YEREVAN (Tert)—The third international conference on cultural policy, “Cultural Policy and Policy for Culture”, organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), concluded in Yerevan on Monday and adopted a declaration strongly condemning cultural vandalism.
At the concluding session of the international congress, participants unanimously agreed that every nation has the right to create cultural values and to live in harmony with others. They issued a call for preserving cultural diversity.
In his speech, Deputy Minister of Culture Ashot Hovakimyan described disrespect for other nations’ culture as cultural genocide that poses a threat to the given ethnic group’s identity.
“Not only physical extermination but also the elimination of cultural [values] can wipe out a nation’s trace from history,” he said, urging for strong and consistent efforts towards condemning cultural and religious vandalism.
“Culture has an undeniable role in sustainable development, whose imperative is more than ever actual today. The simple understanding of this will establish stability and peace in the world,” he added.
The deputy minister said that the conference’s message is to enable cultural dialogue and mutual understanding amongst peoples, as opposed to creating artificial divides.
“The preservation of cultural diversity is as important for the next generation as it is for the preservation of biodiversity,” he added.
Hovakimyan noted that the attack on thousands of Armenian khachkars (cross-stones) by Azerbaijani soldiers in Jugha in 2005 went unpunished by the international community, creating a breeding ground for the elimination of cultural heritage seen today in Syria and Iraq.
“What we see today is unprecedented in size. The intentional destruction of cultural values today has become a form of strategic tactics,” he said, calling for concerted international efforts against the threats.
“I am hopeful that the adopted declaration will have its contribution [to our efforts], and the principles enshrined therein will find a practical application in terms of the preservation of universal cultural heritage,” Hovakimyan added.
Armenia’s Minister of Culture Hasmik Poghosyan gave assurances that Armenia will continue cooperating with UNESCO.
“The European Union programs are steadily integrating into our ideology. We are re-affirming our support to cultural diversity as an integral part of human civilization and we are determined to provide all guarantees,” she said.
Poghosyan said Armenia welcomes the idea of uniting for preserving cultural heritage and against cultural genocide.
Delegates from forty-five countries and organizations participated in the conference.