By Sara Rajabova
Armenia has not only invaded Azerbaijan's territories, but also attempted to grab its glorious history, culture, cuisine and traditions.
Over the last twenty years of occupation of Azerbaijani lands, Armenians have rewritten the history and manipulated the facts about the monuments, especially those belonging to ancient Albans.
They have also deliberately destroyed the unique historical and cultural monuments of Azerbaijan in these territories.
The Armenians claim that ancient Caucasian Albania in the historical territories of Azerbaijan belongs to them.
Director of the Institute on Conflict Resolution and Human Rights of Azerbaijani National Academy of Sciences (ANAS), MP Ayten Mustafayeva said, as a result of Armenian occupation, the cultural and historical heritage of Azerbaijan has been profoundly damaged.
She made the remarks at a conference titled "Historical and cultural heritage of the Caucasian Albania in the context of human rights" in Baku on June 10.
Mustafayeva said Albania is one of the oldest states in the territory of Azerbaijan.
The history of Caucasian Albania stretches from the IV-III century BC to an attack by the Arab Caliphate in the VIII century AD. The capital of this state was first Gabala, and then the capital was moved to Barda, the territory of present Nagorno-Karabakh.
Caucasian Albania was a multinational and tolerant country.
Historical facts and results of studies proved that Azerbaijan is an heir of Caucasian Albania. Udins, Avars, Khinaligs and the other nations living today in Azerbaijan are descendants of Albans. Albanian churches, temples and places of worship differ from other Christian monuments.
Mustafayeva said Armenian nationalists are trying to show all Albanian monuments in the occupied territories as their own.
She emphasized that the alien people - Armenians - have no relation with the ancient culture of Albania.
Mustafayeva further said a national program aimed at protecting human rights and freedoms will help to reimburse the damages caused by the occupation of Azerbaijan.
Head of the political studies and analysis department of the socio-political board of the Presidential Administration Fuad Akhundov, in turn, said Azerbaijan will save the Armenian people from the lies, imposed upon them by the regime in Yerevan.
Akhundov said Armenian authorities have given inadequate responses to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev's statements that modern Armenian state is establishment on the ancestral Azerbaijani lands, such as Yerevan, Goycha, Zangezur.
He further noted that one of the crimes of the Armenian regime is an attempt to keep its people in ignorance by spreading lies about their history.
"It have come to this conclusion that even foreign scholars of Armenian origin usually complain that officials in Yerevan don't allow them to explore their own history," Akhundov said.
Akhundov stressed that the two volumes of his book "The Destroyers of Fraud" have been already published and his work is underway on the third volume. Also, a documentary film is being shot on this topic.
He noted that on May 28, the Republic Day of Azerbaijan, two films against Azerbaijan were shown in Armenia, adding this was a kind of attempt to respond to the statements of the Azerbaijani President that Armenia was created on the ancient Azerbaijani lands.
Akhundov said this is only one of the many facts of Armenian falsifications.
He considered that with such policies, Armenian government is trying to erase any traces of Azerbaijani civilization on all lands later settled by Armenians.
Akhundov said the Albanian Christian monuments on the territory of Armenia and occupied Azerbaijani lands are experiencing the same fate.
Addressing the event, Azerbaijani Minister Culture and Tourism Abulfas Garayev said the history of the Caucasian Albania is a part of Azerbaijan's history.
On the allegations that the historical monuments of the Caucasian Albania and its churches belong to a different culture, Garayev noted that the culture of the Caucasian Albania is inseparable from Azerbaijan's culture.
Garayev said Azerbaijan won't allow anyone to appropriate its history and uphold its position in international organizations.
"Azerbaijani government has always paid great attentions to its culture and history. A detailed study of Azerbaijan's history under the title 'Azerbaijan 2020: vision for the future' concept is our duty," Garayev said.
He underscored that the historical heritage of the Caucasian Albania is an integral part of Azerbaijan's history and therefore it is important to study the historical processes of that period of time.
Furthermore, First Secretary of the National Commission of UNESCO on Azerbaijan Gunay Efendiyeva stressed that Armenians do not allow sending a technical mission of UNESCO to the occupied territories. She said they do so to hide their acts of falsification of history.
Efendiyeva said the topic of Caucasian Albania is very important for the UNESCO in terms of scientific and cultural point of views.
She said Azerbaijan attaches great importance to the protection of cultural heritage and values.
Efendiyeva voiced regret that Azerbaijan cannot protect its monuments located in the occupied territories.
She reminded that however, the Armenian Church in the center of Baku is protected as a religious and historical monument.
Efendiyeva expressed hope that, along with the four monuments included in the list, other places like the church in Kish, Javanshir Tower, Chiraggala and Gandzasar monastery, in Azerbaijan's occupied Kalbajar region would also be included in the list.
Azerbaijan and Armenia fought a lengthy war that ended with the signing of a precarious cease-fire in 1994. Since then, Armenian armed forces have occupied over 20 percent of Azerbaijan's internationally recognized territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh, defying international calls and UN resolutions.
After invading Azerbaijan's territories, Armenia has been pursuing the campaign of ruining cultural and historical monuments of Azerbaijani people. The Armenians are fabricating facts about the monuments of the ancient Caucasus Albania. A variety of ancient Albanian scripts, wall designs and crosses have been replaced by Armenian attributes. A number of mosques are used as store-houses. Buildings as well as unique exhibits of the museums located in the occupied Azerbaijani lands have been either destroyed or used as a basis for new museums, with Armenians claiming that they belong to them.
The first human dwellings like the well-known Azykh and Taghlar caves, the Garakopak and Uzarliktapa burial mounds, located in the occupied territories, are being used for military purposes. Most of them have been destroyed. Cemeteries, mausoleums, monuments, mosques, temples and monuments that once belonged to Caucasus Albania and other cultural heritage sites in the occupied regions of Shusha, Lachin, Kalbajar, Gubadli, Zangilan, and Fuzuli have been destroyed along with burial mounds in Khojaly, Aghdam, Aghdara, Fuzuli and Jabrayil.
The destruction of Azerbaijani cultural monuments in the occupied territories continues to this day. The invaders are carrying out large-scale archeological excavations, destroying burial mounds. Remaining in the Azerbaijani territories occupied by Armenia -- Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding regions -- are 13 architectural and archeological monuments of global importance, 292 monuments of state importance and 330 of local importance, as well as 23 parks, and 15 decorative art samples.
Total damage inflicted to Azerbaijan amounts to $6.7 billion, according to approximate calculations based on the documents of 1994. The figure excludes items of intangible heritage, and it is impossible to determine the immense moral value of these destroyed, ancient and irreplaceable cultural monuments of the Azerbaijan people.
Preservation of historical and cultural monuments in the Armenia-occupied territory of Azerbaijan as memories of the nation's centuries-old history is a matter of international importance, because Azerbaijani people's cultural heritage is an integral part of the world culture.
The destruction and damaging of the historical and cultural monuments by the Armenian invaders in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan contradict the 1954 Hague convention on preservation of cultural values during armed conflicts, the 1992 European convention on preservation of archeological heritage, and the 1972 UNESCO convention on preservation of world cultural and natural heritage.