Yeghishe Kirakosyan

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Armenia urged judges at  United Nations International Court of Justice (ICJ)  Thursday to order Azerbaijan to release Armenians detained during a six-week war last year and to stop promoting ethnic hatred. Azerbaijan urged judges to reject the requests as the two nations faced off in a Hague courtroom.

Armenian representative Yeghishe Kirakosyan made the requests as a hearing opened at ICJ into a petition by Armenia for judges to impose urgent interim measures to prevent Azerbaijan breaching an international convention to stamp out ethnic discrimination.

“Azerbaijan captured, arbitrarily detained and tortured many Armenian servicemen and civilians and is now continuing to destroy Armenian cultural heritage and religious sites or deny their being Armenian,” he said.

Among measures Armenia wants the court to impose on Azerbaijan are an order to release and repatriate prisoners of war and halt hate speech aimed at Armenians.

Azerbaijan’s deputy foreign minister, Elnur Mammadov, said Armenia’s request “is defective, and must be rejected.”

Kirakosyan said Armenia wasn’t asking the court to rule on the root causes of the war, but “seeks to prevent and remedy the cycle of violence and hatred perpetrated against ethnic Armenians.”

Kirakosyan told the court that despite the deal that ended last year’s conflict, “Azerbaijan continues to espouse and actively promote ethnic hatred against Armenians.”

Azerbaijan also has filed a similar case alleging discrimination against its citizens by Armenia and also has requested the world court to impose interim measures. Hearings in the Azerbaijan case are scheduled to start next Monday.

Rulings on both requests will likely be issued in coming weeks. But both nations’ cases alleging breaches of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination will likely take years to reach their conclusion at the ICJ.

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