Foreign firms which operated occupied mines will be sued: Azerbaijan
President Ilham Aliyev demands 'compensation' from foreign firms, urges 'reimbursement of damages' caused in occupied lands
Azerbaijan will bring foreign firms which illegally operated the country's mines during nearly 30 years of Armenian occupation to international courts, seeking justice, said the country’s president on Tuesday.
"During the occupation (of Nagorno-Karabakh), Armenians also illegally looted our natural resources,” Ilham Aliyev told reporters.
“Some foreign companies helped them in this work. These companies now have two options: either they will pay us compensation or they will go to international court."
Speaking in the Lacin and Kalbajar districts, which were liberated from Armenian forces’ occupation last year, he stressed that legal proceedings have already been launched.
Azerbaijan “invited well-known international law firms, and lawsuits are being prepared now. Our gold deposits – Soyudlu in Kalbajar, Vejnali in Zangilan and elsewhere – were exploited by foreign companies. Didn't these companies know that this is Azerbaijani land? They did! But they ignored that," he added.
Aliyev underlined that those foreign firms "will be held accountable."
"We have said that if they don’t want us to embarrass them on a global scale, let them come and reimburse the damages to us, pay compensation, and then they can live comfortably," he said.
"For 30 years, the Armenians only exploited our lands, plundered natural resources, destroyed and demolished houses. And then claimed that this is Armenian land," said Aliyev.
"There has never been Armenian land here, and there never will be. This is the land of Azerbaijan. We, the Azerbaijanis, the owners of these lands, have returned," he said, referring to the Karabakh region, internationally recognized as Azerbaijani land.
Aliyev went on to say that Armenian side also destroyed about 60,000 hectares of trees and forests.
"They cut down and took away the trees. From what I heard, the parquet business was developing fast there. This is also looting. They will be held accountable for this looting too," he said.
The president also said the Armenian side poisoned rivers during their occupation.
"Look at the condition of the Okhchuchay River. The Okhchuchay is a natural disaster, and it’s a foreign company that did that. That company must and will be held accountable."
Aliyev said all the damage to all liberated lands, towns and villages is being calculated, adding that Azerbaijan will "demand compensation for all the damage" in international courts.
New clashes erupted between the former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia last September and ended on Nov. 10 with a Russia-brokered cease-fire.
Telling how Azerbaijan, at Russia’s request, gave extra time for the occupying forces to quit the territories, Aliyev said while leaving they followed a “scorched earth” policy.
"Even when they were about to leave after signing the act of capitulation, they asked us for time ... We showed humanism again. We gave time until Nov. 25. But what did they do in that time? They burned and destroyed houses that didn’t belong to them, the houses they lived illegally in. We can see those houses along the way. They cut down and burned the trees. This is Armenian savagery," he said.
Relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Upper Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.
During the 44-day conflict last year, Azerbaijan liberated several cities and nearly 300 settlements and villages from Armenia's nearly three-decade occupation.