Armenia and Azerbaijan face each other in The Hague

2024-04-15 10:17:00, Kosova & Bota CNA

Armenia and Azerbaijan face each other in The Hague

Azerbaijan and Armenia will face off at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over accusations of "ethnic cleansing", as military tensions rise between the two historical enemies.

Lawyers from both countries will engage in interpretations of international law at the ICJ for two weeks.

Meanwhile, the two countries traded accusations earlier this month of opening fire on the border, dimming hopes for a lasting peace after decades of sporadic fighting.

The legal battle at the ICJ dates back to September 2021, when both sides sued each other.

Armenia and Azerbaijan accuse each other of "ethnic cleansing" and violation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

The ICJ, which rules on disputes between states, issued emergency orders in December 2021, calling on parties to prevent the promotion and incitement of racial hatred.

While ICJ orders are binding, the court has no mechanism to enforce them, and tensions between the parties rose, culminating in Azerbaijan's offensive in September last year in the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Baku took control of Karabakh after the offensive, causing the region's ethnic Armenian population – more than 100,000 people – to flee to Armenia.

A few weeks later, Armenia appealed to the ICJ, calling on it to order Azerbaijan to withdraw troops from Karabakh and allow Armenian refugees to return to their homes.

In November, the ICJ ordered Azerbaijan to allow anyone who wants to return to Karabakh to do so "in a safe and unhindered manner."

Hearings on this dispute begin on April 15 and will last until April 26. These hearings will address the objections raised by both sides in the original cases filed in September 2021.

The two former Soviet republics have fought two wars over control of Karabakh — the last in 2020 and the first in the 1990s — that have left thousands dead on both sides and displaced hundreds of thousands more.

The conflict has also strained relations between Russia and Armenia, with Yerevan saying Moscow did not do enough to help it when Azerbaijan went on the offensive in September.

In February, Armenia officially joined the ICJ, despite warnings from Moscow not to do so.

Yerevan is now obliged to arrest Russian President Vladimir Putin if he steps on Armenian territory, based on an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court in March of last year./ REL

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