Ecologist Gamza Yusifova: "Our action on the Lachin road is not political"

Interview by Daria Melekhova, exclusively for Vestnik Kavkaza
Ecologist Gamza Yusifova: "Our action on the Lachin road is not political"

In the zone of temporary deployment of Russian peacekeepers in Karabakh, a protest action of representatives of non-governmental organizations of Azerbaijan has been taking place for the 34th day. The chairperson of the public association "Environmental education and monitoring", a member of the Public Council under the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Azerbaijan Gamza Yusifova, told Vestnik Kavkaza correspondent Daria Melekhova, who arrived on the Lachin road as part of an international delegation of journalists, about what ecologists are striving for and what is happening in the territories liberated from occupation.

- What is the purpose of your action?

- We are holding a peaceful action against ecological terror on our historical lands. Our natural resources, our riches are being illegally exploited and we want to prevent them from being plundered. This is our responsibility to future generations. How will we look into their eyes if our natural resources are plundered? If we don't stop it now, what will we pass on to future generations?

The roads are open, the vehicles of the peacekeepers and the Red Cross are moving freely, the humanitarian line is open and there are no barriers. But we insist on the creation of normal conditions for environmental monitoring in those territories where our resources are being illegally exploited. We will achieve our goal and stop ecoterror!

- What resources are illegally used?

- In those territories where we cannot monitor the situation, gold and copper-molybdenum resources are illegally exploited. We have been here since December 12, but they do not create conditions for monitoring. If nothing illegal is being done there, why aren't we given the opportunity to verify this?

- And who should create the conditions for monitoring?

- There are Russian peacekeepers in these territories. When on December 7 our environmentalists went to carry out monitoring, accompanied by peacekeepers, three jeeps with Armenian extremists, separatists arrived there. As a result, monitoring was not carried out. After that, representatives of our civil society, NGOs, environmentalists gathered here. The commander of the Russian peacekeeping forces, Andrey Volkov, did not contact us for several days, but then he recognized our right to conduct monitoring, although he did not mention a specific date. Therefore, we decided to wait until the exact time was announced to us. This has been going on for a month now.

- Do you live here or come every day?

- We came from Baku and stayed with local residents. We buy food in local stores. People welcomed us with open arms. This month we've become close to each other. We live as one family. As the saying goes "the more, the merrier". We will not leave until our demands are fulfilled.

- How can you assess the development of the liberated lands?

- A lot of work is being done. The territories liberated from Armenian occupation are being restored. Airports and infrastructure are being built. All this is being done at a very high level. Azerbaijan is a rich country, and our president is doing everything necessary for its development. But our action is not political. The state is in charge of politics. The whole world knows our country's policy: Azerbaijan is a peaceful, tolerant country where national minorities, including Armenians, enjoy the same rights as other citizens. But if someone does not want to live with us, then the road is open.