Environmental disaster committed by Armenia on Okhchuchay river is international crime German company also plays a role in this crime

After the collapse of the USSR in 1991, the South Caucasus became a hotbed of military conflicts. Armenia- Azerbaijan- Nagorno- Karabakh conflict, fueled back in the Soviet period, ultimately led to the occupation of 20% of Azerbaijani lands by Armenia.

Of course, occupation of Nagorno Karabakh, its seven nearby regions, extension of this occupation for about thirty years, along with the human victims, negatively impacted on the environment. Despite long- term peaceful negotiations and diplomatic efforts mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group, there were no results achieved on the liberation of Azerbaijani lands from the occupation of Armenia. Finally, military operations, which had started in September 2020 and lasted 44 days, ended with the victory of Azerbaijani army, and the territories occupied by Armenia were liberated from the enemy.  It was after the liberation of the territories of Azerbaijan that environmental crimes committed by Armenians in Karabakh and the matters that had remained secret to this day were revealed.

It was revealed that the usurpers caused for thirty years great damage, first of all, to the environment. It was revealed that due to the lack of necessary third-party control, groundwater, water sources, natural streams, including Okhchuchay, Aras river tributary, were exposed to critical pollution.

Okhchuchay tragedy

The river head of 83 km long Okhchuchay river is located in Gapijig mountain (3285 m) of Zangazur range. Major part of the river is located in Sunik region of Armenia (historical region of Azerbaijan called Zangazur). Its lower bed flows through the territory of Zangilan region liberated from Armenian occupation into Aras river. At the same time, being the largest right tributary of Kura river, Aras river is another transboundary river passing through the territory of Armenia and plays crucial role in irrigating arable lands of Azerbaijan.

However due to serious changes in the water quality in the river, its use for household and agricultural needs is able to lead to extremely negative effects. Thus, high content of heavy metals, especially copper, molybdenum, manganese, iron, zinc and chromium was found in the water samples taken by the experts of the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of the Republic of Azerbaijan (MENR) from Okhchuchay in January- June 2021. Pursuant to the monitoring reports of MENR, the content of the copper- molybdenum compound in the river was two, of iron – four and nickel – seven times higher than standard limits.

The colour of the river periodically changed due to the pollution. Massive mortality of Small Trout was observed in the river in March 2021. In order to attract the attention of international community to the matter related to ecological disaster in the river, Azerbaijan had to appeal to the authoritative laboratories of foreign countries. The analysis of the water and bottom deposits samples from the river was conducted at the request of MENR by internationally accredited and certified SGS laboratory (Germany). The test results of the water samples revealed high content of heavy metals, especially iron, copper, manganese, molybdenum, zinc, chromium, nickel, etc. in the waters of the river surface. It even revealed that the content of hazardous substances in the deposit samples exceeded standard limits several times, and the river pollution level was found to be critical. Aras river and Kura river to which it flows are the main rivers feeding the Caspian Sea. Polluting Okhchuchay with heavy metals directly affects the flora of the Caspian Sea.

Role of German company in the crime of Armenia

Not only Armenia is responsible for critical pollution of Okhchuchay river.  „Cronimet” company, Germany, which manages Gajaran copper- molybdenum and Gafan copper-refining combines, located at the source of the river in Armenia, also plays a role in this crime.  „Cronimet” company, headquartered in Karlsruhe, Germany, does not comply with environmental standards in its activities, so at present not only Zangilan region, Azerbaijan, but also nearby regions are faced the threat of environmental terror.

By the way, „Cronimet” company is in close relations with Armenian lobbying organization in Germany. Pursuant to the information received from this country, Günter Pilarsky, the founder and Executive director of “Cronimet” company, is also Honorary Consulate of Armenia in Baden Wuertemberg. Mikayel Minasyan, son-in-law of former Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, is a shareholder of Gajaran copper- molybdenum plant. There are indications that the former leadership of Armenia and „Cronimet” had corruptive partnerships. The company had been able to avoid taxes for many years.

But there is another interesting fact in this matter. Germany, which is considered to be a European country that complies with environmental standards, does not hurry to take appropriate steps against „Cronimet” company, which causes dangerous situation for other countries.

Thus, IDPs from Zangilan region appealed to German ambassador in Azerbaijan Wolfgang Manig for taking steps related to the activities of „Cronimet” company. They required urgent termination of the activities of mentioned company. They said that, otherwise, they should appeal to international courts related both to this organization committing environmental terror and to German government.

As we can see, Azerbaijan takes the problem related to Okhchuchay, extremely heavily polluted with heavy metals, seriously and is determined to solve this problem as soon as possible.

The necessity of the solution of environmental problem makes necessary joint activities at regional and international levels. Armenia, which causes a threat of environmental disaster in the region, is to be necessarily brought to justice. Because such the activities are considered to be international crime.

Salim Balayev

Chairman of Public Union

of Ecological Enlightenment „Ecolog-2010”

Baku, Azerbaijan



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