in Russian – https://crossroadorg.info/babakhanyan-3-1-2022/
The Armenian world celebrates the second Christmas after the treacherous attack of the terrorist coalition of Azerbaijan, Turkey, Pakistan and jihadists on the Republic of Artsakh in the fall of 2020. Over the past 2020, Azerbaijan has continued the policy and crimes of cultural genocide (culturicide) against Armenian churches and monuments. For more than a year, the Azerbaijani authorities brazenly do not allow UNESCO experts into their territory, but at the same time, UNESCO cynically elected Azerbaijan on December 3, 2021 as a member of the Committee for the Protection of cultural property during the armed conflict. In general, several publications on the protection of the Armenian heritage did not affect the reality in any way – more effective measures are needed, especially in Russia.
Among the various events, we would like to mention three conferences.
- September 9-10 in Echmiadzin, Armenia – Conference on International Religious Freedom and Peace in the Mother See https://www.armenianchurch.org/index.jsp?sid=3&nid=4618&y=2021&m=8&d=10&lng=en
- November 2-3 in St. Petersburg, Russia – Conference “UN responsibility for the protection of the cultural heritage of ancient peoples from cultural genocide”. Was organized by NGO “Crossroad” (“Khachmeruk”). In particular, the former president and current first vice-president of the International Association of genocide scholars from the United States took part in it. https://aga-tribunal.info/en/conf-2-11-2021-en/
- December 16 in St. Petersburg, Russia – Conference “Society for Peace in Nagorno Karabakh: a year later”. Was organized by the St. Petersburg Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church. Representatives of the Georgian Orthodox Church were invited, which for decades has been opposing Azerbaijan’s insolent “Albanian” claims to the David Gareji monastery complex. In addition to Artsakh, discussion in the conference was also about the problems of many churches in Serbia, Cyprus, the Middle East. https://crossroadorg.info/en/16-12-2021-en/
In the Resolution of the scientific and public session on December 16, the following recommendations were put forward:
– to strengthen international public and scientific cooperation on the preservation of Christian sites on the territory of Azerbaijan and Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh);
– to create an international commission for the preservation of Christian monuments of Nagorno Karabakh, to establish, within its framework, direct and remote monitoring of the situation;
– to prepare Russian and English versions of the current list of Christian monuments of Nagorno Karabakh that need protection and ones that have been destroyed by now;
– to prepare and publish a catalog of Christian monuments of Nagorno Karabakh in Russian, followed by its wide presentation in public and scientific circles;
– to organize and hold an international scientific forum on the problems of preserving Armenian and Georgian Christian monuments on the territory of Azerbaijan and Turkey, as well as Christian sites in Serbia, Cyprus and the Middle East.
The first of these points is related also to the fact that in Russia the problems of the churches of Artsakh are poorly represented in non-Armenian resources. For example, the Russian agency “Association for the defense of religious freedom” (whose leader participated in the conference on December 16) has been publishing 24-page Christian news reports for different countries every month for eight years. The analysis shows that the mention of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) there is about 1%. And the last 160-page annual report does not mention Artsakh and Armenia at all. Another example is the materials of the church-political division of the largest Russian news agency “Regnum”. With all due respect to this agency and their materials, there are questions. Therefore, the situation requires more activity and greater efficiency of the Armenian side. Only individual articles or conferences are not very productive if there is no strategy and systematic work. The strategy assumes the consolidation of still fragmented information, resources, organizations, experts. While the Armenian side is still slow and atomized, the destruction and appropriation by Azerbaijan of Armenian religious and cultural objects continues, the stream of falsifications and bribery by Azerbaijan of officials and journalists in different countries continues.
In December 2021, as a continuation of the two mentioned conferences in St. Petersburg, the formation of a new international association for the protection of the Armenian religious and cultural heritage began. At this stage, among the participants are experts of different specializations, including:
• from the Republic of Artsakh – the Ministry of education, science, culture and sports, the Service for the protection of the historical environment, the Center for Caucasian studies of Mesrop Mashtots University, the Association of young scientists and specialists of Artsakh, NGO “Deoccupation of Shushi”, “Council of the Hasan-Jalalyans”
• from Armenia – NGO “Crossroad” (“Khachmeruk”), Academy of political studies, NGO “Against the Violation of Law”, Research on Armenian architecture Foundation (RAA), Assembly of Azerbaijani Armenians, Research Center “Alternative”, Institute of archeology and ethnography, Yerevan State university
• from Russia – the Institute of political and social research of the Black Sea-Caspian region named after V. Artsruni, Coordination Council of Russian-Armenian Organizations, Armenian Scientific Center ARMAEN.
Recently published Digest for December 2021 in Russian and English. https://crossroadorg.info/en/digest-dec-2021-en/
The Digest was sent, in particular, to the above-mentioned “Association for the defense of religious freedom” news agency with the hope that some of the 50 information messages for December will be included in this agency’s Digest for December.
Any Armenian organization and any expert of the Diaspora can take part in this unifying project. Obviously, a lot depends on Russia. Therefore, the fact of the conference at the site of the largest diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church is very important. St. Petersburg is a special city in terms of Artsakh. It was from the Armenian community of St. Petersburg that the initiative to Appeal to President V. Putin for the protection of the Armenian heritage of Artsakh came out. On November 17, 2020, about 80 prominent cultural figures of Russia signed that Appeal. https://www.armspb.org/post/17-11-2020 One of the two highest sacred places in Russia is located in St. Petersburg – the Alexander Nevsky Lavra. The conference on December 16 took place on its territory. By the way, the only State Duma deputy who regularly travels to Artsakh is the representative of St. Petersburg Vitaly Milonov. Before the New Year, he brought gifts to Artsakh for 600 children from the families of those killed, wounded and internally displaced persons of the 44-day war.
In January, it is planned to continue cooperation with the diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church. In our speech at the conference, we urged our Russian colleagues not to limit ourselves to dialogue only with Echmiadzin, with Armenia, with representatives of the Armenian community in Russia, but also to conduct a dialogue with representatives of the Armenian Diaspora. Also it is important to cooperate with international, incl. Christian organizations. Recall that in the Resolution of the conference on December 16, it was said about the creation of an international expert commission and about new conference (de facto under the patronage of the diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church). Therefore, the task of prompt and, if possible, full-fledged consolidation of the Armenian side is so urgent in order to exclude subjectivity.
We need to find wise steps in the current conditions of asymmetry, when, on the one hand, a lot depends on Russia, which de facto decides on the spot, and on the other hand, Moscow does not adequately qualify the obvious crimes committed by Azerbaijan and Turkey against Artsakh. Such assessment is voiced by actors outside Russia. It is wise steps that can give a result, and for this the Armenian side needs to move from fragmentation and episodicity to consolidation and development of a common solidarity position, strategy and roadmap. In this regard, it is highly desirable to start a series of round tables on this topic with the participation of representatives of the Diaspora and international organizations early in January after Christmas.
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