The Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, received the representatives of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Trend reports referring to the organization’s web site.
Azoulay reminded the statements made by the UN Secretary-General, who had expressed his relief and welcomed the agreement on a total ceasefire and cessation of hostilities in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone, announced in a joint statement on 10 November, 2020 by Azerbaijan’s president, prime minister of Armenia, and president of Russia.
She also reaffirmed the universal dimension of cultural heritage, as a witness to history and as inseparable from the identity of peoples, which the international community has a duty to protect and preserve for future generations, beyond the conflicts of the moment.
The director-general also reminded the provisions of the 1954 Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its two Protocols, to which both Armenia and Azerbaijan are parties, and which are based on the States Parties’ conviction that “damage to cultural property belonging to any people whatsoever means damage to the cultural heritage of all mankind”.
“The unlawful destruction of cultural heritage, looting and smuggling of cultural property in the event of armed conflict, including by terrorist groups, and attempts to deny historical roots and cultural diversity in this context, can fuel and exacerbate conflicts and impede post-conflict national reconciliation, thus undermining the security, stability, governance and social, economic and cultural development of affected States,” Azouley stressed, citing the UN Security Council resolution 2347 (2017).
The official reiterated her appeal of 9 October for the protection of heritage in this region and the absolute necessity of preventing any further damage.
During these meetings, she formally proposed the technical support of UNESCO, representatives of which have been unable to visit these zones to date despite past attempts, and who could, with the agreement of all concerned parties, carry out a preliminary field mission, in order to draw up an inventory of the most significant cultural assets, as a prerequisite for effective protection of the region’s heritage.
Given the above, UNESCO will work with all interested partners to create the conditions for such a mission. . High-level consultations have begun with the States co-chairing the Minsk Group over the matter, concluded the organization.
Following over a month of military action to liberate its territories from Armenian occupation, Azerbaijan has pushed Armenia to sign the surrender document. A joint statement on the matter was made by Azerbaijani president, Armenia’s PM and the president of Russia.
A complete ceasefire and a cessation of all hostilities in the zone of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict were introduced at 00:00 hours (Moscow time) on 10 November 2020.
Armenian Armed Forces launched a large-scale military attack on positions of Azerbaijani army on the front line, using large-caliber weapons, mortars and artillery on Sept. 27. Azerbaijan responded with a counter-offensive along the entire front.
Back in July 2020, Armenian Armed Forces violated the ceasefire in the direction of Azerbaijan’s Tovuz district. As a result of Azerbaijan’s retaliation, the opposing forces were silenced. The fighting continued the following days as well. Azerbaijan lost a number of military personnel members, who died fighting off the attacks of the Armenian Armed Forces.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, Armenian Armed Forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts. The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations.