No:581/22, Information of the Press Service Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan on the briefing held for the diplomatic corps accredited in Azerbaijan
On December 13, 2022, a briefing was held for the diplomatic corps and military attachés accredited in Azerbaijan at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the participation of Hikmat Hajiyev, Assistant to the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, and Elnur Mammadov, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
During the briefing, detailed information was provided to the participants on protests of the representatives of civil society and environmentalists of Azerbaijan stemming from the obstruction of representatives of state institutions and specialists of the Republic of Azerbaijan into the territory for the purpose of preliminary monitoring of the illegal exploitation of natural resources, as well as the deterioration of the ecological situation in the territories of Azerbaijan, where the peacekeeping contingent of the Russian Federation is temporarily deployed.
Hikmat Hajiyev, Assistant to the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan stressed that the illegal exploitation of natural resources in the mentioned territories of Azerbaijan should be stopped, and the exploitation of all natural resources should be carried out in accordance with the legislation of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Creation of the working group on assessment of risks and potential damage to the environment, underground and surface water sources and elimination of the consequences of the damage, on-site inspection of all mineral deposits, including Gizilbulag gold and Demirli copper-molybdenum deposits, stopping of illegal exploitation, monitoring and inventorying in various directions, and organization of property cadastral records was mentioned.
Since December 3, 2022, a group of experts from the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources, the State Property Service under the Ministry of Economy and AzerGold CJSC held negotiations with the command of the peacekeeping contingent on the illegal exploitation of mineral deposits, as well as on environmental and other secondary consequences in the territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan where the Russian peacekeeping contingent is temporarily deployed.
Notwithstanding the fact that, in accordance with the agreement reached on December 10, the representatives of Azerbaijan attempted to visit these two areas where minerals are illegally exploited, this visit was prevented.
H.Hajiyev said that the protest carried out by Azerbaijani civil society and environmental activists on the Shusha-Lachin road during the last two days is an indicator of the legitimate dissatisfaction of the Azerbaijani society, and this position should be respected.
During the speech, the claims of the Armenian side about the alleged blocking of the Lachin road, the humanitarian disaster in the region, and the implementation of ethnic cleansing were firmly rejected. He noted the importance of preventing Armenia from using the Lachin-Khankendi road for military purposes, transporting mines and looted natural resources.
Touching upon the military crimes and illegal economic activities during the occupation by the former leaders of Armenia, R. Kocharyan and S.Sargsyan, the Assistant of the President noted that Ruben Vardanyan, who is now a criminal businessman, will not be allowed to loot Azerbaijan’s natural resources, and cause serious damage to the environment.
It was mentioned that the road to Lachin was closed not by Azerbaijani protesters, but by the peacekeeping contingent of the Russian Federation. He said that the representatives of civil society of Azerbaijan try to prevent the illegal transportation of looted natural resources, and do not interfere with the matters of movement of other vehicles for civilian purposes.
In general, he pointed out that the comments of the Armenian government regarding the events taking place within the territories of Azerbaijan are an indication of that Armenia’s territorial claims against Azerbaijan are still ongoing. Besides, it was said that such statements contradict the once again accepted commitments by the Prime Minister of Armenia in Prague and Sochi to respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Azerbaijan.
During his speech, Elnur Mammadov, Deputy Foreign Minister informed about the illegal exploitation of minerals, non-ferrous and ferrous metals, mineral waters, as well as other potable water resources and illegal economic activity during the 30-year occupation of Azerbaijani territories by Armenia. Involvement of many foreign companies in such illegal activities, including "Base Metals" ("Vallex Group"), "GeoProMining", "GoldStar" and other companies, were brought to attention.
It was stated that the illegal economic activity carried out by the Republic of Armenia grossly violates the requirements of international conventions and creates legal responsibility for Armenia. In this context, the Deputy Foreign Minister informed about the legal measures taken against the companies engaged in illegal extraction of non-ferrous metals.
As a result of Armenia’s environmental terror policy, it was emphasized that the amount of heavy metals in Okhchuchay, flowing through the territory of Azerbaijan into the Araz River, has repeatedly exceeded the norms. The fact that Armenia almost blocked the water flow in the Sarsang reservoir during the occupation, and that water was released from the reservoir into the canal only in winter months in order to create a flood and expose the territories to ecological terror, was brought to attention.
Detailed information was provided on the illegal extraction of gold by Armenia in mineral deposit fields of Soyudlu in Kalbajar district and Vejnali in Zangilan district, appropriation of our natural resources, and the exposure of surrounding areas to pollution.
Deputy Foreign Minister mentioned that the facts of illegal economic activities carried out in our formerly occupied territories, as well as illegal exploitation of natural resources have been recorded in reports and resolutions adopted by the OSCE, UN Development Program (UNDP), Environment Program (UNEP), Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).
Taking into account the above-mentioned facts, the importance of immediately stopping the illegal economic activity in the territories of Azerbaijan, where the peacekeeping contingent is temporarily deployed, was pointed out.