Albanian Historical and Cultural Monuments from Armenia's List and the Consequences of the Vandalism of the Hay Occupiers

27.11.23 16:29

Armenia has prepared a list of 140 historic and cultural monuments in Karabakh, written in English, to collaborate with international partners. The Hayan media and social networks continue to propagate hysteria regarding a perceived threat to these monuments, stating that Azerbaijan intends to demolish them.

The list may be considered "modest" according to Hay standards. It is worth mentioning that two Armenian religious organisations, namely the Armenian Apostolic Church headquartered in Echmiadzin and the Armenian Catholic Church Ordinariate in Eastern Europe based in Gyumri, have jointly asserted their legal rights to approximately 465 Georgian churches located in Georgia. This is not taking into account the numerous Georgian churches located in the Republic of Armenia, which have all been captured and claimed by Echmiadzin without exception. Thus, this is not the first instance of Hay nationalists making claims on property belonging to others....

It should be noted that all monuments in Karabakh dating up to the mid-19th century are undoubtedly part of Azerbaijan's cultural heritage. The list includes Christian churches and other monuments allegedly claimed by Armenia as "Armenian". However, the ethnic Hayes played no role in their creation. These structures actually belong to the Albanian Church or the Albanian Catholicosate, the history of which is an inseparable part of Azerbaijan's history. The history of Caucasian Albania, its Christian population and the Albanian Church, also forms an integral part of Azerbaijan's history. Albanian heritage has been unlawfully taken by settlers and occupiers. These individuals had and still have no entitlement to the monuments they took, which are now being restored to their rightful owner - the people of Azerbaijan. It is worth noting that Azerbaijan has a Christian population of over 200,000. However, the historical monuments created by their ancestors during the time when the ancient inhabitants of Caucasian Albania professed Christianity remain significant to Muslim Azerbaijanis. They hold a dear value to them.

The Albanian Catholicosate was gradually brought under Echmiadzin's control, through a series of underhanded tactics, and was illegally assimilated into the latter under the rule of Russia. However, this does not detract from the fact that these churches and cultural treasures remain distinctly Albanian in character. Following their liberation from the Hay regime, all Albanian cultural sites, churches, and monasteries will be placed under the unwavering protection of the government of Azerbaijan, ensuring their preservation against all possible threats. On the other hand, Azerbaijan will endeavour to preserve and repair the cross-stones that are in critical or partially damaged condition, without any fabricated and fraudulent late Hay "insertions".

In contrast, the quantity of recently produced, yet purportedly "ancient" cross-stones, crafted during the occupation and transplanted into historic Albanian temples, is excessive. Azerbaijani scientists have announced that they will investigate each instance of historical falsification separately through the expertise of art historians, historians, archaeologists, and other specialists. The assistance of Georgian scientists, who specialize in church architecture, is also welcome.

Regarding the limited number of churches and historical and cultural monuments in Karabakh constructed by Hayes following the Russian Empire's mass resettlement of Azerbaijani lands with Hay migrants and transfer of the Albanian Catholicosate to Echmiadzin, Azerbaijan has also taken responsibility for safeguarding these cultural sites. Azerbaijan wishes that some of the Hay citizens of Karabakh, who have been misled by separatists and extremists, may reconsider and opt for Azerbaijani citizenship, which they are fully entitled to, and return to Karabakh. In case they establish their own religious communities, the relevant churches constructed by Hay migrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries may be allocated for their use. 

For any structures that were erected or significantly changed during the occupation (since 1990) and falsely labelled by the occupants and separatists as "historical and cultural monuments", a decision regarding each of these objects will be made separately. It should be noted that these so-called "monuments" were built in contravention of Azerbaijani law.

Mention must be made of structures established by occupants that glorify and promote terrorism and separatism, and serve to indoctrinate terrorists and assailants against the peaceful Azerbaijani population. "Monuments" and "memorials" dedicated to terrorists and occupants, including Nazi criminal Garegin Nzhdeh or terrorist Monte Melkonyan, are particularly concerning. It is evident that such "monuments" have no place on Azerbaijani territory.

It is pertinent to remind those who are creating sensationalism globally about the supposed destruction of Azerbaijani cultural monuments about the extensive damage caused to such sites by Hayan extremists. This destruction occurred not only in the occupied territories of Karabakh but also on the territory of the Republic of Armenia, which is historically known as Western Azerbaijan.

Armenians who allegedly destroyed towns, mosques, cultural artifacts, and museums and also desecrated graves of Azerbaijanis in Karabakh, even stealing the ashes of Natavan, are now accusing Azerbaijan of neglecting cultural heritage. To achieve this goal, they are deliberately concealing their own acts of vandalism. Additionally, unscrupulous individuals in international organisations are assisting them.

It should be noted that UNESCO experts did not accept Baku's invitation to visit Karabakh, which included Khankendi and Aghdam, the latter of which was destroyed by the Armenians. The recognition of Azerbaijan as the occupier's victim, who suffered from complete destruction and vandalism, would have been crucial in this situation. Furthermore, the authorities of the Republic of Armenia, who are the occupiers, have the responsibility of making compensation to Azerbaijan for the considerable physical and moral damage that was inflicted upon it.

George Kvinitadze.

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