PACE Rapporteur on Cultural Heritage to Survey Julfa Destruction

(A1+/ANCA)–The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) General Rapporteur on Cultural Heritage agreed on Tuesday to visit Ancient Armenian cemeteries in Julfa that were recently demolished by Azeri troops.

Stepan Demirchyan–a member of the Armenian delegation to PACE–met with Edward O’Hara during a PACE session currently underway in Strasbourg. Demirchyan reported that O’Hara agreed to survey the destruction sometime in May and to prepare a report.

Demirchyan replaced outgoing Armenian delegation member Shavarsh Kocharyan who had previously requested PACE send a fact-finding mission to the historic Julfa Armenian cemetery in Nakhichevan.

The cemetery includes cross stones from as far back as the 7th century and is revered as an architectural treasure. International concerns were raised in 2002–when hundreds of the cross stones were destroyed in a similar manner by Azerbaijan.

Nakhichevan is a historic part of the Armenian homeland and was an integral part of the first Armenian Republic of 1918-1920. It was arbitrarily severed from Armenia and placed under Azeri rule as part of the Soviet Union’s accommodation with Kemalist Turkey and Moscow’s "divide and conquer" gerrymandering of borders to facilitate its control of the region. During the Soviet era–the indigenous Armenian population was driven out of Nakhichevan due to discrimination–economic pressure–and other policies advanced by the Soviet Azeri authorities.

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