Azerbaijan to Google: Nakhchivan is (still) ours

Azerbaijan is upset again with Google. Several villages in the Autonomous Republic of Nakhchivan, an internationally recognized exclave of Azerbaijan, are labeled in Google Earth as belonging to Armenia. The Azeri Press Agency (APA) writes:

Google shows Nakhchevan’s villages and regions as Armenian area

[ 13 Jul 2010 12:30 ]

Baku. Aynur Valiyeva — APA-ECONOMICS. Azerbaijan’s area was perverted in Google Earth’s maps again.

According to APA-ECONOMICS, Nakhchevan’s Ordubad, Sadarak regions and Nehrem village of Babek region were shown as Armenian areas.

According to head of press service of Ministry of Communication and Information Technologies Mushvig Amirov, Azerbaijan has already applied to Google’s management about it. “If Google does take measure about our application, the ministry intends to apply to international regulation bodies in accordance with this problem.”

Here’s the original in Azeri, which is longer, and which alludes (according to Google Translate) to this sort of thing having happened before, and that Google corrected the mistake last time after an appeal by the government, only to reintroduce these errors recently.

Indeed, we’ve heard all this before. Back in January 2010 Ogle Earth published the complaint by Azerbajian’s government to Google, and confirmed there was a labeling error for Nakhchivan:


That popup is no longer shown in Google Earth, because the entire region is no longer labeled. (This is likely as result of the reorganization of the default layers a few months back). Instead, we have popups for the villages of Nakhchivan. The capital (also called Nakhchivan) is labeled correctly:


But the other villages are not:


It’s a clear and straightforward error, which Google should correct (again), especially considering the strained relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and the fact that Armenia currently occupies other parts of Azerbaijan.

On a side note: I’m not sure the threat to take this case up with “international regulation bodies” has much promise, considering that there is no such thing when it comes to names and borders. The UN will recognize countries and the International Court of Justice will adjudicate border disputes between countries if asked, but there is no international law that obligates a private corporation like Google to be accurate or fair in its depiction of the world on its maps. Of course, it is in Google’s best interests to be accurate and fair, but that’s another matter completely.

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