According to the Azerbaijani government, a landmine field was recently found in Sarybaba with about 350 landmines planted in the area. It was reported that despite repeated calls for accurate landmine maps, Armenia has not taken any practical steps in this regard. After the Second Karabakh War, hundreds of civilians were killed or severely injured in landmine blasts. Due to the widespread problem of landmines in the Karabakh region, the Azerbaijani government together with ANAMA hosted a conference titled “Mine Action Challenges and Opportunities” between November 15th and 18th, 2022.
Emil Hasanov, the deputy chairman of the Public Council under ANAMA, stated in an interview that the conference brought together the representatives of mine affected countries such as Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Croatia, Mauritania, Sudan, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and representatives of international companies in Sweden, Israel, the US, Turkey, Belgium and other places: “This conference served as a platform for the exchange of experiences and challenges, lessons learned and the best practices that can increase the efficiency and safety of humanitarian mine action operations.”
Roy Nahari, the founder and CEO of Open Minded Solutions Ltd., an Israeli demining company, took part in the conference and stated: “Participating in the distinguished conference in Baku was a great honor for me and I thank its organizers for the invitation and the warm welcome. I was happy to meet at the conference senior and respected representatives from all over the world, dealing in the field of mine clearance and to be the first Israeli representative to take part in this type of conference in Azerbaijan.”
According to him, “I participated in the opening panel of the conference, where I was given the opportunity to share with the conference attendees the steps taken in Israel regarding mine clearance and our vision for the future. I also got to share my many years of knowledge and experience we have gained in this field.”
“During the conference, we were informed with great excitement about the welcome decision of the government of Azerbaijan to open an official embassy in Israel,” Nahari noted, adding “Open Minded Solutions Ltd. is proud of its contribution to strengthening relations and cooperation between the countries in another civilian field, and I have no doubt that we will continue to do so in the future as well.”
According to Hasanov, Israel has great experience to offer in the field of demining and noted that Azerbaijan has a lot in common with Israel, and in the wake of the opening of the embassy, we can cooperate even more related to mind clearance: “We should get experience from Israel. They have a lot of experience working in different terrains that can help us. Nowadays, Azerbaijan is struggling to eliminate the legacy of thirty years of occupation of Azerbaijani land by Armenia, resulting in the planting of more than one million landmines on occupied territories by the Armenian Armed Forces. As a result, Azerbaijan joined the list of highly landmine affected countries in Europe alongside Croatia, Ukraine and others.”
He noted that the conference participants were brought to Agdam and were shocked by what they saw there: “They witnessed the terrible destruction and the environmental disaster committed by the Armenian Armed Forces. Now, Azerbaijan is working on the eradication of the remnants of war by all means as well as the improvement of the social integration of about 70,000 IDPs. However, it is impossible to return the IDPs back to their homeland until it is completely free of landmines and the remnants of war.”
According to Hasanov, “Azerbaijan allocates its efforts towards the demining of territories to find an effective solution to the mining problem. International assistance will save lives, enable IDPs to return to their homes in safety and with dignity and will ensure the sustainable development of the affected areas and people. Thus, it can be reasonable to add the eradication of landmines to the 17th sustainable development goals as number 18.”