Cultural Policy

Statement on Nagorno-Karabakh/Artsakh Cultural Heritage Preservation

ARé cultural foundation print




This appeal letter to UNESCO was designed by the ARé Cultural Foundation, Armenia inviting to sign the art/cultural non-governmental organizations in Armenia following the announcement of an agreement between the leaders of Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Russia to bring an end to six -weeks of the intense war in Nagorno-Karabakh/Artsakh.

“Memories warm you up from the inside.

But they also tear you apart.”

― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

This is a pivotal moment in the history of our country and the Armenian people as a whole. In light of the shocking announcement made by Turkish President Erdogan in September 2020, stating to “fulfil this mission, which our grandfathers have carried out for centuries, in the Caucasus region”, Azerbaijan side by side with Turkey, threatened by the renewal of the genocide against Armenian people. Now, when the six-week war is stopped and a big list of Armenian cultural/holy sites have been left in the territory of Azerbaijan, we face again the profound concern of the cultural genocide of the region.

It is an internationally well-known fact that over the past 30 years, Azerbaijan has officially, albeit covert destructed cultural and religious artefacts engaging in a systematic erasure of the country’s historic Armenian heritage including tens of thousands of UNESCO-protected ancient stone carvings (cross-stones/khachkars) in a place called Djulfa in the Azerbaijani enclave of Nakhichevan. The numerous reports of desecrations being received after the end of this war indicate similar acts in newly occupied territories of Artsakh.

We urge UNESCO to take all appropriate measures to protect these sites from cultural cleansing. These cultural jewels are part of not only Armenian but also the world's historical memory and cultural heritage. We exhort to use compelling instruments towards Azerbaijan for the protection of the holy sites, for protection from the threat of cultural genocide. Otherwise, in the next few weeks and months, we might witness the thousand(s) years old churches and monasteries (a list of 85) turning into mosques, and fortresses, ancient cemeteries, mausoleums, and medieval khachkars (another long list) brought to historical dust.