Today.Az » Arts & Entertainment » Azerbaijan seeks UNESCO assistance in asessing cultural heritage in liberated lands
06 April 2022 [10:00] - Today.Az

By Azernews

By Laman Ismayilova

Numerous cultural and historical monuments in Azerbaijan have been razed to the ground as a result of the Armenian occupation which lasted almost three decades.

After its historical victory in 2020, Azerbaijan intends to revive and restore all cultural and religious monuments in the liberated lands.

At the 214th session of the UNESCO Executive Board in Paris, Azerbaijan voiced its hope for UNESCO's help in this regard.

Elman Abdullayev, Azerbaijan's permanent representative to UNESCO, spoke at the conference about the serious effects of Armenia's military aggression against Azerbaijan.

Erasure of Azerbaijani heritage

Abdullayev stressed that Armenia conducted a systematic erasure of Azerbaijani heritage.

"Azerbaijan has been subjected to armed aggression by Armenia for almost 30 years. Over the past years, serious war crimes have been committed, as well as crimes against humanity, the norms of international law on the protection of cultural heritage during an armed conflict have been grossly violated," Abdullayev noted.

"Once quite prosperous Azerbaijani territories have been destroyed. During the retreat, the Armenian armed forces illegally removed bells, crosses, famous frescoes and ancient manuscripts of the 13th century Khudavang Monastery Complex as well as valuable artifacts from the Azykh caves and the Shahbulag fortress," he added.

Over 160 valuable carpets were illegally taken out of the Shusha Carpet Museum, and 71 of them are exhibited in the museum in Yerevan. All these facts are reflected in the reports submitted to the Second Protocol Committee.

Mine explosions

Azerbaijan's envoy to UNESCO further stated that mines and unexploded ordnance in Azerbaijan's territories liberated from Armenian occupation pose a serious threat to the cultural heritage of these lands, impede restoration work and delay the return of civilians. The explosions have killed and wounded a number of civilians and journalists.

The envoy of Azerbaijan to UNESCO further stated that mines and explosive ordnance in Azerbaijan's lands liberated from Armenian occupation pose a serious threat to the cultural heritage of these lands, obstruct repair operations, and delay Azerbaijani civilians' return. A number of citizens and journalists have been killed or injured as a result of the blasts.

Abdullayev Director-General Audrey Azoulay for her statement condemning the killing of Azerbaijani journalists and recalled that media representatives Siraj Abishov and Maharram Ibrahimov were killed in a landmine explosion on June 4, 2021, in Kalbajar region.

Post-conflict reconstruction

Azerbaijan entered the post-war rehabilitation, restoration, and reintegration phase following the end of the armed conflict.

The country is determined to properly preserve and restore all cultural and religious monuments in the liberated territories, regardless of their origin.

The envoy stated that Azerbaijan is continuing to collaborate with the international community, including appropriate specialized institutions and UN agencies, on large-scale rehabilitation projects in the liberated territories.

Partnership with UNESCO

Abdullayev expressed his hope that UNESCO will contribute to these efforts and that it will follow in the footsteps of other key UN organizations and institutions.

"The Azerbaijani government is interested in conducting an independent and impartial UNESCO technical mission to assess the state of cultural heritage in the country. Our country is ready to continue working in this direction without any delay and hopes that there will be no further obstacles due to any additional conditions. In this context, it is necessary to accelerate the response of the organization to the proposals submitted by Azerbaijan on August 19, 2021. Such a mission of UNESCO should be carried out in full compliance with the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan," he said.

Abdullayev underlined that Azerbaijan is ready to make an effective contribution to the work of the session.

"We highly appreciate the strengthening of the role of UNESCO in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by supporting and assisting countries through the Global Education Coalition, which we are proud to join,” Abdullayev said.

He stressed Azerbaijan's long-term partnership with African countries. 

Azerbaijan supports UNESCO's global African priority and calls for paying special attention to the needs of small developing island states, the diplomat said.

"Azerbaijan actively supports UNESCO's initiatives in the sphere of intercultural dialogue, in particular the UNESCO electronic platform for intercultural dialogue, which was launched in 2018 and developed with the financial support of the Azerbaijani government. Azerbaijan supports the active role of youth in the decision-making process and we welcome the 12th UNESCO Youth Forum dedicated to the development of a post-COVID-19 action plan," Abdullayev said.

"Considering the growing importance of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in international issues, Azerbaijan, being a member of the UNESCO Executive Board, will strive to strengthen the existing mechanism for coordinating the countries participating in the NAM within this board," he concluded.

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