“Shusha, the heart of Karabakh, is a sacred and dear place for Azerbaijan and the entire Turkic world,” said president of the International Turkic Culture and Heritage Foundation Gunay Afandiyeva during the panel “Cultural heritage as a foundation for sustainable peace” at the international conference “Advancing post-conflict humanitarian agenda: sustainable development through revitalization of cultural environment” in Shusha.
Noting the historical significance of the conference held in the framework of the “Year of Shusha” announced by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, Gunay Afandiyeva touched upon interesting issues: “Shusha is the historical memory of the people of Azerbaijan, the Motherland of many great personalities of culture, art and literature, the place of ancient, invaluable architecture and monuments. It is no coincidence that the International Turkic Culture and Heritage Foundation has also dedicated the first event of 2022 to the opening of the “Year of Shusha””.
In her speech, the president of the Foundation stressed that Shusha will host a number of important events, as it did in previous years: “The announcement of Shusha as the Cultural Capital of the Turkic World in 2023 is an indicator of the city’s historical, cultural and social significance for the entire Turkic world. The Pearl of Karabakh will continue hosting grand events, concerts and exhibitions both this year and next. I am confident that with the example of Shusha, all this will contribute to the preservation of the legacy of liberated Karabakh as a whole and the transmission of historical truths at the international level”.
Next, Gunay Afandiyeva also expressed her opinion on the damage caused to the cultural heritage of Karabakh: “Acts of vandalism were intentionally committed in the now liberated Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, one of the founding member states of the Foundation. Armenians destroyed historical and architectural samples, museums, libraries, art schools, theatres, simply houses where people lived for many years were destroyed by Armenians. Before the occupation, Karabakh was one of the most flourishing regions of Azerbaijan. Following the liberation, we visited Karabakh with representatives of the diplomatic corps – heads of brotherly Turkic organizations and ambassadors. We watched what was before our eyes with heartache. Unfortunately, the cultural heritage, which had passed from generation to generation for hundreds of years, had been simply wiped off. Everything was destroyed… What is the goal? Erase the traces of history?! Today Azerbaijan has already begun the reconstruction. As the International Turkic Culture and Heritage Foundation, we have also held talks with the Azerbaijani side on restoration work, in order to bring the worldʼs leading experts here, hold conferences, seminars and trainings”.
At the end of her speech, the president of the Foundation, drawing attention to important issues that can be considered a guarantor of peace in Karabakh mentioned: “The development of multicultural and tolerant values, respect for each other’s identities, material and spiritual monuments – the universal cultural heritage in general, play an important role in ensuring lasting peace”.