Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia participated in 37th session of UNESCO General Conference which is dedicated to summarizing the work of the Organization during the last two years and discussing the main directions of the upcoming activities.

In his statement Minister Nalbandian particularly mentioned that Armenia attaches great importance to the goal of UNESCO in encouraging intercultural dialogue, understanding and tolerance. Minister Nalbandian stated: “Since last May Armenia has assumed the Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe making fight against xenophobia, hate-speech and intolerance its key priorities.

In an era when the protection and promotion of human rights are considered to be the underpinning concept for the civilized world, intolerance towards the values of civilization belonging to others, damaging or destroying cultural or religious heritage intentionally, consistently, repeatedly, must be condemned with the same resolve and determination as violence against people.”

As the Minister noted the destruction by Azerbaijanis in Nakhijevan of thousands of delicately carved cross stones by the Armenian masters, dating from the 9th to the 16th centuries, is a vivid manifestation of such crime. “Several thousands of these giant medieval sculptures were bulldozed under the Azerbaijani government’s watchful eyes and this area was turned into a military ground in a government sanctioned operation. The 16th International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) General Assembly resolution regretfully stated with regard to this vandalism: “this heritage that once enjoyed its worthy place among the treasures of the world’s heritage can no longer be transmitted today to future generations.

Our numerous calls for sending international fact-finding missions to Nakhijevan, as well as attempts by a number of international organizations and countries have been either ignored or rejected by the Azerbaijani side.”- Minister Nalbandian stressed. “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education state that “Education shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups”. Taking into consideration UNESCO’s unique role in the sphere of education, we call upon the Organization to create within its educational programs some sort of an overview mechanism that will examine and evaluate the textbooks of the member-states, especially history and social sciences textbooks, with a special emphasis on exclusion of racism or xenophobia.

The Armenian heritage, culture and history, after lasting continuously for more than thirty centuries are nowadays being distorted and altered in Azerbaijan. In this country the rewriting of its history is continued by means of misappropriation or annihilation of the traces of other cultures on their territory, or even more, by privatizing the cultural heritage of the neighboring nations. A country that appeared on the political map of the world less than a hundred years ago has territorial and cultural claims towards a country and a people the several millenniums’ history of which is recorded from the ancient times,”- the Foreign Minister stated.

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