Armenia destroys cultural heritage in occupied lands to wipe out Azerbaijanis’ historical presence there

By: Sara Rajabova

Anar Karimov, Azerbaijan’s Permanent Delegate to UNESCO has brought to the attention of the international community Armenia`s occupation of Azerbaijani lands, as he addressed the General Policy Debates of the 38th session of the UNESCO General Conference in Paris.

“Peace, security and stability in our region continue to be endangered and UNESCO’s principles and values remain violated by an ongoing military occupation of Azerbaijani territories by the armed forces of Armenia,” Karimov said, AzerTac state news agency reported.

He noted that, in fact, deliberate acts of destruction of the cultural heritage in different parts of the world are not something new for the Azerbaijani people.

“Such similar acts took place many years ago as a result of a cultural cleansing policy by Armenia in the occupied territories. Not a single historical monument, mosque or cemetery testifying to the centuries’ old historical presence of the Azerbaijani population escaped destruction or desecration in these territories, and in Armenia itself. And what is interesting is that while being involved in these crimes, and being a unique mono-ethnic and mono religious country in a very diverse region, Armenia is trying to teach others,” Karimov said.

The diplomat also used his right of reply after the Armenian foreign minister made false accusations in the general policy debate during UNESCO’s session.

“The need for this reply is grounded on the statement which was full of false accusations, animosity and hatred against my country,” Kariomov said.

He stressed that the occupation by Armenia of almost 20 percent of internationally recognized and historic territories of Azerbaijan has continued for many years, regardless of four UN Security Council resolutions, which demand immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian troops from Azerbaijani territories.

More than one million Azerbaijanis became refugees and were internally displaced as a result of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict that occurred in 1988 due to Armenia’s illegal territorial claims against Azerbaijan.

“This speech by the Armenian foreign minister is yet another attempt to mislead the international community about the facts of the cultural cleansing carried out, not only within the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan and the seven surrounding regions, but also within the territory of Armenia itself,” Karimov said.

After invading Azerbaijan’s territories, Armenia has been pursuing a campaign of destroying the cultural and historical monuments of the Azerbaijani people. The Armenians are also fabricating facts about the monuments of ancient Caucasian Albania.

A variety of ancient Albanian scripts, wall designs and crosses have been replaced by Armenian symbols. Further, a number of mosques are being used as storehouses. Buildings, as well as unique museums located in occupied Azerbaijani lands, have been either destroyed or used as the grounds for new museums, with Armenians claiming that they belong to them.

Karimov said the destruction of ancient mosque and the Aga-dede cemetery in Masis region of Armenia is one of the many examples of this policy, stressing that such acts are direct violations of norms and principles of international law, including the aims and principles of UNESCO.

“So, as a nation suffering from the consequences of the occupation, the protection of our cultural heritage is always a significant and sensitive issue for Azerbaijan,” he said.

He also emphasized that Armenia is still a mono-ethnic and mono-religious state, while Azerbaijan continues to share its experience in religious and cultural tolerance with the international community through implementation of concrete and efficient policies.

“We would like to share our confidence that UNESCO, as a genuine house of peace and tolerance, is not a place for emotional hatred and groundless accusations, and the valuable floor before us cannot be used for misleading the international community, but to call for just and fair solutions for a better and prosperous future,” Karimov added.

The destruction and damage of historical and cultural monuments by the Armenian invaders in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan contradict the 1954 Hague convention on the preservation of cultural values during armed conflicts, the 1992 European convention on preservation of archeological heritages, and the 1972 UNESCO convention on preservation of world cultural and natural heritages.

The preservation of historical and cultural monuments in the Armenian-occupied territory of Azerbaijan, as memories of the nation’s centuries-old history, is a matter of international importance, since the Azerbaijani people’s cultural heritage is an integral part of the world culture.


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