BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN
We have extensively criticized Armenia’s foreign policy and diplomatic efforts vis-à-vis the protocols and the Karabakh conflict resolution process, but a small news item Thursday prompts us to warn that someone’s asleep at the wheel again.
UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, voted to admit Azerbaijan on its body that oversees the preservation of cultural monuments around the world. The Azeri news item points out that Armenia did not get the necessary votes to be included in this important body.
For over a decade now Azerbaijan has been mounting a two-pronged policy where, on the one hand, it is systematically destroying Armenian cultural monuments in Nakhichevan and elsewhere in Azerbaijan, while, on the diplomatic front waging an international campaign to accuse Armenia of doing the same.
Our publication has extensively covered Azerbaijan’s campaign to eradicate Armenian historical monuments and efforts by Armenian NGO’s, and to a certain extent governments to shed light on this cultural Genocide.
Yet when push comes to shove, the diplomatic corps, especially those guiding our representations at the UN, have fallen short.
For years, planned visits by UNESCO officials have been postponed and cancelled and Armenia’s efforts to shed light on this critical matter have gone on deaf ears. Now, Azerbaijan not only will ensure that relevant UNESCO bodies will visit the region, they will also stage this junket to meet their needs and correspond to their destructive policies.
When Armenian Revolutionary Federation Parliamentary bloc chairman Vahan Hovannesian raised the imperative for new blood in the foreign ministry and in Armenia’s diplomatic circles, he was alluding to the tired nature of our diplomatic activities in comparison to the excess noise that usually surrounds Azeri efforts.
Several years ago, Azerbaijan’s diplomats maneuvered a resolution at the UN Security Council, which, in no uncertain terms characterized Armenia as an “aggressor.” Just last month, again due to Azeri efforts, the European Parliament approved a report urging the immediate withdrawal of Armenians from the liberated territories surrounding the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
In response to the UN Security Council decision, Armenia was quick to point out that the international powers—US, Russia, France and other European countries—abstained from the vote and condemned the discussion of the Karabakh conflict outside the framework of the OSCE. A similar response was also provided for last month’s debacle, with Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian saying that the countries involved in the mediation process had unequivocally declared that only the OSCE was mandated with dealing with the Karabakh issue. Let’s not even revisit the deafening silence from official Yerevan during most of the protocols process.
A clear pattern of reacting rather than initiating can be seen in Armenia’s maneuvering of important foreign policy issues and its lack of activism is paving the way for others to step in claim legitimacy.
Just how active was Armenia’s UN Mission in lobbying for membership in the UNESCO committee? Perhaps, we will never know. But what is crystal clear is that Azerbaijan just secured a carte blanche to continue the savage desecration of Armenian monuments and perpetuation of its destructive policies.