By Sara Rajabova
The issue of the Sarsang reservoir, which has been under Armenian occupation for many years, was discussed at an October 1 meeting of the committee on social affairs, health, and sustainable development of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
Samad Seyidov, an Azerbaijani MP and head of Azerbaijan’s delegation to PACE, who took part at the meeting, told Trend that the committee discussed the report titled “Inhabitants of frontier regions of Azerbaijan are deliberately deprived of water” and committee members were once again informed about Armenia’s destructive policies.
Sarsang, Azerbaijan’s highest water reservoir, situated 726 meters above sea level, was built on top of the Tartar River during the Soviet times in 1976. Since 1992, the Sarsang reservoir has been under the control of the Armenian armed forces, and as a result, frontline regions have been deprived of water.
Armenia is not interested in the monitoring of the Sarsang water reservoir and with different pretexts rejects requests by the PACE rapporteur to observe the situation on the ground.
The committee meeting decided that if in the near future the Armenian side did not abandon its positions, a report on this issue would be prepared without them and submitted to PACE, Seyidov noted.
Milica Markovic, the rapporteur for the issue of the intentional deprivation of access to water for residents of border territories of Azerbaijan, repeatedly said she still could not visit Armenia and occupied Azerbaijani lands.
The committee earlier decided to appeal to the Armenian government with a letter urging cooperation with the rapporteur and requesting that she be given permission to visit.
However, Armenia continues to refrain from cooperating with the PACE rapporteur.
An MP from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Markovic was appointed the rapporteur on the Sarsang reservoir last May.
Armenia mobilized all resources to prevent the appointment of a rapporteur and even attempted to hinder the position at the state level.
Markovic visited Azerbaijan in late August and discussed the situation with Azerbaijani officials.
Markovic visited Azerbaijan for the first time in December 2014. After her visit, she was going to travel to Armenia, but the aggressor country and its supporters cancelled her trip.
During the 20 years of occupation, the technical facilities and equipment of the Sarsang reservoir are in dire conditions due to a lack of maintenance and up keep. The probability of the destruction as a result of malfunction, natural disaster, or sabotage is extremely high and is now a real threat for Azerbaijan.
Armenia uses the water reservoir to subject the six regions downstream to flooding by releasing runoff from the reservoir in winter months, and causes serious damage to the agriculture of nearby regions by preventing water runoff in the summer.
Seyidov further added that the Council of Europe will prepare and submit its report on Nagorno-Karabakh.
Noting that the Armenian side does not want to see a preparation of the report on Nagorno-Karabakh, Seyidov said their attitude toward this issue was obvious at a meeting of the PACE Committee on political affairs and democracy.
He noted that committee members not only protested against this attitude by the head of the Armenian delegation to PACE, but even threatened to suspend him from the committee.
It was noted that Armenia violates all the existing rules, and even if the Armenian side will not allow the rapporteur into the country, the Council of Europe will prepare and submit its report, Seyidov added.
Azerbaijan and Armenia have been locked in conflict for over two decades. Armenia occupied over 20 percent of Azerbaijan's internationally recognized territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions, after laying territorial claims against its South Caucasus neighbor that sparked a lengthy war in the early 1990s. The UN Security Council has adopted four resolutions on Armenian withdrawal, but they have not been enforced to date.