In addition to the physical damage inflicted upon Shushi’s Sourp Ghazanchetsots Cathedral, Azerbaijan continues its attempts to distort the Armenian identity of the church through changes to its architectural integrity under the pretext of renovations, said Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Vahan Hunanyan on Friday in a statement on the occasion of the anniversary of the bombing of the cathedral by Azerbaijani armed forces.
“During the military aggression unleashed against Artsakh and its people on October 8, 2020, the Azerbaijani armed forces twice launched air strikes on Shushi’s Ghazanchetsots Church with high-precision weapons, causing significant damage to the cathedral. Shortly after the November 9 trilateral statement the same church was vandalized and desecrated,” explained Hunanyan.
He said that the deliberate bombing of the church is not only a criminal act to be condemned by the international law, but also is a symbolic example of intentions, as it is an obvious manifestation of Azerbaijan’s policy, which seeks to eliminate any trace of Armenian presence in the territory of Artsakh.
“A year after the aggression unleashed by Azerbaijan against Artsakh, the fate of nearly 1500 historical-cultural heritage and worship sites, as well as thousands of museum exhibits in the territories of Artsakh, which came under the Azerbaijani control, remains uncertain and in danger. There are numerous cases that prove the deliberate destruction and vandalism of Armenian churches, cultural and other religious monuments by the Azerbaijani armed forces. Furthermore, in addition to their physical destruction, we are seeing Azerbaijan’s consistent attempts to falsify historical facts and distort the identity of the Armenian monuments,” he said.
Hunanyan said that that Azerbaijan deliberately continues to block or restrict, as much as possible, the access of a mission by UNESCO experts to the endangered Armenian cultural heritage sites, as an attempt to conceal its war crimes.
“The atrocities against historical-cultural monuments and places of worship, which are the peoples’ cultural and religious heritage, grossly violate international law and go counter to universal values and must be strongly condemned. Shushi’s Holy Savior Cathedral [Ghazanchetsots] is one of the key centers of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Artsakh, thus clerics and parishioners of the Armenian Church must have unrestricted access to that site of worship, said Hunanyan.