PLENARY SPEECH 10/03/2022 – Resolution on the Destruction of cultural heritage in Nagorno-Karabakh

Dear colleagues,

Aggression of Russia against Ukraine demonstrates once again how important is EU’s engagement withthe Eastern Partnership countries. While the EU was largely absent during the second Nagorno-Karabakh war, we can still make a difference if we take a more active role today.

War is not a solution and the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh cannot be solved by military force. This is one of the lessons learned from the first Nagorno-Karabakh war. Falsification of history, as well as war against cultural heritage, cannot be justified. Actions perpetrated by Armenia in the past, and damage to Azerbaijani heritage over the past decades, does not justify attacks on cultural heritage in the present.

Sustainable peace has to be negotiated. Reconciliation and rehabilitation should stem from mutual respect, including respect for minority rights and protection of historical, religious and cultural heritage.

While effort is needed from both sides to resolve this conflict, we condemn the continued policy of Azerbaijan to erase and deny Armenian cultural heritage in and around Nagorno-Karabakh.

I would like to recall the provisional measures introduced by the International Court of Justice last year in the case of Armenia versus Azerbaijan. I quote – “Azerbaijan must take all necessary measures to prevent and punish acts of vandalism and desecration affecting Armenian cultural heritage, including but not limiting to churches and other places of worship, monuments, landmarks, cemeteries and artefacts.”

I urge Azerbaijan to remove all obstacles and facilitate the UNESCO independent mission of experts in order to assess the situation regarding cultural properties in and around Nagorno-Karabakh.

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