Armenia Wants UNESCO To Record Destruction Of Christian Heritage Sites Under Azerbaijan

Sept 2 2021
Written By

Srishti Goel


Armenia believes that despite Azerbaijan's opposition, UNESCO can send an assessment mission to Nagorno-Karabakh as soon as feasible, said Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan on Wednesday.

Since 2020, Armenia has requested an immediate UNESCO assessment expedition to Nagorno-Karabakh, believing that sites of Armenian Christian heritage are in danger in territories that passed under Muslim Azerbaijan's authority following the 44-day military struggle, according to the minister. He noted that Yerevan has documented numerous occasions in which Azerbaijani forces deliberately damaged churches and other Armenian monuments in Nagorno-Karabakh on Baku's orders.

Citing UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture Ernesto Ottone's December 20 statement that the only obstacle to an assessment mission to Nagorno-Karabakh was Azerbaijan's pending response, Mirzoyan stated that "the Azerbaijani government continues to politicise and obstruct the visit of UNESCO experts" because "it wants to conceal its cultural crimes."

Last September, the decades-long Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan erupted once again, resulting in thousands of military and civilian losses on both sides. On November 9, Russia brokered a cease-fire agreement and dispatched mediators to the region to supervise the truce.

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On September 27, 2020, renewed confrontations between Azerbaijan and Armenia started, with severe fighting waging in the disputed area of Nagorno-Karabakh. On November 9, 2020, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan signed a joint declaration calling for an immediate cease-fire in Nagorno-Karabakh. The Azerbaijani and Armenian sides agreed to hold their positions, and Russian forces were sent to monitor the truce along the engagement line in Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as along the Lachinsky corridor that connects Armenia to the enclave. Aside from that, Baku gained control of a number of districts.

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The situation along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border has been tense since May 12, when Armenia's Defense Ministry stated that the Azerbaijani Armed Forces sought to conduct "certain operations" in a border area in Syunik Province in order to "alter the border." Since then, both sides have reported border incidents on a regular basis.


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