Unesco Pitches Heritage Mission To Nagorno-Karabakh

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Armenians visit a last time the 12th-13th century Orthodox Dadivank Monastery on the outskirts of Kalbajar on November 12, 2020 | Photo: AFP

New York- UN cultural agency Unesco has proposed a field mission to Nagorno-Karabakh to draw up an inventory of cultural assets in a region at the centre of recent fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The list would serve to ensure protection of the region’s most significant heritage, said Unesco director general Audrey Azoulay, after a historic cathedral in Nagorno-Karabakh was badly damaged by shelling last month.

Azoulay proposed the mission at meetings this week with representatives of Armenia and Azerbaijan, said a Unesco statement.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on November 9 announced a Russian-brokered peace accord that ended a six-week war with Azerbaijan over the region that left thousands dead and tens of thousands displaced.

Armenia agreed to hand over swathes of disputed territory controlled by Armenian separatists since a post-Soviet war in the 1990s.

Azoulay met representatives of the two countries this week, and on Friday reiterated that the international community had a duty to protect cultural heritage and preserve it for future generations “beyond the conflicts of the moment.”

She repeated a call “for the protection of heritage in this region and the absolute necessity of preventing any further damage.”

Unesco experts have not been able to visit the affected zone, the organization said.

To this end, “Unesco will work with all interested partners to create the conditions” for a technical mission to the region.

“Unesco will work with all interested partners to create the conditions for such a mission. High-level consultations have begun with the States co-chairing the Minsk Group” mediating a solution to the conflict.

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