State Department Places Azerbaijan on “Special Watch List”; Calls for Funding for USAID for Restoration and Protection of Artsakh Sites
The United State has faulted Azerbaijan for destroying Armenian religious and cultural landmarks in Nagorno-Karabakh, with the State Department placing Azerbaijan on a “Special Watch List.”
These details were outlined in the State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report 2022, which was released recently. The report calls on the U.S. government to fund the United Stated Agency for International Development for restoration and protection efforts of the sites in Artsakh.
“International structures and other organizations continue to question the willingness of the government of Azerbaijan to protect and preserve the religious and cultural heritage in Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding territories under Azerbaijani control,” said the report.
“In February, the former Minister of Culture Anar Kərimov announced the creation of a working group, the purpose of which was to remove Armenian Apostolic inscriptions from churches, which he called ‘unreal.’ With most probability, the government abandoned the plan after the international community’s outrage, and in March the European Parliament condemned Azerbaijan’s continuous policy of erasing and denying the Armenian cultural heritage in and around Nagorno-Karabakh,” the report added.
The U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedoms, which prepares the annual report, recommended that the US government “provide funding to the US Agency for International Development and the US Embassy in Baku for the restoration, preservation, and protection of places of worship and other religious or cultural sites in Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas.”