Armenia has told judges at the International Court of Justice in The Hague that Azerbaijan promotes ethnic hatred against Armenians and asked the court to stop what its lawyers call a cycle of violence and hatred.
Armenia’s assertions, which Azerbaijan has denied, are part of a case it filed at the United Nation’s highest court last month that says Azerbaijan has violated the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, to which both states are signatories.
Thursday’s hearing does not go into the merits of the case but instead deals with Armenia’s request for emergency measures to stop the alleged violations, while the court considers the claim.
Both of the former Soviet republics, who battled for six weeks late last year over Azerbaijan’s breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, have lodged separate cases at the ICJ.
After Armenia’s claim was made public, Azerbaijan filed a counterclaim accusing Armenia of violating the anti-discrimination treaty. Azerbaijan is also seeking that the court order protective measures while the case is ongoing.
Lawyers for Armenia accused Azerbaijan’s authorities of fostering ethnic hatred and a culture where murder and torture of ethnic Armenians were “systematic”.
“With this application, Armenia instead seeks to prevent and remedy the cycle of violence and hatred perpetrated against ethnic Armenians,” said Yeghishe Kirakosyan, Armenia’s representative.
“And in its request for provisional measures, Armenia urgently seeks to protect the rights of ethnic Armenians from imminent irreparable harm.”
Kirakosyan said the six-week war that Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev “has openly admitted Azerbaijan started in September 2020 is the most recent link to this chain of ethnic violence and hate.
“We fear that it will not be the last until the roots of this conflict are addressed.
“Generations upon generations are indoctrinated into this culture of fear and hate of anything and everything Armenian,” Kirakosyan said.
Azerbaijan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Elnur Mammadov told the court via video link later on Thursday that it was actually Armenia that was involved in “decades-long ethnic cleansing”.
Lawyers for Azerbaijan dismissed Armenia’s complaint as “obviously hopeless” and accused it of using the UN court to score political points.
In fighting late last year, Azeri troops drove ethnic Armenian forces out of swaths of territory they had controlled since the 1990s in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh region, before Russia brokered a ceasefire.
The conflict claimed more than 6,500 lives.
Both sides have long traded accusations of rights abuses, including in last year’s war.
The ICJ, also known as the World Court, is the UN court for resolving disputes between countries.
The court has yet to determine whether it has jurisdiction in this case. It will take years before judges reach a final ruling in the Armenia versus Azerbaijan case, but they could rule on possible emergency measures in just weeks.