Christian religious and cultural heritage endangered in Azerbaijan

Diocese of the Armenian Church of the United Kingdom and Ireland

Press release

9 February 2022

London

 

Christian religious and cultural heritage endangered in Azerbaijan

The announcement by the Minister of Culture of Azerbaijan last week about the appointment of a state-supported working group to “remove” Armenian religious and cultural traces in territories under the control of Azerbaijan is gravely concerning for Christians around the world.

For decades now, but especially since the second Karabakh war in 2020, authorities in Baku have been promoting an academically-debunked theory that modern day Azerbaijanis are the descendants of “Caucasian Albanian”. These decades-long efforts are intended to “prove” Armenians are not natives of the Caucasus and that all Armenian Christian churches and monuments are “Albanian Christian”.  This is “a popular state-sponsored conspiracy theory that reimagines indigenous Armenian monuments as appropriated from an extinct civilization.”

The minister explained that the working group will ostensibly “document the Armenian forgery and changes” and present them to the international community.”

Azerbaijani claims have been refuted by historians, art historians and specialists. As stated in a recent article, the intention of the Azerbaijani government’s “specialists committee” is “to purge traces of Armenian history in the occupied region of Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) and is “the latest in an ongoing campaign to rewrite the history of the region.”

The Mother See of Holy Etchiadzin has been vocal about the threats and unrecoverable damages being caused to Armenian Church monasteries, holy places and shrines in the territories of Artsakh.  The Armenian Church calls upon the international community to respond to the anti-Armenian policies of the Azerbaijani government.

The Armenian Church in the United Kingdom is appealing to sister Churches and ecumenical organisations to call upon the Azerbaijani government to stop their anti-Armenian policies, historical revisionism and, instead, engage into a meaningful dialogue towards peace.