PARIS–Addressing the 32nd Session of United Nations Educational–Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) General Conference–Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian described the body as the guardian of universal cultural values.
Armenia has been a UNESCO member since 1996–and is a part of the Convention on the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. Since its membership–three Armenian medieval monastic complexes were entered in the World Heritage List.
Noting the cooperation of Armenia’s neighbors Iran and Georgia in preserving cultural and historical monumen’s–Oskanian expressed hope that through culture–Armenia could also work with Turkey to preserve valuable monumen’s. "The churches in Ani–Armenia’s medieval capital–are architecturally important–and also significant for their near-border location. They offer a prime opportunity to work together to restore not just monumen’s–but also mutual trust and confidence."
He noted however–that Azerbaijan has systematically planned and allocated energy and resources in the area of Nakhichevan–to drive out the Armenian population that once lived there. "There are none there today. However–even when the live Armenia’s were gone–memorials of their centuries-long past remained."
Speaking about the destruction of the 5,000 cross stones of the Jugha Armenian cemetery in Nakhichevan–Oskanian said that their disappearance not only symbolizes the loss of Armenian history–but also "demonstrates shortsighted–isolationist thinking in the face of global insistence on shared values and tolerance. Azerbaijan is a country living in fear of its past."
Oskanian urged UNESCO to push with full force its mission to establish tolerance and respect for human rights–specifically in the South Caucasus.