“1918 was the year of birth of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the fruit of the diplomatic victory won by its “godfather” Turkey that actively contributed to its advent in the political arena.
In the early years of its founding, this state annexed vast Armenian lands, including the historical Armenian provinces of Artsakh and Utik, the Nakhijevan region, Kashatagh, Kashunik, and the Kovsarakan region of Syunik province. This happened in the vital political interests of both the Turkish authorities and the Russian Bolsheviks.
In addition, half of Azerbaijan’s territory was Proper or Bun Aghvank, an ancient area of Caucasian Albania stretching on the left bank of the Kur River and filled with Armenian monuments.
The Republic of Soviet Azerbaijan was founded in the early 1920s. Its borders with Armenia were contested during the time of the Musavatists and were established during the formation of Azerbaijan.
The cultural heritage in the historical Armenian lands annexed by Azerbaijan can be classified into two groups:
- Countless ancient monuments of material culture created by the natives of the region, including the heritage of some Albanian tribes living on the left bank of the Kur River and known as carriers of the Armenian civilization;
- Monuments built by members of various Turkic and Kurdish tribes, as well as by some Persian princes and some natives of the region that were forced to convert to Islam. The monuments of this second group, which exhibit meager variety (khans’ palaces, mosques, mausoleums, and tombstones), are incomparably smaller in number and date between the 17th and the 18th centuries.
Since the first years of its formation, the Azerbaijani authorities showed a discriminatory attitude towards the study and protection of the monuments of these two groups.
Between the 1920s and 1940s, when the entire USSR was saturated with the atheistic ideology, mosques not only were not destroyed, but many new ones were built… In contrast, dozens of medieval Armenian churches and monasteries were demolished and disappeared without a trace.
In the 1950s, when the Soviet government had already stopped the blind struggle with religious monuments, the mass destruction of Christian and ancient Armenian monuments in Azerbaijan continued under the auspices of the state.
The implementation of the state policy of destruction of Armenian monuments in Azerbaijan did not stop after the 1960s when all of a sudden, all Armenian monuments built before the 19th century, including those located in Nakhijevan on the right bank of the Kur River, were titled Albanian by some Azerbaijani historians and architects (in reality, they were following orders from the country’s authorities). Their claim was based on the fact that the lands on the left bank of the Kur River were once inhabited by the aforementioned Albanian tribes.
After the declaration of the independence of Azerbaijan (1991), the cultural genocide against the Armenian monuments located in Nakhijevan and on the right bank of the Kur River continued on a wider scale, as evidenced by available evidence, and it continues in our times.
During the liberation war of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), a large number of historical monuments in Armenia were destroyed, burned down, or blown up even where they remained under Azerbaijani occupation for only a short period of time (1991).
Notably, even those monuments that were located far away from the frontline were damaged and destroyed.
The demolition of monuments (especially religious monuments and ancient burial grounds) located on historical Armenian lands still occupied by Azerbaijan would not stop even after the armistice of May 1994. The armed forces of Azerbaijan would even directly participate in the barbaric actions.
It is obvious that the cultural genocide of historical monuments of Armenians in Azerbaijan is another example of the implementation of the same policy in Western Armenia since 1915, in Northern Cyprus since 1974, in Afghanistan (Bamyan) in 1996-2001, in Kosovo (Petrik, Suva Reka, Pudujevo, Mušutište) since 2008, in Syria (Raqqa, Palmyra, Deir ez-Zor) since 2012, and in Iraq (Mosul, Nimrud, Hatra) since then to our days.
All this testifies to the fact that the authorities of the Turkic states created in the homeland of other peoples do not differ in the least in their approaches toward the legacy of world civilization and actions against it. They aim to get rid of the cultural heritage of indigenous peoples as it reveals historical truth.”