By Vafa Ismayilova
Azerbaijan has initiated a criminal case against Armenia over the latter's ecological terror during the 30-year occupation of the country's Karabakh region and adjacent seven districts, the Prosecutor-General's Office said on June 21.
The law-enforcement agency added that based on the results of the investigations, solid suspicions arose that, following the Armenian military and political leadership's instructions, Armenia's armed forces "once again demonstrated their barbarism and illegally cut down 1,818 trees of various types in Lachin region, which has rare flora and fauna, thereby causing material damage to our country in the amount of AZN 1,511,330 [$889,551]".
The report added that the Prosecutor-General's Office initiated a criminal case under Azerbaijani Criminal Code Article 259.2.4 (illegal cutting of trees causing large-scale damage) and other articles and that the investigation department was instructed to conduct a preliminary investigation.
The Prosecutor-General's Office recalled that the Armenian armed forces, grossly violating the basic norms and principles of international law, as well as the requirements of the 1979 European Convention on the Conservation of Wildlife and Natural Habitats, committed environmental terrorism against Azerbaijan to inflict extensive, long-term and serious damage to the country's environment through the deliberate destruction of forests with valuable and perennial trees, which are considered a natural resource of Azerbaijan.
Armenia’s three-decade occupation of Azerbaijani territories extensively damaged the ecosystem, wildlife and natural resources in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Armenians also resorted to large-scale acts of ecological terror in regions they had to leave under the trilateral November peace deal that stipulated the return of Azerbaijan’s occupied territories.
The clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan escalated for the second time in 2020 after Armenia's forces deployed in the occupied Azerbaijani lands targeted Azerbaijani civilian settlements and military positions, causing casualties among civilians and the military. In the early hours of September 27, Azerbaijan launched a counter-offensive operation that lasted six weeks. The operation resulted in the liberation of Azerbaijan's occupied lands.
A Russia-brokered ceasefire deal that Azerbaijan and Armenia signed on November 10, 2020, brought an end to the 44-day war between the two countries. The Azerbaijani army declared a victory against the Armenian troops. The signed agreement obliged Armenia to withdraw its troops from the Azerbaijani lands that it had occupied.
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