March 4, 2021 - 11:16 AMT
European Commission deplores Azeri attacks on Karabakh Cathedral

High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell has said that the European Commission deplores the damages caused to the Ghazanchetsots Cathedral in the Nagorno-Karabakh city of Shushi by the Azerbaijani armed forces, the European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy reports.

The remarks came in response to an urgent written question sent to the European Commission by the Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Loucas Fourlas (Cyprus, EPP).

In his question, Fourlas mentioned that the Azerbaijani armed forces targeted and attacked Shushi’s Ghazanchetsots Cathedral on 8 October 2020, in violation of international rules of war. The MEP asked the European Commission whether the latter is planning to take steps “to protect both the civilian population and places of worship” in Artsakh/Karabakh that are currently under the Azerbaijani control.

Responding the MEP, the European Commission noted that it deplores the destruction of religious and historic monuments in Nagorno Karabakh and underlines the importance of preserving and restoring the cultural and religious heritage.

Furthermore, in his answer the High Representative refers to the of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2347 (2017), which gives the definition of the war crimes, targeting of the religious, educational and cultural centers.

According to EAFJD, the Commission has also welcomed the mission proposed by UNESCO aimed at establishing a first factual assessment of the Armenian cultural heritage that has come under Azerbaijan's control. It will also contribute to supporting the preservation and restoration of the cultural sites.

Concerns about the preservation of cultural sites in Nagorno-Karabakh are made all the more urgent by the Azerbaijani government’s history of systemically destroying indigenous Armenian heritage—acts of both warfare and historical revisionism. The Azerbaijani government has secretly destroyed a striking number of cultural and religious artifacts in the late 20th century. Within Nakhichevan alone, a historically Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan, Azerbaijani forces destroyed at least 89 medieval churches, 5,840 khachkars (Armenian cross stones) and 22,000 historical tombstones between 1997 and 2006.