Armenians are “ruthlessly exploiting” mines in the southern Caucasus’ Karabakh region, according to representatives of Azerbaijani NGOs.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency on Tuesday, one NGO representative said the Armenians have “ruthlessly exploited” a mine in the region under the control of the Russian peacekeeping contingent and have almost plundered it.
"According to the information we have, 70% of the so-called Armenian administration's income is obtained from these mines belonging to Azerbaijan. We want the commander of the Russian forces to come here and listen to us. He should also promise that our experts will be allowed to conduct inspections in the mines," the representative added.
Separately, another NGO representative said that they wanted the illegal operation of the mines of Azerbaijan to be prevented, and that they would continue their protests until their demands are met.
On Sunday, Azerbaijan sent a diplomatic note to Russia concerning the "illegal exploitation" of natural resources in the liberated Karabakh region, as its officials were prevented from entering the area a day before.
A statement from the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said that illegal exploitation and looting of natural resources was observed, especially in the Kyzylbulag gold and Demirli copper-molybdenum mines.
The statement said negotiations were held between the two sides and an agreement was reached on Saturday, but still Azerbaijani officials were prevented from visiting the area.
Relations between the two former Soviet republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.
In the fall of 2020, in 44 days of clashes, Azerbaijan liberated several cities, villages, and settlements from Armenian occupation. The Russian-brokered peace agreement is celebrated as a triumph in Azerbaijan.
Since then, Russian peacekeeping troops have been deployed in the region.