In an opinion piece for Euractiv, author Naghi Ahmadov wrote about how the Nagorno-Karabakh region’s ecosystem, wildlife, and natural resources have been badly damaged during the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Despite the fact that the Armenians moved to these Azerbaijani regions only after their occupation in the war of the early 1990s, they found it unacceptable to hand those territories back to Azerbaijanis. Media reports showed Armenians in Kalbajar burning houses, cutting down trees, and setting fire to forests before they left the region. It has been reported that they did not shy away from burning down schools and hospitals and butchering the cattle. Unfortunately, these acts have not received an adequate reaction from the international institutions and NGOs that deal with environmental issues, Ahmadov underined.
“All these unlawful acts need to be strongly condemned; but, more dramatically than demolishing the buildings, the inhumane attacks against the environment shocked Azerbaijani society and fueled anger, primarily among those people who had been displaced by Armenia from these territories back in the 1990s. Unfortunately, this environmental terror against the occupied regions of Azerbaijan started at the very beginning of the occupation. The region’s ecosystem, wildlife, and natural resources have been violently destroyed over the last 27 years.” Ahmadov said in the article.
According to Rusif Huseynov, co-founder and director of the Topchubashov Center, an independent think tank based In Baku, during the Armenian ecocide of the region, more than 260,000 hectares of forests were destroyed
Like Ahmadov, Huseynov also noted the international community’s silence when it comes to condemning such acts from the Armenian side.
“The victimhood narrative constructed by the Armenians for over 100 years would usually and by default gain them international (mostly Western) sympathy in regional disputes. Unfortunately, the international community may still act according to stereotypes, which point to the Azerbaijanis as culprits in the current conflict, despite the fact that it was Azerbaijan whose territories remained under the Armenian occupation for over two decades, while some 700,000 Azerbaijanis had to bear the status of internally displaced persons (IDPs).” Huseynov tells Conflict & War Report.
The same ignorant attitude is observed in regard with the material culture in the region, Huseynov added.
“While many express concern about the fate of Armenian churches to be returned under Azerbaijani control, almost no one (except for Azerbaijanis) cares about what has happened to the Azerbaijani heritage in the occupied territories. The advancing Azerbaijani soldiers would every time arrive in ghost towns razed to the ground. The remaining few mosques had been turned into pigsties (the biggest insult for Muslims) by the Armenians, who portrayed the only surviving mosque in Shusha as Iranian in order to erase Azerbaijani traces from the area.” Huseynov said.
Such an attitude from the international community has unfortunately disappointed many Azerbaijanis, including Western-oriented and Western-educated youth, who now accuse the international community and media of having bias and double standards, Huseynov explains.
Relations between the two former Soviet republics have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions, Anadolu Agency writes.
Fresh clashes erupted on September 27, and the Armenian army continued its attacks on civilians and Azerbaijani forces, even violating three humanitarian cease-fire agreements for over six weeks.
Baku liberated several strategic heights, cities and nearly 300 of its settlements and villages from the Armenian occupation during this time. Before the second Karabakh war, about 20% of Azerbaijan’s territory had been under illegal Armenian occupation for nearly three decades.