Azerbaijan Elected to UNESCO Culture and Heritage Body

Azerbaijani soldiers photographed destroying tombstones at the Djulfa cemetery. Courtesy Arthur Gevorgian, December 2005.

BAKU (—Azerbaijan has been elected to a four-year-term membership of a key cultural heritage committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry reported on Thursday.

The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage is considered among the most influential structures of the organization and deals with the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills, instruments, objects, artifacts and cultural spaces that groups and communities recognize as cultural heritage.

“Azerbaijan’s entry into the committee will allow it to fulfill an important role and be part of the discussion about the world’s intangible cultural heritage,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement, adding that the unique position will also allow Azerbaijan to nominate its own cultural heritage for inclusion in the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Armenia, which was also nominated for the 24-member body, did not get the number of votes needed to ascend to the body.

The elections for the UNESCO body were held during the organization’s General Assembly in Paris from June 22-24. According to, Azerbaijan’s Permanent Mission to UNESCO and the country’s various envoys stationed in foreign countries heavily lobbied both UNESCO and its participating members to vote in favor of Azerbaijan.

This five-minute film, tells the tragic story of thousands of ancient Armenian headstones flattened to the ground by the Azerbaijani authorities in Djulfa or Julfa (Jugha in Armenian), Nakhichevan.

“As a result of the work conducted by the Foreign Ministry and other relevant structures, Azerbaijan was elected a member of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Heritage for 2010-2014,” the Ministry said.

Azerbaijan’s election comes despite a systematic campaign carried out by its government between 1998 and 2005 to completely destroy a cemetery of medieval Armenian khachkars (cross stones) near the town of Julfa, Nakhchivan. A historic Armenian territory, Julfa has been under Azerbaijani rule since the early 1920s when Armenia was sovietized and its territories annexed by Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia.

Numerous appeals were filed by both Armenian and international organizations, condemning the Azerbaijani government and calling on it to desist from such activity. In 2006, Azerbaijan barred European Parliament members from investigating the claims, charging them with a “biased and hysterical approach” to the issue. In the spring of 2006, a journalist from the Institute for War and Peace Reporting who visited the cemetery wrote that it had “completely vanished.” In the same year, photographs taken from Iran showed that the cemetery site had been turned into a military firing range.


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  1. FrankM said:

    Typical turkish way.
    Break and destroy

    For sure they must have paid money to a few people in UNESCO
    What are we supposed to do now

  2. Grish Begian said:

    Dear Frank,
    UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Mihreban Aliyeva the wife of Mongol Ilham Aliev knows how to fool UNESCO and demolish Armenian churches and monuments..Muslims especially Turks know how to convert Christian churches into stables and Mosques, just like Hagia Sophia. European corruption and greediness will end with the same faith, as happened to Byzantine Empire…right now Europe are barking at Turks and Muslims, but in reality money hungry UNESCO officials are demoralized, corrupted, they will sale, their own monuments to Muslim Turks, for few extra Euros…what a shame..

  3. Abbe said:

    The only problem here is NOT UNESCO it is the Armenian leaders. I SWEAR if the president of Armenia was a DOG we would have much greater influence in the world then now.
    I GET really frustrated when I am thinking about this >:(

    • Raffi said:

      How about strong Armenian Diaspora to influence the world. Are you blaming them??

      • Zareh said:

        Raffi, Diaspora cannot represent Armenia in UNESCO it is the government of Armenia who has to work (something that is foreign to the current lazy leadership of Armenia) harder to secure either Armenia’s inclusion or at least at least the exclusion of criminal Azerbaijan. This shocking defeat adds to a long list of defeats on important international bodies. In fact there has not been any meaningful victory of Armenian diplomacy since Sarkissian came to power. We are always reacting to Turkish/Azeri diplomatic assaults and trying to catch up in a hopeless one-legged marathon. Wait till hear next a condemnation from UNESCO of Armenia demolishing fictitious “azeri” so-called monuments. Real Armenian monuments, cemeteries, churches having been destroyed by criminal azeri regime goes unpunished. Shame on Armenians for not waking up. All you have to do is look at the composition of the Parliament members (mostly comprised of shady business people) to realize how Armenians are destroying Armenia.

