509/20, Commentary by Leyla Abdullayeva, Head of the Press Service Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan
In his speech at the meeting with the Director General of ICESCO on January 13, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan once again exposed the purposeful policy of Armenia aimed at destroying the historical, material and cultural heritage of Azerbaijan, which had been carried out for decades in now liberated territories of our country.
The acts of destruction, looting and changing the origin of historical, cultural and religious monuments in the territories that have been under Armenian occupation for almost 30 years, with the aim of preventing the return of Azerbaijanis to their homes by demolishing everything that belongs to the Azerbaijani people in these territories, is equated to the war crimes. Of course, Armenia is responsible for these crimes and must answer before international courts.
Coming to the ancient Armenian monuments, as Armenians do not belong to the Caucasian ethnos and were massively resettled to the Caucasus in the 19th century such monuments may exist somewhere else. I would not comment on this issue, as it has nothing to do with our region.
Regarding the unfounded accusations of the Armenian Foreign Ministry that Azerbaijan does not allow international organizations, especially UNESCO, to visit the territories, we remind the Armenian Foreign Ministry that it was Armenia that did not allow international missions to visit the occupied territories of Azerbaijan over decades. This fact is even clearly reflected in the UNESCO Activities Report published in 2005. Thus, the report stated that the government of Azerbaijan expressed concern about the protection of cultural heritage in Nagorno-Karabakh and other occupied territories and requested the dispatch of a fact-finding mission to these territories, however, this mission was prevented due to the occupation of these territories by the Armenian military forces.
The Azerbaijani side brought to the attention of UNESCO its response in connection with the organization of the mission. In general, no third party can interfere in the dialogue process between Azerbaijan and UNESCO.
We are confident that the UNESCO / ICESCO mission will be a good opportunity to bring to the attention of the international community, based on objective basis and with real facts, the acts of vandalism committed by Armenia during the 30 years of occupation.
Azerbaijan is a multicultural country, and all Muslim and Christian-Albanian monuments in Karabakh belong to the historical, cultural and religious heritage of the Azerbaijani people. All monuments in Azerbaijan are protected at the state level. The protection of the rich heritage of our country will continue to be ensured at a high level, including the restoration, repair and reconstruction of monuments in the liberated territories.