Azerbaijan asks World Court to order Armenia to help demining effort

FILE PHOTO: A general view shows the International Court of Justice in The Hague,

By Stephanie van den Berg

THE HAGUE (Reuters) -Azerbaijan on Tuesday called on judges at the World Court to order Armenia to help demine areas it previously controlled and stop planting explosive devices which prevent Azeri nationals from returning to their former homes.

Azerbaijan asked the court, as part of an ongoing larger case, to issue an emergency ruling to order Armenia to give information about the location of the devices to allow for safe demining and stop putting in new mines.

"Azerbaijanis are continuing to suffer serious injuries and die because Armenia refuses to share the information that could save them," Azerbaijan's deputy foreign minister Elnur Mammadov told the court.

Armenia's representative at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), as the tribunal is also known, denied that his country had laid landmines outside its own sovereign territories "let alone in civilian areas".

Yegishe Kirakosyan accused Azerbaijan of planting some of the mines allegedly found in Azeri areas.

On Monday, Armenia asked the court in a competing case to order Azerbaijan to lift a blockade of the Lachin corridor in the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Lachin corridor is the only route through which Armenia can provide food, fuel and medicine supplies to Nagorno-Karabakh, a region internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but home to around 120,000 ethnic Armenians.

The corridor has been blocked since Dec. 12, when protesters claiming to be environmental activists stopped traffic by setting up tents. Azerbaijan denies any blockade, saying the activists are staging a legitimate protest against illegal mining activity.

In October 2020, Azeri troops drove ethnic Armenian forces out of swathes of territory they had controlled since the 1990s in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh region, before Russia brokered a ceasefire.

In the following year Armenia and Azerbaijan filed competing cases at the World Court. Each claimed the other had violated a United Nations anti-discrimination treaty, to which both states are signatories.

It is not known when the judges will issue a decision on measures in both cases but it generally takes at least a few weeks.

(Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg; Editing by Christina Fincher)