Sarsang, source of humanitarian, environmental catastrophe

By: Sara Rajabova

Sarsang water reservoir has become a source of humanitarian, environmental and man-made catastrophe.

Elmar Mammadyarov, Azerbaijan`s Foreign Minister made the remark during a meeting with a delegation led by Milica Markovic, rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on “The inhabitants of the frontier regions of Azerbaijan who have been deliberately denied access to water”, Foreign Ministry said.

Sarsang, the highest water reservoir of Azerbaijan is located 726 meters above the sea level was built on the Tartar River during the Soviet times in 1976.

Since 1992, the reservoir has been under the control of the Armenian armed forces. As a result, the frontline regions have been deprived of its water.

Markovic, for her part, said the problems created by Sarsang water reservoir and Tartar River for local inhabitants would be the main target of the report.

Mammadyarov further spoke of the current status of negotiation on the settlement of Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

He stressed that the continuation of occupation of Azerbaijani territories by Armenia remains the major source of problem. He also called for peaceful settlement of the conflict saying first and foremost, the Armenian armed forces must withdraw from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. He noted that the occupation and aggression has to be eradicated.

The sides also exchanged views over the issues of mutual concern.

As a result of the Armenian occupation following a brutal war in the early 1990s, seven regions of Azerbaijan can no longer use water from the reservoir which is currently in an emergency situation, because it has not been maintained due to the occupation.

Engineers and hydrologists have predicted that if the dam breaks down, more than 30 villages would be ruined by flood. The risk of a disaster is currently very high and the lives of 400,000 Azerbaijani citizens who live in the six regions downstream are in danger.

Azerbaijan and Armenia have been locked in a conflict for over two decades. Armenia occupied over 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions, after laying territorial claims against its South Caucasus neighbor that sparked a lengthy war in the early 1990s. The UN Security Council has adopted four resolutions on Armenian withdrawal, but they have not been enforced to date.