Speech of Samir Isayev, project coordinator, ACSDA expert, a member of Environmental Law Center (ELC) of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), at “Sarsang SOS ” international conference in Tartar on September 7, 2013

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I would like to welcome A President of ACSDA, head of the Executive Body of Tartar region and experts and our guests participating here. Thank you for joining this event, presenting you first comments and first opinions and these comments and opinions will be very useful in our future activities.

I would like to touch upon some issues. The first, Mr. Suleymanov have spoken much about the political and international importance of this porject. We would like to evaluate some aspects in the implementation of this project. First issue is the providing of 6 regions in this area with water resources. Either our local experts will work on this issue or international experts will be involved.

Unconditionally, issues of impact on cultural, historical, environmental objects of our region will occur and be evaluated during the implementation of project. Downfall risks of Sarsang water reservoir, damage to be caused as a result of this downfall will be evaluated during the project implementation. As a result of all these, damage caused to Azerbaijan state, community and its social life will be evaluated. Azerbaijan state, as well as local authorities, central authorities and international community will be informed about this.

Some aspects have been touched upon here. I would like to give you some information about the damage caused and to be caused to the culture, history, geography and ecology of Aran (lowland) Karabakh, one of the oldest historical-cultural areas of Azerbaijan within this project. As a result of our initial investigation it became clear that there are many old historical monuments in this area. You know that Aran Karabakh is one of the oldest historical places and one of the oldest locations where Azeri Turks lived. Any danger caused as a result of any anthropogenic activity or downfall of water dam can destroy historical-cultural monuments of Azerbaijan. This is one side of the issue.

The second side is that today we have already faced a serious environmental problem in this region and observe this environmental problem. As a result of our observations in the region we could understand that if a person is not able to provide himself with water with his own manual labor and thinking, can you imagine, what do the animals and plants living in this nature face? There is a danger of extirpation of plant and animal types in this region. We visit household plots and yards of different people while talking to them, discuss some issues with them and they inform us that domestic animals knock their doors and ask for water. Animals attack houses for water. We noted some scenes and made video.

What do I want to say? If domestic animals and plants, which people can take care of them, face such tragedy, can you imagine the sate of wild animals living under natural conditions?

If our guests, I mean foreign journalists, as well as representatives of country media had no chance after travelling approximately half kilometer towards the Tartar city, they will cross on Tartar river. I would kindly ask you to take this way and you will see Tartar river waterless. There is no water flowing in Tartar river today.

Here we speak about only economic problems, daily problems of people, the damage caused them, why we don’t speak about the nature, which emerged before human living in this region. That nature has been destroyed and those animals have been killed. Those plants have been ruined. It is impossible to drill artesian for them. They used to drink water in natural way. Namely we see totally downfall of this region and its environment.

On the other hand, as seen in the speech of respectful head of executive power and other speeches that artesian wells are used in this region in order to maintain economy. This is a basis for big environmental problem. Why? There is ongoing process in the world called climate change. One of the serious impacts of climate change is namely a usage of energy, as well as not saving energy. Actually we can’t use water flowing from nature, instead of this we use energy in order to get water from artesian wells, as well as we pollute atmosphere with carbon gases and toxic wastes. It is a very important problem, one of the most exciting issues all over the world. This issue is especially intense in this region.

The second side of this issue – an expert took floor before me mentioned that there is ongoing very serious desertification process in the region. There is an international desert convention and a word “Transcaucasian” is mentioned in this convention. It means that desertification in Caucasus is internationally accepted and it was included to the description of convention.

Imagine that, there is ongoing artificial desertification process in Caucasus. Today our side does not implement this process, it is realized by Armenia, which has stopped water flowing from Tartar River and destroyed irrigation systems formed in the region. It is a serious problem.

Finally, all you and especially foreign experts know well that one of the important directions put forward in Johannesburg summit in 2002 is providing world population with drinking water. According to the prognosis of scientists, a greater part of the Earth population will suffer from water, especially drinking water in 2050. Can you imagine that today about 600 thousand population of Tartar, Agdam, Agdjabedi, Goranboy, Barda, Yevlakh, 6 regions and their thousands hectare territories today face a big water tragedy.

There is no need to wait for 2050 in order to face this water tragedy, as the world scientists mention we face it today and here. Namely the world community should see it. We should inform the world community that Azerbaijan faces a huge humanitarian tragedy. Humanitarian tragedy, as mentioned in the international summits, is reflected either in the examination of people with water, food and poverty or downfall of historical monuments. It is a big problem.

I would like to finalize briefly my report. As a result of our investigations in future, interesting facts will be discovered and you will also get a chance to see them. And I would like to mention one issue on behalf of the project team. You see in the data distributed to you that the project has a website – http://sarsang.org. Today you will be able to get information on today’s conference, a history of Sarsang, economic damage caused to the regions, economic impacts, an impact on political-cultural life, including risks expected as a result of tragedy to be caused to the region by Sarsang water reservoir.

People already apply to us and speak about their problems in this website, during the project implementation period, since the project started, since the first press conference was held and we came to the region. We received a lot of addresses. These addresses will be gathered in this website. You will be able to see all these, the applications written by you, the addresses made by population in this website. We will serve as a bridge for you in order to deliver them to the world community. I would like to thank Mr. Elkhan Suleymanov and honorary head of Executive Power. Thanks.