European Lawmakers Call for Mechanisms to Prevent ‘Cultural Genocide’ in Artsakh

A conference tackling the protection of cultural heritage in Artsakh takes place at the European Parliament on Jan. 25

Members of the European Parliament on Thursday called for the dispatch of an international peacekeeping mission to Artsakh, as well as the creation of succinct mechanisms to prevent the “cultural genocide” being perpetrated by Azerbaijan.

The European lawmakers made the suggestions during a conference on Protecting Armenian Cultural and Religious Heritage in Nagorno-Karabakh that took place at the European Parliament on Thursday.

“The European Parliament has on numerous occasions raised the issue of the fake Azeri narratives and deliberate destruction of Armenian cultural heritage. But nevertheless, the EU is playing a short-term economic game and has an agreement with Azerbaijan. This is unacceptable, and it is our duty to do everything to save the Armenian heritage,” said European Parliament member Miriam Lexmann, who organized the conference.

Armenia’s representative to the EU Tigran Balayan said that Azerbaijan is not only deliberately destroying and distorting everything that is Armenian, but it is also violating all legal obligations. He blamed the arbitrary enforcement of legal decisions and inconsistent posture of actors for what’s happening.

“We must create a monitoring mechanism, and the European Parliament has sufficient means to create such a group. Our duty is to save what’s still left in Nagorno-Karabakh,” Balayan said.

Pierre d’Argent, professor at the University of Louvain and a guest professor at the University of Leiden, warned the European lawmakers that Azerbaijan is trying to “control history.”

“Discrimination and falsification of history are state policies in that country,” he said, noting that Azeri authorities are “questioning what’s Armenians, and for them, Nagorno-Karabakh doesn’t exist,” d’Argent said.

More than 4,000 Armenian monuments, monasteries and cultural buildings are under Azeri control today and face the risk of destruction.

Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, the Secretary-General of Europa Nostra, pan-European Federation for Cultural Heritage called on the EU to adopt stronger rhetoric and introduce clear mechanisms to prevent the cultural tragedy.

Conference of European Churches Secretary Peter Pavlovic also called for a monitoring mechanism in Nagorno-Karabakh.

European Parliament member Fabio Castaldo said that European satellites should be used to monitor and document what’s happening in Nagorno-Karabakh and use the images as evidence in international organizations. He said that only a strong package of sanctions against Azerbaijan could be the solution to the issue.