BAKU—US Ambassador to Azerbaijan, Matthew Bryza was denied entry into Djulfa Thursday. According to the US Embassy in Baku, Bryza intended to visit the desecrated historic Armenian monuments there.
The ambassador’s request to visit Djulfa was denied. But authorities in Nakhchivan did discuss the Djulfa Khachkars in detail with Ambassador Bryza and pledged to work with him to facilitate a visit to the Djulfa cemetery in coming months, said a press release issued by the embassy.
“As I pledged to do in Washington before arriving as Ambassador, I traveled to Nakhchivan to investigate what happened in Djulfa. As I said at the time the cemetery destruction was reported, the desecration of cultural sites – especially a cemetery – is a tragedy, which we deplore, regardless of where it happens. The United States continues to call on all parties to respect such sites and collaborate on their preservation,” said Ambassador Bryza.
On his first official trip outside Baku in his current position, Ambassador Bryza sought to travel to Djulfa to investigate the cemetery where Armenian Khachkars were reportedly destroyed in 2005, an act that has prompted protests by the European Parliament, international archaeological bodies, and civil society organizations, said the embassy.
“The Caucasus is home to many cultural treasures – representing the various creeds, traditions and values of this beautiful region,” said Bryza. “I have worked actively to protect Armenian churches in Tbilisi, as well as Azerbaijani mosques in Shusha and Aghdam. Preservation of these cultural and religious monuments is of immense human importance, which transcends all political, cultural and religious differences,” he added.
During his two-day visit to Nakhichevan, Bryza met with Vaif Talibov the governor of the region to discuss democracy and human rights. During the discussion, Bryza reportedly expressed interest in visiting Djulfa to gain first-hand knowledge of the fate of the monuments, reported Azadlig radio.
“It’s unfortunate that I have not managed to visit Djulfa and see these ancient burial sites, but I expressed my desire to Talibov and, hopefully, I will be able to go there during my next trip. These monuments are of great interest. We support preservation of all monuments,” said Bryza.