Zovko calls for urgent UNESCO mission in and around Nagorno-Karabakh
Strasbourg, 10 March 2022
Željana Zovko, Vice Chair of the Foreign Affairs committee in the European Parliament and standing rapporteur on Azerbaijan intervened during the plenary session in Strasbourg in a debate on the destruction of cultural heritage in and around Nagorno-Karabach.
“Cultural heritage, national or religious, is a representation of peoples’ identity. These artefacts, buildings, monuments are built with the greatest care and devotion. It is something people are proud of.” Zovko stated and added that respect and protection of cultural heritage is not only a part of our European values and the European Neighbourhood Policy, it is also enshrined in several international conventions and treaties.
Zovko said that if these monuments are destroyed or desecrated, it is an insult and a direct attack. According to the MEP, by erasing cultural heritage, history is altered and the evidence of the existence of an entity vanishes.
“In conflict areas, such as in and around Nagorno-Karabach, monuments and religious buildings are often targeted because of their symbolic value, something I deeply deplore and strongly condemn.” Zovko said.
She stressed that it is just thanks to this inherent meaning that cooperation on and mutual respect for cultural heritage has a power of reconciliation; a power to promote co-existence; a power that can lead to peace.
A first is to take stock of the status of cultural heritage in the region. Therefore, Zovko called on UNESCO and the international community to urgently organise a fact-finding mission in and around Nagorno-Karabach. She also expressed her call on the states of Azerbaijan and Armenia to fully cooperate.