The conference on “Protecting Armenian Cultural and Religious Heritage of Nagorno-Karabakh” was held on January 24 at the initiative of MEP Miriam Lexmann and the EPP Group.
Professor of international law Pierre D’Argent, Very Rev. Fr. Garegin Hambardzumyan, author of the book “The Armenian Cultural Heritage of Artsakh: Mechanisms for Protection in the International System for Preservation of Heritage” Armine Tigranyan, Ambassador of Armenia to Belgium/Head of Mission to the EU Tigran Balayan, Secretary General of Europa Nostra Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailovic were among the speakers.
Members of the European Parliament, members of the Europa Nostra organization, spiritual leaders, journalists and representatives of non-governmental organizations attended the conference.
In his speech, Ambassador Balayan spoke in detail about the ethnic cleansing carried out by Azerbaijan, the current situation of the forcibly displaced Armenians from Nagorno- Karabakh, as well as the vital importance of preserving religious and cultural heritage.
He underlined that as long as Azerbaijan does not bear severe consequences for its destructive and catastrophic actions, the Aliyev regime will continue to violate the international law, international legal order and binding rulings of the International Court of Justice.
Ambassador Balayan presented the pictures of the church in his native village, which, according to satellite images, had been destroyed by the Azerbaijani armed forces. He added that they would continue this policy of deliberate destruction, since they were never held accountable.
Ambassador Balayan also drew the attention of the participants to the resolution “On the destruction of the cultural heritage of Nagorno-Karabakh” adopted by the European Parliament, stressing the need to create mechanisms for its implementation.
Miriam Lexmann also stressed the disastrous consequences of impunity. She underlined that the double standards and the policy of sacrificing European values for political expedience are unacceptable.
Pierre D’Argent presented the legal aspects of the issue and unveiled the details of the discussions in the International Court of Justice and the counterclaims by the Azerbaijani side. He mentioned that Azerbaijani policy is one of mirroring the claims of Armenia thus trying to divert the attention of the international community.
Fr. Garegin Hambardzumyan highlighted the importance of preservation of the religious heritage and displayed a number of cultural monuments that have either been destroyed, alienated, or are on the verge of destruction.
Armine Tigranyan gave a detailed presentation on endangered monuments and underlined the importance of preserving the intangible heritage of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh, including traditions and community life.
The author’s books were distributed among the participants of the conference.
The Secretary General of Europa Nostra firmly condemned the ethnic cleansing committed by Azerbaijan against the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh and underlined that the organization she leads has repeatedly raised alarms about the ongoing violations, thus stressing the importance of the cultural heritage of Nagorno-Karabakh for the European civilization. She also emphasized that “Armenian heritage is the European heritage”.
In his closing remarks the Member of the European Parliament François-Xavier Bellamy underscored the need to protect the right of return of Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians to their ancestral homeland.