        • Raffi said:

          Zareh, Have you checked composition of the US senate members, all of them are millionaires or I am from Lebanon and you should check composition of Lebanese Parliament members. When you have money you get elected…

          Armenia with its 3 million population with no natural resources, landlocked can not fight almost 100 million Turks or 1 Bilion Muslims alone. I do not blame Sarkissian for UNESCO blunder I blame Azeris Petro-dollar buying influence. Unesco is located in France and Armenian community of France could of been very helpful.

          One more thing there is no such thing as a clever Diplomacy, Strong Diplomacy needs strong economy with lots of currency, something we don’t have at this time.

          • Zareh said:

            The difference is among our parliamentarians there exist quite a few two-bit illiterate thieves who have bought themselves a seat to exclusively line their pockets with more money. They don’t even pretend to give a s@#t about the nation, and Sakisian is very comfortable with such legislators. As for the power that the enemy represents, this is not an excuse to be on a constant political “vacation”. Nothing less than the future of our nation is at stake here.

          • Abbe said:

            Well something I am very shore of is that if a country dosn’t hafve a strong leader then the people can’t do much.
            I am reading everywhere that the Azeri people is very npoor and bla bla bla but still they have their faith in what ever that is…. but nothing about that about Armenians.
            The even rader part is that the entire regim corrupt so it is not only Alyyev that is a theif here, I know because one in my family was in this regim before he said something we shouldn’t have.
            Anyway, new leaders that have power, that people trust and that KNOW WHAT THEY WANT.
            Don’t blame the diaspora, when there is ONE person that have dubble the power. Blame the president.

            Armenians voting from other countries would be good btw 😛

  4. Grish Begian said:

    Dear friends,
    Ara Abramian, Armenian born Russian billionaire should have some influence over other members, regards to Armenian monuments in Azerbaijan, where is our Armenian pride???????????

    # The following personalities currently assume the position of UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador:
    # Ara Abramian
    # Valdas Adamkus
    # Mehriban Aliyeva
    # Alicia Alonso
    # Ivonne A-Baki
    # Patrick Baudry
    # Pierre Bergé
    # Chantal Biya
    # Montserrat Caballé
    # Pierre Cardin
    # Claudia Cardinale
    # H.R.H. the Princess of Hanover
    # Esther Coopersmith
    # Cheick Modibo Diarra
    # Miguel Angel Estrella
    # Vigdís Finnbogadóttir
    # H.R.H. Princess Firyal of Jordan
    # Ivry Gitlis
    # Christine Hakim
    # Bahia Hariri
    # Vitaly Ignatenko
    # Jean Michel Jarre
    # Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière
    # H.R.H. Princess Lalla Meryem of Morocco
    # Omer Zülfü Livaneli
    # H.R.H. Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand
    # Jean Malaurie
    # Nelson Mandela
    # H.R.H. the Grand Duchess María Teresa of Luxembourg
    # Lily Marinho
    # Rigoberta Menchu Túm
    # Kitín Muñoz
    # Ute-Henriette Ohoven
    # Cristina Owen-Jones
    # Kim Phuc Phan Thi
    # Susana Rinaldi
    # Yazid Sabeg
    # H.E. Sheikh Ghassan I. Shaker
    # Madanjeet Singh
    # Zurab Tsereteli
    # Giancarlo Elia Valori
    # Marianna Vardinoyannis
    # Milú Villela

  5. vahe said:

    The ironic thing here is IRAN who is shiite and and is portrayed by media as evil, has actually placed Armenian churches in UNESCO, such as ‘St. Thaddeus’ church in northern Iran (near Armenia…legend is Jesus’ disciples Bartholomew and Thaddeus travelled here and it was in this very church where the spear that was used to stab Jesus ended up-or something similar). Most people aren’t aware but Iranians have not ever even vandalized Armenian churches, much less erasing their existence. We have always enjoyed religious freedom and have never been afraid of expressing our ‘Armenianness’. Instead of UN, EU, USA, understanding how crucial Iran has been to Armenia for millenia, they are setting up ways to cause problems between us and them. 1. Usa is planning to send ‘peacekeepers’ in fizuli-a security zone controlled by armenians that borders Iran. 2. The Israel-Usa sponsored exile of Armenian Iranians to USA and EU. 3. Eventually Usa will help Azerbaijan with their bogus claims that northern Iran is ‘ancient azeri land’. 4. When Usa helps Azeris tear apart Iran-azeris will maybe try to grab Syunik, the land which connects armenia to iran and is VERY important for armenia’s existence. 5. Trying to get armenia to join NATO. The one thing that armenia can NEVER afford to lose is it’s border with Iran, and Iran does not want this either-as it will mean the beginning of pan-turkism spreading from turkey to china. And all this nuclear talk about iran is not good for armenia in the long run. Armenia has uranim as well, which is another reason usa/israel is trying to stop iran’s relationship with us- as they know russia-armenia-iran is a very powerful alliance.

