Artsakh authorities on Wednesday announced that a copper mine operating in the region will temporarily halt its operation, citing the now 17-day-long Azerbaijani blockade of the Lachin Corridor.
The Artsakh authorities also announced that it has officially applied for the deployment of an international observer mission there in order to provide an objective assessment of the environmental impact of the mine and its operations.
The group of Azerbaijani posing as environmental activists who have kept the Lachin Corridor blockaded for 17 days are alleging that the mine is operating illegally and are claiming that the mine’s operation is causing ecological harm.
In a statement, the Artsakh government said on Wednesday that it is seeking international mediation because the so-called Azerbaijani activists are attempting to mislead the international community.
“The Government of the Republic of Artsakh once again reaffirms that the mining industry in Artsakh is carried out according to the highest international standards, the regulation of which was determined through legislation,” the statement said.
“However, taking into consideration, the unhealthy atmosphere created by the “eco-activists” of the neighboring country and the attempts to mislead the international community, it was decided to turn to international organizations to conduct an international ecological examination related to the activities of the Base Metals company,” added the Artsakh government statement.
The Artsakh authorities said that decision to temporarily halt the mining operations was made in collaboration with the company’s management.
“The Government of the Republic of Artsakh has appealed to the relevant structures of the United Nations and other international professional organizations to organize the implementation of the inspection in a short period of time,” said the statement.
The Artsakh government also emphasized that it has always maintained the optimum international standards in mining sector and wants “international environmental standards to be applied to all mining companies in the entire region.”
Azerbaijan said on Tuesday that protests blocking the Lachin Corridor would be suspended if monitors were given access to what it calls “illegal mining sites.”
Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov said at a news conference that Baku had for more than a year been demanding access to monitor mining sites in Karabakh that it says are being illegally exploited, Reuters reported.
“The demand of the Azerbaijani side and the environmental activists is that the state organs of Azerbaijan must have the possibility to visit, conduct monitoring and observe the situation at these mining sites,” said Bayramov.
Armenia’s Human Rights Defender Kristinne Grigoryan said Wednesday that the United Nations Human Rights office should send a fact-finding mission to Lachin Corridor.
The UN Human Rights office on Tuesday called for the immediate opening of the Lachin Corridor, warning of severe humanitarian crisis in the region.