The South Caucasus is a unique region of our planet, distinguished by its natural and climatic diversity. To illustrate, only the Republic of Azerbaijan hosts 9 out of 11 existing climatic zones. It is almost impossible to maintain the environmental security of this region using only local capabilities and resources. This exceptional place on Earth can only be preserved for future generations if the international community takes active part in this process.
Using this opportunity, I would like to present several existing problems in this sphere to the distinguished colleagues.
Metsamor nuclear power plant (NPP) – potential environmental disaster on regional and global levels.
Metsamor (Armenian) NPP is long since a subject of serious political debates both within the South Caucasus and outside the region. The European Union have once more called on Armenia to close the plant. In Yerevan, the view is that the NPP is absolutely safe and there are plans to extend its period of exploitation.
Metsamor NPP – is the only nuclear power plant in the South Caucasus. It is already 44 years old, while the optimal period of use of the reactor core is only 30 years.
This NPP was built in the Republic of Armenia 28 km. outside the capital Yerevan and only 16 km. form the Turkish city of Igdir. 80% of the localities of the Republic of Armenia and several dozens of localities of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran and Turkey are located withing the 50 km. range of this NPP. The construction of the nuclear plant began in 1969. First power-generating unit has started energy production in December 1976, while the second – in January 1980. Presently only the second power-generating unit is functioning.
NPPs are a priori a source of high risks and danger to the environment. Completely random, small or trivial factors can provoke a nuclear catastrophe. The whole world bore witness to the level of potential catastrophe through the experience of the 1986 Chernobyl NPP disaster. In Chernobyl, the meltdown took place because of the power outage of the reactor core. While in 2011 Fukushima NPP broke down due to the tsunami. Before that event, however, Fukushima was viewed as practically indestructible.
During its exploitation, Metsamor NPP has seen quite a lot of "emergency situations". In 1982, a disastrous fire broke out on the plant. The equipment of the facility was badly damaged. The liquidation of the fire took more than 7 hours. More than 110 members of fire-safety team and firefighters took part in extinguishing the fire. In 1988, a powerful earthquake (level 10) shook the northern parts of Armenian SSR. When that happened almost all local staff abandoned the Metsamor NPP. The absence of first response and repair teams led to the danger of the meltdown of the reactor core. In order to prevent a catastrophe, the staff from other NPPs from all over the Soviet Union have been relocated to the Metsamor. The ripples of the earthquake that reached the plant have been evaluated by the specialists to be as high as level 6,25 magnitude according to Richter scale. Back then, the USSR's decision to suspend the exploitation of the NPP was the right one.
However, in the beginning of April of 1993 the government of the Republic of Armenia decided to start repairs of the second power-generating unit of the Metsamor NPP to restart its exploitation.
The international environmental experts are united in their view, that the seismic activity in the region makes the exploitation of the Metsamor NPP a very dangerous enterprise.
During 1992-1997, the seismic activity dangers of a large territory located in Iran, Russia, Turkey, Turkmenistan and in South Caucasian states was studied within the programme called "Global Seismic Hazard Assessment Program" (GSHAP). After mapping the active tectonic plates' boundaries, the experts came to the conclusion that on the territory of the Republic of Armenia near its capital Yerevan and the Metsamor NPP lies a very large and active zone of such boundaries. The location of the NPP in such a zone is problematic per se. Moreover, if the NPP is located in the highlands, the danger is that should there be a risk of meltdown it would be very problematic to deliver additional water supply for an emergency cooldown of the reactor core.
In 2014, Turkey have officially petitioned International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to shut down the NPP due to the expiration of the date of its safe exploitation. The question of the extension of service time of Metsamor NPP is provoking discontent of the neighboring states for the last 15 years.
As far back as September of 1999, the Armenian government and the European Union (EU) have signed an agreement to shut down and permanently close the Metsamor NPP in 2004. The Republic of Armenia confirmed its commitment to closing the NPP in 2004 when it joined the Council of Europe on 25 January 2001. Recently, the EU and the Republic of Armenia signed an agreement which contains a separate part dedicated to the NPP. According to the agreement, Armenia has taken an obligation to plan a scheduled shutdown of the plant.
However, the government of the Republic of Armenia is not following on its obligations and puts in danger not only regional but also global security.
The fuel for the Armenian NPP is transported to the country via air or land through the territory of neighboring Georgia. However, one of the major problems of any nuclear facility is its waste. During its 44 years of life Metsamor NPP has accumulated a large stockpile of nuclear waste. From a very scarce information that comes from the experts that visited this NPP, it is known that the "temporary storage space is totally full". The leaks have been discovered in several containers. While nuclear waste is being held in the temporary storage spaces, "they are not certified and do not meet the criteria acceptable for storage of such waste".
