Politics 16:36 12/12/2023 NKR

Expert: Azerbaijan seeks to fully erase Armenian traces in Artsakh

The Ombudsman of Hayk Culture NGO recently warned of Azerbaijan’s crimes, including the erasure of Armenian traces, in the occupied Hadrut region of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh). Azerbaijan is now dismantling old buildings in Hadrut for construction works.

Panorama.am talked to Hovik Avanesov, an expert on Azerbaijan and head of the Center of Caucasian Studies at Mesrop Mashtots University, about the consequences of Azerbaijan's policy of destroying Armenian monuments in the Artsakh settlements occupied by Baku.

Panorama.am: Do you have any updates on the destruction of Armenian buildings in Hadrut by Azerbaijan?

Hovik Avanesov: Recent Azerbaijani media reports suggested that a decision was made to demolish old buildings of Hadrut for construction works. I’d like to emphasize that this is definitely part of Azerbaijan's state genocidal policy. It is not the first time that under the pretext of construction works Azerbaijan has completely or partially demolished historical and architectural buildings in Artsakh and used historical and cultural monuments and cross-stones in construction works. There have been numerous such reports.

It’s best evidenced by the satellite images of the Caucasus Heritage Watch, which clearly show a road running through the historical cemeteries in the town of Shushi.

We have no other information regarding the demolition of buildings in Hadrut at the moment. When new data is available, we will immediately publish them in Armenian and foreign languages.

Panorama.am: How far, in your opinion, can the enemy, Azerbaijan, go in its efforts to erase the Armenian traces? After destroying cross-stones, ripping crosses off churches and erasing Armenian inscriptions, will they move to destroy churches as well?

Hovik Avanesov: Undoubtedly, Azerbaijan is trying to wipe off all Armenian traces in the occupied territories of Artsakh as evidenced by Baku's ongoing policy. After the war in 2020, Aliyev, standing near a church in Azeri-occupied Hadrut, ordered the erasure of all inscriptions from Armenian churches, saying that Armenians had “Armenianized” the so-called Aghvan cultural heritage, which, of course, has nothing to do with reality.

As part of this policy, Baku is destroying historical and cultural heritage, as well as buildings which are of historical value, in Hadrut and all other settlements of Artsakh, thus distorting the identity and distinctive features of the Artsakh settlements. This is also an important circumstance which should be in the spotlight.

Azerbaijan is not definitely going to stop given that international specialized structures only make routine statements.  Although there are also targeted statements that record the destruction of Armenian cultural heritage by Azerbaijan and call for its immediate cessation and steps by Baku, we will continue to witness such cases as Azerbaijan has not been held accountable for its actions and war crimes.

Each of us should do our best in this matter: we should record and present to the international community all the facts of destruction of Armenian monuments by Azerbaijan. It is also necessary to disseminate the valuable materials we have on the cultural heritage of Artsakh, raising awareness of them internationally.

I have already said that Azerbaijan will not stop there and will try to completely erase the Armenian traces in the settlements occupied by it: everything that they fail to portray as Aghvanian or Orthodox heritage is being destroyed by Azerbaijan or is under the threat of destruction.

Azerbaijan seeks to erase the Armenian traces in the region. This is the Azerbaijani peace agenda, they are trying to demonstrate that Armenians were not originally part of this region and did not create any civilizational values here, which is not true. Azerbaijan's policy of destroying Armenian monuments proves just the opposite – that Armenians have created a colossal civilizational value which is part of not only the Armenian, but also the world civilization.

Source Panorama.am
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