Azerbaijan denied the accusations made at the ICJ and accused Armenia of “ethnic cleansing for decades”.
Armenia has told judges at the International Court of Justice in The Hague that Azerbaijan promotes ethnic hatred against Armenians and called on the court to stop what its lawyers call a cycle of violence and hatred.
Armenia’s claims, which Azerbaijan has denied, are part of a case it filed in the United Nations’ highest court last month that says Azerbaijan has violated the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, of which both states are signatories.
Thursday’s hearing does not discuss the merits of the case, but deals with Armenia’s request for emergency measures to stop the alleged violations, while the court considers the claim.
The two former Soviet republics, which fought for six weeks late last year over Azerbaijan’s breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region, have filed separate cases with 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.
Armenian lawyers accused the Azerbaijani authorities of fomenting ethnic hatred and a culture in which the murder and torture of ethnic Armenians were “systematic”.
“With this application, Armenia seeks to prevent and remedy the cycle of violence and hatred perpetrated against ethnic Armenians,” said Yeghishe Kirakosyan, representative of Armenia.
“And in its request for provisional measures, Armenia urgently seeks to protect the rights of ethnic Armenians from imminent irreparable harm.”
Kirakosyan said that the six-week war that Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev “has openly admitted that Azerbaijan started in September 2020 is the latest link in this chain of ethnic violence and hatred.
“We fear it will not be the last until the roots of this conflict are addressed.
“Generations after generations are indoctrinated in this culture of fear and hatred for all things Armenian,” Kirakosyan said.
Azerbaijan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Elnur Mammadov told the court via video link later Thursday that it was actually Armenia that was involved in “decades of ethnic cleansing.”
Azerbaijani lawyers dismissed Armenia’s complaint as “obviously desperate” and accused it of using the UN tribunal to score political points.
In fighting late last year, Azerbaijani troops expelled ethnic Armenian forces from swaths of territory they had controlled since the 1990s in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh region, before Russia negotiated a halt on the fire.
The conflict claimed more than 6,500 lives.
The two sides have long traded allegations of rights abuses, including in last year’s war.
The ICJ, also known as the World Court, is the UN court for settling disputes between countries.
The court has yet to determine whether it has jurisdiction in this case. It will be years before the judges reach a final ruling in the case of Armenia against Azerbaijan, but they could decide on possible emergency measures in just a few weeks.