The actual location of the Metsamor NPP's nuclear waste storages is also unknown due to the classification of this information as secret because of the terrorism threats. However, the intelligence information that found its way into the media suggests that the solid waste from NPP was stored in Nagorno-Karabakh on the occupied territory of Azerbaijan.
Iranian officials have several times voiced their outrage about the dumping of the liquid waste of Metsamor NPP into the Aras river (flows into Kura river and then into the Caspian Sea). "The wastes present a threat to the river and to the people that live on the adjacent territories", stated the representative of the parliamentary committee on environment of Iran Kemaladdin Pirmuazzin. He also stressed that this question creates challenges for the population and environment of Azerbaijan as well.
The dangers of the creation of "dirty" bombs. The Armenians claim that all the work with nuclear materials and radioactive waste in the Republic of Armenia is "under a total control" of IAEA. However, in April 2019, six persons were arrested in Tbilisi while trying to sell a radioactive material uranium-238. During the same month, the security services of Georgia have apprehended five more criminals that were trying to sell radioactive uranium. The expertise of the materials confiscated in Georgia showed that all of them originated in the Republic of Armenia. The efflux and illegal use of radioactive materials and waste becomes a regular matter. However, no one can provide a credible scale of the problem as NPPs are traditionally obscured from public scrutiny.
If such "total" control actually exists, as stated by the representatives of Metsamor NPP, then how come the radioactive materials illicitly find their way from Armenia into the neighboring Georgia? As Georgia has no nuclear objects on its territory, it is completely unprepared for combating nuclear threats. Accordingly, it lacks experience in handling of the radioactive materials.
The damage to the environment as a result of territorial conflicts in South Caucasus.
In 1988-1994, as a result of the aggression of the Republic of Armenia, 1,7 million hectares of the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan came under military occupation. In South Caucasus this was the conflict with the heaviest toll. 42997 hectares of natural reserves under special environmental protection ended up under the Armenian occupation. Formerly occupied territories hosted 247352 hectares of forests, including 13197,5 hectares of special woods, 152 nature monuments and 5 geological objects.
Occupied territories of Azerbaijan in and around Karabakh that were completely destroyed by Armenia have been liberated in 2020. It will take decades to mitigate the negative results of the aggression, damage to the environment, destruction of cities, villages, historical and religious monuments, cemeteries, social and cultural spheres, transport routes, etc. For example, in Djebrayil and Zengilan regions more than two-thousand-year-old sycamores were cut down, while forests have been burned down in Shusha area using white phosphorus. 
54328 hectares of forests have been destroyed during the occupation. This data is based on the preliminary analysis of the images received from the Azercosmos satellite.  Water resources and bowels of the earth have been savagely exploited. During the retreat from the territories, the occupants have burned down whole forests and localities.
It is planned to include international experts into the evaluation of the total damage done to the environment of the formerly occupied territories of Azerbaijan. 
Possible measures to preserve the environment of South Caucasus and restoration of the environment on the formerly occupied territories.
Azerbaijan is facing a challenge of restoration of the 20% of its territory that was previously under occupation of Armenian armed forces including its environment. The process should take place through the implementation of specific ecological measures on the territory of the whole South Caucasus.
- "There is big potential in renewable energy. And I know that there is interest from British companies to work on these issues. There is a very big potential of solar, wind, hydro. So, we are already planning our future in the liberated territories, and I already declared these territories as a green zone territory. So, we will use the power of wind, sun, and water in order to supply the needs of the people. We already became an exporter of electric energy. Therefore, potential for that is really very high. And also, many other areas of cooperation between our countries have great importance", - said the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, receiving the UK Minister for European Neighborhood and Americas Wendy Morton .
- The head office of the LG Electronics in Spain has highly praised the programme, initiated by the vice-president of Azerbaijan, president of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Mehriban Aliyeva, which will oversee planting of 650 thousand trees per day dedicated to the "Nasimi Year" (2019). Azerbaijan have thus won an award from the head office of the LG Electronics. Organizers of the award have highly praised the input of Azerbaijan into the reduction of carbon monoxide and forestation of our planet.
- Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of Azerbaijan, in accordance with the recommendations of experts, plants oriental planes in the liberated territories of Fizuli, Agdam, Gubadli and Zangilan. Mulberry seedlings have already been planted in Gubadli and Zangilan. This will greatly benefit the development of sericulture.
Azerbaijan will still have to evaluate the total damage inflicted by Armenia to its state and the property of its citizens, because everything is almost completely destroyed on the occupied territories.  International experts have already been invited to evaluate the damage to the environment of both Azerbaijan and South Caucasus in general, infrastructure, individuals that have lost their homes and to the historical heritage of Azerbaijan. After that, legal suits and court proceedings against the Armenian state will follow.