Construction of illegal settlements in Azerbaijan’s occupied territories complicates any eventual discussions on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, reads a report released by the International Crisis Group.
Baku’s protests and the OSCE Minsk Group’s appeals have not constrained the settlements’ growth, Trend reports citing the International Crisis Group.
As reported, in October 2017, the illegal regime created in Nagorno-Karabakh identified expanding the settlement of the adjacent territories as a priority for 2017-2020.
In 2018, the illegal regime allocated $800,000 to populate and develop new settlements, according to the International Crisis Group.
The illegal regime in Nagorno-Karabakh increasingly questions any sort of peaceful coexistence with ethnic Azerbaijanis, reads the report.
“In 2015, the European Court on Human Rights ruled that Armenia exercises effective control over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding areas and therefore bears responsibility for them under the European Human Rights Convention. The case has increased Armenia’s concern that discussing settlements would amount to an admission of occupation, and thus its legal responsibility for Nagorno-Karabakh and the adjacent districts,” said the Group.
As reported, since 2016, Baku has intensified international outreach to warn countries against contacts with and aid or investment to settlements in the occupied territories. “It has gathered satellite imagery documenting the settlements’ expansion and hired lawyers to build its case for how they violate international law.”
The Azerbaijani government is now considering filing lawsuits in the European Court of Human Rights against the Armenian government, reads the report.
Yerevan does worry that the cases may bolster Azerbaijan’s stance that the territories are occupied, said the Group.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.
The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from Nagorno Karabakh and the surrounding districts.