh died in the war. Azerbaijan said it lost 2,900 people.
Kirakosyan told the court that despite the agreement that ended last year’s conflict, “Azerbaijan continues to espouse and actively promote ethnic hatred against Armenians.”
He said that Azerbaijan has “arbitrarily captured, tortured and detained numerous members of the Armenian armed forces and civilians of Armenian ethnicity” and “continues to destroy Armenian cultural heritage and religious sites or to deny the Armenian character. and the economic controls of the territory ”.