Delegation from PACE to Visit Nakhichevan

YEREVAN (Armenpress/Public Radio)–A delegation from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Culture and Education Commission has agreed to visit the Armenian cemetery in Old Julfa this spring to study the destruction of Armenian monumen’s there. After their visit–the delegation will prepare a report about the protection of the remaining Armenian monumen’s.

Former member of the Armenian delegation to PACE Shavarsh Kocharian told today at a press conference that he has presented to the Council of Europe Ministers Committee a project on "Urgency of Preventing Final Destruction of Armenian Cemetery in Old Jugha."

Kocharian also said that Europe welcomes dialogue about the matter and does not tolerate such barbaric acts. He said that the report adopted by PACE will have great importance in the maintenance of Armenian cultural monumen’s.

Stepan Demirchyan–current member of the Armenian delegation to PACE–met with Europe PACE General Rapporteur on Cultural Heritage Edward O’Hara in January and reported that O’Hara agreed to survey the destruction Azeri troops have caused sometime in May.

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 by Azerbaijan.

The cemetery–home to more than 10,000 individual khatchkars–suffered its worst attacks starting late last year. Azeri forces were captured on video–crushing hundreds of the crosses and loading the rubble onto trucks.

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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