The EU will continue to insist with Azerbaijan and Armenia on the need to fully protect all religious and cultural heritage of Nagorno-Karabakh, EU Vice-President for Values and Transparency, Věra Jourová, said today, delivering a speech on behalf of EU High Representative Josep Borrell at the European Parliament.
“Key to this will be to allow for an international assessment mission to take place, to continue engaging on concrete steps to overcome conflict, to cooperate on core issues and build an atmosphere of trust,” said Jourová.
The issue of cultural and religious heritage in the region has been contested and sensitive since at least the beginning of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. The war in 2020 has further aggravated this situation, reminded Jourová: “Through public statements and direct discussions with the sides we have repeatedly called for the protection of all religious and cultural heritage in the region, particularly heritage sites affected by conflict, without any differentiation based on ethnic or religious grounds. Any attempts to destroy or desecrate heritage sites before, during and after the hostilities, or attempts to alter their identity, will be met with the strong condemnation of the European Union.”
Jourová added it was important to have an objective and inclusive international assessment of all religious and cultural heritage affected, or potentially affected, by the conflict. For this reason, the EU supports the initiative of a UNESCO technical assessment mission to visit the area, and has asked the sides to allow for such a visit to take place and to fully cooperate with it.
“Steps taken towards such a mission would also contribute to building confidence between the sides, something the EU has been working towards, particularly with the engagement of the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, who visited both Armenia and Azerbaijan last year, held frequent phone calls with the leaders, and brought them together for two trilateral meetings,” said Jourová.
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