Azerbaijani NGOs establish “Environmental Protection First” coalition

Azerbaijani NGOs establish “Environmental Protection First” coalition

Azerbaijan’s non-governmental organizations have made a statement to create a coalition in order to fight against Armenia’s flagrant violation of environmental norms and standards in the mining industry, according to Azerbaijan in Focus, reporting AzerTac.

The statement reads as follows:

“We, the undersigned non-governmental organizations of Azerbaijan, express our deep concern that Armenia’s economic activities, which have intensified through flagrant violations of environmental norms and standards for the mining industry, is leading the South Caucasus region with a population of more than 15 million to a disaster. In an effort to combine our efforts in the fight against that, we are announcing the establishment of an “Environmental Protection First” (EPF) coalition.

Inspections carried out by experts have revealed that the toxic chemical waste from Armenia’s mining enterprises is causing enormous damage to water resources and the environment on the border with Azerbaijan. In addition to preventing the return and undermining the safety of the population, this is just as disturbing as the destruction and the mine contamination of liberated areas.

Nikol Pashinyan’s failure to respond to the questions raised in a recent open letter of Azerbaijan’s civil society addressed to the Armenian prime minister regarding the serious concerns, the failure to provide opportunities for international experts to come to Armenia and evaluate the situation on the ground, and the failure to take into account the appeals of foreign NGOs with similar content have preconditioned the establishment of this coalition.

The coalition’s main tasks will be continuous monitoring of the processes in Armenia’s mining industry through all legal means and strengthening the fight against violations.

We are also hoping for the support of a number of civil society organizations of Armenia in this matter. After all, these issues pose a serious threat and health risks to the population of Armenia. We regret that the protests of a number of civil society organizations of Armenia, which understand this well, are ignored by local authorities and protesters are suppressed. We also want to become the voice of the Armenian civil society coerced into silence. We will be the voice of the entire population of the South Caucasus. We hope for the strong support of Georgian civil society in this matter as well.

At a time when the world community is working hard to address environmental problems by mobilizing its resources for the implementation of UN Sustainable Development Goals, Armenia’s behavior runs completely counter to these activities.

The coalition begins its work by reviewing the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) documents of foreign companies working in Armenia’s mining industry. We regret to say that our preliminary monitoring shows that the companies operating in Armenia are trying to cover up documents that should be open to the public.

We appeal to local and foreign companies operating in Armenia’s mining industry to publish the full text of EIA documents on their official websites as soon as possible or disclose them to the public. We want to get acquainted with these documents.

Within the framework of our activities, we intend to establish active communication and cooperation with the head offices of foreign companies operating in Armenia and relevant institutions of the countries they belong to, including international organizations.

Our activities will be fully transparent and accountable, and we will inform the public about our work on a regular basis.

We invite all interested parties to partner and cooperate with the EPF coalition.”

Signed by:

Amin Mammadov, “Experts in the Field of Water Use” Public Union;

Parvana Valiyeva, “Serving health” Public Union;

Sabit Baghirov, Entrepreneurship Development Foundation;

Gamza Yusubova, Environmental Education and Monitoring Public Union.