BAKU (Trend.az)—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 Trend.az, 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.