By Vafa Ismayilova
Presidential aide Hikmat Hajiyev has said that Armenia has no moral rights to put any claims against Azerbaijan after its inconceivable vandalism against the latter's heritage and property.
Hajiyev made the remarks, while commenting on the March 25 BBC News report on the alleged "disappearance of an Armenian church" in the Azerbaijani town of Jabrayil.
"Armenia even doesn't have moral rights to put any claims against Azerbaijan after committing inconceivable vandalism/urbucide/ecocide in seized lands against heritage and property of Azerbaijani people. Armenia like occupying powers of WWII must apologize to Azerbaijani people and assume responsibility," Hajiyev wrote on his official Twitter account on March 26.
He also tweeted that "in 2017 upon appeal of Azerbaijan OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs visited illegal chapel built in Jabrayil. They concluded that this is chapel built in military compound for service of soldiers. Any attempts to change religious and cultural nature pf seized lands illegal".
Hajiyev added that "in 2017 as MFA Spokesperson I made statement on illegal construction of military chapel in occupied jabrayil where never Armenians lived. I said: Building chapel while vandalizing everything related with Azerbaijan is contrary to basic principles of Christianity".
In his separate February 7 tweet, that he retweeted on March 26, he said: "Panoramic view of completely destroyed Jabrayil city of Azerbaijan. Graves were vandalized and even bones were taken out during 30 yyears of occupation. How Armenia dares to speak about civilization or cultural values after such barbaric behaviour."
The presidential aide posted the video from the scene in Jabrayil.
Furthermore, Hajiyev noted that Azerbaijani NGOs turned to international community over Armenia's ongoing mine terror against Azerbaijan.
"NGOs of Azerbaijan have appealed to international community. Mine terror of Armenia continues against Azerbaijani civilians. As a result of Armenia's 30 years-long occupation liberated lands of Azerbaijan [are] among mostly contaminated zones worldwide with mines," he said.
Unfounded Armenian claims
It should be noted that the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry dismissed as unfounded Armenia's claims about "cultural crimes" on liberated territories.
"We take such allegations seriously, but strongly refute claims by the Armenian National Commission for UNESCO that any ‘cultural crime’ was committed. The Republic of Azerbaijan has repeatedly affirmed its commitment to protecting culture and religious diversity, and it remains unchanged," the ministry said.
It added that the alleged "disappearance" must be put in context.
"The chapel in question was unlawfully constructed during Armenia’s nearly thirty-year occupation of land that is internationally recognized as Azerbaijan, and that was solely populated by ethnic Azerbaijanis prior to the unlawful occupation in 1993. The chapel was constructed during a period when Armenia was destroying the homes and cultural heritage of Azerbaijanis that had lived in Jabrayil and other occupied regions of Azerbaijan for generations," the ministry said.
The Foreign Ministry stressed that in 2017, following Azerbaijan’s appeals to the OSCE, Co-Chairs from the OSCE Minsk Group agreed to visit the chapel in Jabrayil.
"The Republic of Azerbaijan raised grave concerns that the Armenian forces were altering the demographic, cultural and physical character of the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. Following their visit, the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs concluded that the chapel had been built as part of a military compound in Jabrayil for use by Armenian soldiers. The chapel cannot be considered a part of Jabrayil’s cultural history when its construction, reportedly only five years ago, solely served the occupying forces of Armenia," the statement said.
Armenia's deliberate policy of destruction
The ministry stressed that broad coverage of total demolition of the once occupied territories of Azerbaijan by international media, which were labeled as "Ghost town" or "Hiroshima of Caucasus" clearly demonstrated the vandalism of Armenia and deliberate policy of destruction of Azerbaijan's historical, cultural and religious heritage supported at the state level.
"The country that deliberately targeted the Azerbaijani heritage, conducted cultural cleansing and numerous war crimes in the once occupied territories, including the destruction of 927 libraries, more than 60 mosques, 44 temples, 473 historical sites, palaces and museums has neither legal nor moral right to accuse Azerbaijan," the ministry said.
It underlined that Armenia during its decades of a continuing policy of occupation did not allow international missions to visit the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.
"This fact is even clearly reflected in the UNESCO Activities Report published in 2005. The report stated that the government of Azerbaijan expressed concern about the protection of cultural heritage in Nagorno-Karabakh and other occupied territories and requested the dispatch of a fact-finding mission to these territories, however, this mission was prevented due to the occupation of these territories by the Armenian military forces," the statement added.
The ministry said that Azerbaijan is the most interested side in the conduct of independent and comprehensive international mission to the liberated territories, so the devastations in these areas are well documented.
"Constructive dialogue is underway on this regard with UNESCO and we hope the mission will take place soon. The Republic of Azerbaijan remains committed to its international obligation to protect and uphold historical cultural and religious heritage in the liberated territories," the ministry said.
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