Azerbaijan's national statement was presented at the 214th session of the UNESCO Executive Board
Within the framework of the 214th session of the UNESCO Executive Board, the Permanent Delegate of Azerbaijan to this Organization Elman Abdullayev presented the national statement of the Republic of Azerbaijan elected to this important body of UNESCO with the broad support of the Member States.
The National Statement of the Republic of Azerbaijan is presented below:
Madame Chairperson of the Executive Board
Mr. President of the General Conference
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is great honor for me to address the Executive Board on behalf of the Republic of Azerbaijan which has been elected to this important body thanks to the wide support of the Member States. Our election to the Board is a sign of our strong commitment to the values and principles of our organization.
This Executive Board meeting is taking place in turbulent times for the international community, amidst the serious deterioration of the situation in and around Ukraine.
Azerbaijan deeply regrets that efforts towards peaceful resolution have not yet yielded a result that would stop fighting. It is particularly concerning to observe increased number of civilian casualties. We once again underline the necessity of strict respect for the international humanitarian law to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, including, cultural heritage and educational institutions.
Azerbaijan had been subject to armed aggression by Armenia for almost 30 years accompanied by serious war crimes and crimes against humanity, including blatant violations of international law related to the protection of cultural heritage in the event of armed conflict.
Once a quite prosperous areas of Azerbaijan with its rich cultural and natural heritage has been razed to the ground. Throughout these years, the Government of Armenia had pursued systematic policy to destroy, pillage and misappropriate Azerbaijan’s cultural heritage both in the territories it had occupied for 30 years and in Armenia per se.
During the withdrawal of Armenian Armed Forces the bells, crosses, the famous frescos and ancient manuscripts of 13th century Khudavang monastery and precious artefacts from Azykh Caves and at the Shahbulag fortress were illegally transported to Armenia. Furthermore, 160 valuable carpets have been illegally removed from the Shusha Carpet Museum and 71 of them have been exhibited at the museum in the capital city Yerevan. We have reflected all abovementioned in our national and voluntary reports submitted to the Second Protocol Committee.
Massive and indiscriminate contamination by Armenia of the liberated territories of Azerbaijan with land mines and other explosives continue to pose serious threat to cultural heritage in those territories, impede the restoration works, delays the return of civilians. As a result of mine explosions many civilians, including journalists have been killed and wounded. I take this opportunity to thank Director-General for her statement condemning the deaths of Azerbaijani journalists Siraj Abishov and Maharram Ibrahimov on 4 June 2021 in Kalbajar district of Azerbaijan, they were killed as a result of mine explosion.
With the end of the armed conflict Azerbaijan has now entered into the stage of post-conflict rehabilitation, reconstruction and reintegration. Azerbaijan declared its determination that all cultural and religious monuments in the liberated territories irrespective of their origin will be duly preserved, restored and put into ореrаtiоn.
Azerbaijan continues its cooperation with international community, including relevant UN specialized agencies and institutions with regard to ongoing wide-range rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts in the liberated territories. Azerbaijan is also looking forward to contribution of UNESCO and expects the Organization to follow the suit of other relevant UN agencies and institutions.
I take this opportunity to recall once again that the Government of Azerbaijan is interested in hosting an independent and impartial technical mission by UNESCO to assess the state of the cultural property located in the Republic of Azerbaijan. The Government of Azerbaijan is ready to proceed without further delay and hopes there will be no further obstacles due to any additional conditions. In this context, we highlight the necessity for the Organization to expedite its response to Azerbaijan’s proposals, submitted over seven months ago, exactly on 19 August 2021.
It is our principled position that such a mission by UNESCO should take place in full compliance with the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan as the Member-State hosting the mission. In addition to dispatching UNESCO mission to the liberated territories of Azerbaijan, the Organization’s engagement in assessing the state of Azerbaijani cultural heritage in the territory of Armenia is also of urgent necessity. Civil society, NGO representatives and different organizations have requested UNESCO to send a mission to Armenia in order to document this wide-scale destruction.
The agenda of this session is heavy and consists of important items. Azerbaijan is ready to effectively contribute to the work of the session. Azerbaijan appreciates that UNESCO strengthened its SDG 4 leadership role by supporting and assisting the countries through the Global Education Coalition which we have proudly joined.
Azerbaijan welcomes the particular attention paid to gender equality in the face of the pandemic, through the Gender Flagship of the GEC, in particular the “Keeping Girls in the Picture” campaign.
Azerbaijan welcomes the process towards a revised UNESCO Framework for Culture and Arts Education and appreciates an intersectoral initiative designed to help accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Many of you are aware of Azerbaijan’s longstanding partnership with Africa. With this regard, Azerbaijan supports UNESCO’s Global Priority Africa and calls to pay special attention to the needs of the Small Island Developing States.
Climate change as one of the major global challenges continues to pose a threat to the World Heritage sites. Azerbaijan with deep interest participated in the first meeting of the working group and we have financially contributed to World Heritage Center to conduct the meeting of the working group.
Azerbaijan actively supports the initiatives undertaken by UNESCO in the field of Intercultural Dialogue, in particular, the UNESCO e-Platform on the Intercultural Dialogue launched in 2018. The platform has been developed with financial support received from the Government of Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan supports the engagement and active role of youth in the decision-making process. In this regard, we welcome the UNESCO 12th Youth Forum dedicated to preparation of Action Plan for the post-COVID period.
Taking into consideration the growing importance of NAM in international affairs, Azerbaijan, during its membership to the UNESCO Executive Board, will endeavor to strengthen the existing coordination mechanism of NAM Member States within the Board.
This year in June we will celebrate the 30th anniversary of Azerbaijan’s membership to UNESCO. In this short period of time Azerbaijan is honored to serve as a member of UNESCO Executive Board for the second time.
As a responsible Member of UNESCO, Azerbaijan remains committed to supporting the Organization’s noble mission in different parts of the world and will continue to be its strong partner in the promotion of our values and principles.
Thank you for your attention.