THE HAGUE (Reuters) -Armenia told judges at the World Court in The Hague on Thursday 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 denies, are part of a case it filed at the World 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.
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 ethic hatred and a culture where murder and torture of ethnic Armenians were “systematic”.
“Generations upon generations are indoctrinated into this culture of fear and hate of anything and everything Armenian,” Yeghishe Kirakosyan said.
Azerbaijzan’s deputy foreign minister Elnur Mammadov told the court via video link later on Thursday it was actually Armenia which was involved in “decades-long ethnic cleansing”.
Lawyers for Azerbaijan dismissed Armenia’s complaint as “obviously hopeless” and accused it of using the United Nation’s highest court to score political points.
In fighting late last year, Azeri troops drove ethnic Armenian forces out of swathes of territory they had controlled since the 1990s in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh region, before Russia brokered a ceasefire.
The World Court, formally known as the International Court of Justice, is the United Nations’ 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 a just weeks.
(Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg, Editing by William Maclean and Giles Elgood)