  6. FrankM said:

    If we try to be friends with everyone then we will be like the Turks.
    They say they are friends with the Americans and Europeans and also with the Muslim world.
    Everyone knows that they are only friends with the religious Muslim world.

    Our true friends are the Russians but even they are not reliable sometimes

    From the Americans we must take whatever we can
    and be very suspicious of them
    They are worse then the Russians when it comes to reliability

    If we do have war then these people have to give us their grantee in writting

  7. Christo said:

    Maybe Armenia’s UN representative was too busy driving around in his (Bimmer, I bet he drives a Benz) picking up Russian hookers in NY, or maybe his reason for not working hard is because he was too busy conceiving some fraudulent scheme to defraud the federal government, either way we lost again to these criminals who are running RoA!

  8. Louise Kiffer said:

    I said once that the difference between human beings and animals was that the animals have no burial places. The Armenians had a cemetery in Djulfa, with sculpted stones dating from thousand years, and the Azeri Government sent soldiers to demolish those tombs. The soldiers threw the stels in the Arax river, and they had to convert the place to a military practice ground. All the members od Unesco knew what happened, they have seen the photos, they have received many meny petitions from Christians all over the world, still they have elected Azerbaijan as member of their Culture and heritage Body.
    Shame on them !

  9. FrankM said:

    We Armenians must bring an end to all the branches of the United Nations organizations
    It is nothing but a joke
    Thanks to Asbarez and Arthur Gevorgian,
    this is a proof to the world that this organization serves only a group of elite people in charge
    They should go to hell

  10. Dino Ajemian said:

    You guys don’t see the potential in this. We know, the barbarians know and UNESCO knows that our churches, grave sites/khatchkars, monasteries and castles have been destroyed by barbarians cut from the same cloth–the turks east and west of whats left of our sacred Armenia. This situation provides us with an opportunity to harrass and shame our enemies and UNESCO. We must have a harrassment campaign on the internet and whenever UNESCO meets and the goodwill ambassadors to show them the light and the error of their ways. Azeris have acted like the taliban. Just as the taliban have destroyed non islamic monuments the azeris have destroyed our monuments. This campaign is good to do on many levels. As the Azeris wish to completely destroy us we must innoculate the world to the truth of the evilness of the turks. As we all know, if this is done, the azeris being stupid, their anger will make them do more stupid acts that will be to our benefit. It may also blunt turkish bloodlust for our Armenian people.Never underestimate the stupidity of our barbarian enemies. It only requires a proactive stance to change the situation to our favor.

    • FrankM said:

      It was the Armenian mass rallies that brought down communism
      So if we plan well maybe we can bring down these evil organizations just like we brought down the communists

    • Nairian said:


      I am 100% in agreement with you. We must do publicity throughout the world about UNESCO’s fiasco of not only accepting the “azerbaijan” demolishers of culture within them; but they are ruling now UNESCO. We must publicize the evilness and the shamefulness of UNESCO throughout the world. Going to the U.N. in New York, in Europe and elsewhere.

  11. MihranK said:

    It is the defeat of Armenian diplomacy at the UN and other international bodies over so many issues, until we have diplomats batting for Armenia nothing will change, what we have now is a bunch of STATE TOURISTS at the expense of the state enjoying themselves and lining up their pockets that’s all.

  12. Nairian said:

    Yes MihranK, our government in Armenia with all their branches and affiliates suck, and that’s the very least that we can say. A new government must be throned – but not just anybody; a government that has vision, care and guts.

  13. Nairian said:

    Plus a government in Armenia that wants to welcome Diasporan political organizations to work with them and advise them too if the need be. But certianly include the Diasporan Armenian organizations and not to say to them (give me your monies and now go away), like the oligarchs have been doing till now.

  14. FrankM said:

    It would be a good thing if the ARF could organize protests
    But then again we have other priorities

  15. MihranK said:

    Nairian, the sooner we have a caring government with all the attributes that go with caring the better for our nation, as we have a bunch of corrupt crooks sucking the blood of our country and taking instructions from foreign interests at our countries expense.