YEREVAN — UNESCO reaffirmed its support for the request of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh to send a fact-finding mission to Nagorno-Karabakh amid reports of systematic desecration or destruction of Armenian monuments in Karabakh by Azerbaijan.
UNESCO’s response came to a query by Armenpress news agency amid reports that Azerbaijan is preparing to erase traces of Armenian religious, historical and cultural monuments in the areas that came under its control after the 2020 autumn war in the conflict zone.
Armenian authorities say both during the hostilities and after the establishment of the ceasefire, there have been numerous documented cases of deliberate destruction of and vandalism against Armenian churches, other cultural and religious monuments by the Azerbaijani armed forces.
On February 3, Azerbaijan’s Culture Ministry said a commission was created that would take steps to “remove the fictitious traces written by Armenians on Albanian religious temples” in the recaptured areas.
In response to Armenpress query UNESCO said it continues working to send a UNESCO Independent Technical Mission within the framework of the 1954 Convention.
‘We hope that it will be possible soon, but for the moment the necessary conditions are not in place. So discussions are still ongoing”, Thomas Mallard, Press Officer at UNESCO, said.
Asked how UNESCO was assessing Azerbaijan’s decision to set up the commission, considering the fact that on 7th of December, 2021, the International Court of Justice has ordered Azerbaijan to “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 artifacts”, as a provisional measure in the context of Application of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Armenia v. Azerbaijan), Thomas Mallard said “heritage and history shouldn’t be the subject of any political instrumentalization”.
“We urge all our Member States, all over the world, to respect this principle”, he said.