YEREVAN (Combined Sources)—The UNESCO General Conference on Friday voted to admit Armenia as a member of the Council of the UNESCO International Bureau of Education.
Armenia, along with Bulgaria, Slovakia and Latvia had applied for the three vacant spots in the council. Armenia received 108 votes and will be represented by Deputy Minister of Education and Science, Karine Harutyunyan.
Prior to last week’s vote, Armenia’s Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian addressed the
36th session of UNESCO General Conference. His remarks are provided below:
Armenia is a country rich with cultural monuments dating back to the 4th millennium BC. There are some 33,000 historical and cultural monuments in Armenia under state protection, which are included in the State Register of National Heritage.
For centuries, the Armenian people has created numerous and diverse cultural monuments most of which, due to known historical events are now situated outside the Republic of Armenia. Our neighbors have displayed different approaches towards the preservation of Armenian historical heritage.
There is a good cooperation with Iran that takes proper care of the Armenian monuments situated on its territory. The proof of the aforementioned is the inclusion of St Thaddeus, St Stepanos monasteries and the Chapel of Dzordzor in the World Heritage List, presented by Iran.
In Yerevan, an 18th century mosque has been restored, through the joint efforts of the Armenian and Iranian specialists.
A promising cooperation has started also in this context with our neighbor – Georgia.
Unfortunately, this positive experience is not reciprocated by our other neighbors. As a result of the policy of destruction of the Armenian historical heritage, thousands of cultural monuments that were of universal value have been lost forever.
In an era when the protection and promotion of human rights are considered to be the underpinning principles, damaging or destroying cultural or religious memory intentionally, consistently, repeatedly, must be strongly condemned in order to prevent any future possible repetition of the past mistakes.
Last year “Armenian cross-stones art” was included in the representative list of the Intangible cultural heritage of UNESCO. This year we were glad to exhibit the marvelous art of these Armenian khachkars at the exhibition that was held at the UNESCO Headquarters.
Unfortunately, thousands of these cross-stones in the medieval cemetery of Nakhijevan were completely destroyed within a few years time under the instructions and the watchful eye of Azerbaijan’s leadership, turning this area into military ground. Such destruction of delicately carved cross-stones, created by the Armenian masters during the Middle Ages is a manifestation of the blind hatred towards other peoples’ cultures.
The resolution of the 16th General Assembly of International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) states with regards to this vandalism that regretfully “this heritage that once enjoyed its worthy place among the treasures of the world heritage can no longer be transmitted today to future generations”.
500th anniversary of the Armenian bookprinting will be marked next year. This anniversary coincides with the proclamation of Yerevan by UNESCO as the World Book Capital 2012. On these occasions a number of special events will be organised and we look forward to the active participation of UNESCO member states in these events.