PARIS (ArmRadio)–Foreign Minister of Armenia Vartan Oskanian addressed Wednesday the 34th session of the UNESCO General Conference in Paris where he spoke about Armenia’s commitment to prosperity, peace and international cooperation and expressed enthusiasm about UNESCO’s intention to expand its activities in Armenia.
"UNESCO’s calling card is its commitment to the World’s Cultural Heritage," said Oskanian. "Armenia attaches great importance to the organization’s efforts to develop legal instrumen’s aimed at the protection of the cultural heritage of humanity."
"We look for ways to break the barriers of the past because we remain convinced that between cultures and countries, there must be dialogue and understanding," he said.
"Armenia is a cosponsor of the Draft Resolution on the Proclamation of an international year for bringing cultures together," Oskanian said. He expressed optimism that it will "hopefully be adopted by the current session of the General Conference."
On a more somber note, however, Oskanian brought forth the very serious issue of the destruction of historical and cultural monumen’s of minorities during the Soviet period. "Monumen’s belonging to all religions, not just our ancient Christian churches and monasteries, but also mosques cannot be undone," he said.
Armenia can take pride in its commitment to preserving the cultural history of all people, Oskanian added, noting that the non-Christian Yezidi Cemetery of Riataza and the Blue Mosque of Yerevan have been preserved and protected by the Armenian Government and are currently on the waiting list for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
"Our history is indeed intertwined with the history of our neighbors, with their history. We are dismayed at attempts to ignore this history. We are appalled at attempts to undo this history, Oskanian said, referring to the ongoing destruction of Armenian historic and cultural monumen’s in present-day Turkey and Azerbaijan.
"The destruction of a people’s patrimony is tantamount to destroying their memory, their history and their identity," exclaimed Oskanian as he urged the UNESCO General Conference to send monitors to the "region, specifically to Nakhichevan, to see and appropriately judge the intentional destruction in areas far removed from war and confrontation." Peace and Prosperity is easier to attain through UNESCO because this agency’s work spreads across boarders and frontiers and encompasses the histories and memories of all people, he concluded.