THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) – Armenia has accused neighboring Azerbaijan of systematically promoting ethnic hatred against Armenian citizens, as the two nations that fought a six-week war last year clashed in a UN tribunal on Thursday.
Armenian representative Yeghishe Kirakosyan made the accusation in an open hearing at the International Court of Justice on a request by Armenia for judges to impose urgent interim measures to prevent Azerbaijan from violating an international convention to eradicate ethnic discrimination.
The case stems from a long-standing enmity that spilled over into last year’s war over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region that left more than 6,600 dead. The region is within Azerbaijan, but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since the end of a separatist war in 1994.
Kirakosyan said Armenia was 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 on Thursday afternoon. Azerbaijan has also brought a similar case alleging discrimination against its citizens by Armenia and has also applied to the world court to impose provisional measures. The hearings in the case of Azerbaijan are scheduled to start next Monday. Rulings on both applications are likely to be issued in the coming weeks.
Both nations’ cases alleging violations of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination will likely take years to reach conclusion in the Hague-based court.
Last year’s conflict ended when Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan signed a Russian-brokered ceasefire agreement that gave Azerbaijan control over parts of Nagorno-Karabakh and adjacent Armenian-occupied territories.
Armenia says that 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 actively defend and promote ethnic hatred against Armenians.”
It said that Azerbaijan has “arbitrarily captured, tortured and detained numerous members of the Armenian armed forces and civilians of ethnic Armenian origin” and “continues to destroy Armenian cultural heritage and religious sites or deny the Armenian character and economic controls of the territory.” .