Amb. Margaryan raises the destruction of Armenian cultural heritage by Azerbaijan at UN Security Council

Armed conflicts and military actions can have devastating impact on objects of cultural heritage, which are of irreplaceable value to the entire mankind as unique expressions of history, identity and cultural memory, Armenia’s Permanent Representative to the UN Mher Margaryan said the UN Security Council Arria-Formula Meeting “Protection of Cultural Heritage in Armed Conflict.”

As such, their integrity and preservation must be upheld at all times., he stressed.

“In our region, we have first-hand experience going through the devastating loss of cultural property. The Armenian heritage was under heavy attack during the war in Nagorno-Karabakh launched by Azerbaijan in 2020. The Holy Savior Ghazanchetsots Cathedral of Shushi, for example, was deliberately shelled, twice within a few hours, resulting in the partial destruction of the Church,” the Ambassador noted.  

“Today, the millennia-old Christian Armenian sites in Nagorno-Karabakh are on the verge of total extermination, targeted to promote the distorted narrative that the Armenian people are alien in the region. Armenia’s deep concern in relation to the fate of the cultural property in Nagorno-Karabakh is also based on the previous history of total and intentional eradication of the Armenian heritage by Azerbaijan. In Nakhijevan, for example, thousands of monuments, including 89 medieval churches and more than 5,000 cross-stones were annihilated, in an effort to remove traces of the Armenian civilizational presence,” he added.

He emphasized that Azerbaijan is yet to commit, in good faith, to the implementation of the Order on Provisional Measures issued by the International Court of Justice at the request of Armenia in December 2021, according to which Azerbaijan shall “take all necessary measures to prevent and punish acts of vandalism and desecration affecting Armenian cultural heritage, including but not limited to churches and other places of worship, monuments, landmarks, cemeteries and artefacts”.

“Armenia has consistently requested that a UNESCO fact-finding mission be deployed to Nagorno-Karabakh and the adjacent areas in order to help preserve the vast and unique cultural heritage of the region, yet, Azerbaijan continues to obstruct efforts of the international organizations for independent and impartial assessment of the facts on the ground, having opted, instead, for the policy of systematic erasure of the Armenian traces, putting into practice a pseudoscientific theory that denies the historical sites of their Armenian origin. Only today, the chairman of what is called the State Committee for Work with religious Organizations of Azerbaijan went on record saying that the Medieval Armenian Dadivank monastery “belongs to Caucasian Albania” and “sooner or later it will be controlled by the Albanian-Udi religious community”,” Mher Margayn said.

“Destruction of the Armenian cultural heritage continues to be extensively monitored and reported, including through the use of modern technologies. I would like to recall, in this regard, that on 28 April, last Friday, Armenia hosted a panel discussion at the UN, which looked into the role of new technologies in preventing genocidal acts, such as cultural heritage destruction. The event featured a research project at the Cornell University entitled “Caucasus Heritage Watch”, which relies on digital satellite technologies to monitor and document cultural heritage in the region, revealing large-scale damage and destruction in the territories under Azerbaijan’s control,” he added.

The Permanent Representative encouraged UNESCO to also utilize digital technologies to identify, monitor and act upon the facts of destruction of cultural heritage in any part of the world, and in our region in particular.

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