Armenia’s decision on December 15, 2005 to announce the savage desecration of Armenian monuments by Azeri Armed Forces in Djulfa raised “serious questions” with US officials in Armenia at the time, according to a confidential cable made public by Wikilieaks.
U.S. Charge d’Affaires in Armenia at the time, Anthony Godfrey, rushed to complain to the State Department and questioned the Armenian Foreign Ministry’s decision to reveal the desecration at a time when prospects for a breakthrough on Karabakh peace were high following a visit by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairmen to the region.
They also questioned then foreign minister Vartan Oskanian’s decision to release the information about the Azeri attacks on Djulfa monuments on the sidelines of a press conference that was to sum up the “positive” visit by the Co-chairmen.
Calling the foreign ministry’s information “third hand,” Godfrey sounded the alarm that the revelation could anger Baku.
“The first announcement [about the Djulfa incident] on December 15 came in the form of an early afternoon press release from Armenia’s Embassy in Tehran. The MFA distributed the release to journalists later the same day on the margins of Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian’s press conference summing up the December 14-15 visit of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs,” explains the cable.
“On a day filled with upbeat news about prospects for a resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the MFA’s decision to circulate third-hand reports in an official, strongly-worded press release is likely to anger nationalist elements in Armenia and spur a response from counterparts in Baku,” commented Godfrey in the confidential cable.
It took the US a full three months before responding to the destruction of historic monuments in Djulfa.
In March, 2006, Asbarez reported that then Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza responded to reporters’ questions by describing the destruction as a “tragedy,” and noting that–”it’s awful what happened in Julfa. But the United States cannot take steps to stop it as it is happening on foreign soil. We continually raise this issue at meetings with Azeri officials. We are hopeful that the guilty will justly be punished. We are hopeful that in no other state of the region such things will happen again–as there are great historic monumen’s in the Caucasus and–frankly speaking–in all three states they are endangered.”
It seems, seven years later, Godfrey’s concerns have not dissipated, because the US has yet to take decisive action on the desecration of Armenian monuments in Djulfa, Nakhichevan at the hands of the Azeri Army.
Learn more about the destruction of the 1,300-year-old historic Armenian cemetery in Djulfa, watch the independent film “The New Tears of Araxes.”