The Ararat Alliance has petitioned the UN Secretary-General to help Armenian refugees return to Karabakh, suggested a unique project benefitting both Azerbaijan and Armenia: International Inter-Faith Peace Park

YEREVAN, ARMENIA, February 20, 2024 /24-7PressRelease/ — The Ararat Alliance Forum drew attention of Antonio Guterres to the situation in the South Caucasus after the forced eviction of the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) on an ethnic basis and the critical threat looming over objects of its cultural and historical heritage. There are more than 500 ancient Armenian Christian ( architectural monuments in Nagorno-Karabakh.

In 2020 the large part of Nagorno-Karabakh came under control of Azerbaijan and the reports of Armenian churches being vandalized started to draw international attention.

In response, The International Court of Justice has ruled on 07 December, 2021 ( that Azerbaijan must “take all necessary measures to prevent and punish acts of vandalism and desecration affecting Armenian cultural heritage, including but not limited to churches and other places of worship, monuments, landmarks, cemeteries and artefacts.”

However, the reports of vandalism continued and in September 2023, after a ten-month blockade, about 120,000 Armenians, almost entire Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh, fled from the advancing Azerbaijan’s military into the neighboring Armenia, with the rest of Christian monuments of Nagorno-Karabakh coming under the control of Azerbaijan.

“A clear illustration of how Baku deals with the cultural heritage of the Armenian people after their expulsion from its historical lands is the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic, part of Azerbaijan, where by 2007 the destruction of the cultural and historical trace was finally completed and not only a single representative of the Armenian people remained, which 30 years ago made up to 75% of the population, but also Armenian temples, museums, necropolises and cemeteries,” states the Ararat Alliance.

On 17 November 2023 the International Court of Justice ruled ( that Azerbaijan must enable anyone who wanted to return to Nagorno-Karabakh to do so in a “safe, unimpeded and expeditious manner”.

None of the Armenian refugees has returned to their homes so far, fearing Azerbaijan’s reprisals. Azerbaijan’s authorities created a working group for “restoration of Albanian religious temples” called to change the identity of the Armenian religious, historical and cultural monuments of Nagorno-Karabakh. In practice, Azerbaijan removes crosses from the domes of Armenian churches and erases ancient Armenian inscriptions carved on the walls of churches in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Ararat Alliance asserts that these are acts of state vandalism, similar to the barbaric actions of the Taliban against ancient Buddhist monuments in Afghanistan, and similar to the crimes of ISIS against the ancient churches of Syria and Iraq.

Pope Francis called on 15.10.2023 ( for the protection and respect of monasteries and places of religious worship in Nagorno-Karabakh. “My concern about the crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh has not abated”, stated the Pope. “In addition to the dire humanitarian situation of refugees, I would like to make a special appeal for the protection of monasteries and places of worship in this region.”

On January 8, 2024 the US State Department added Azerbaijan to the US List of Religious Freedom Offenders citing its treatment of Christians, Muslims, and ethnic Armenians displaced from the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave.

On February 07, 2024 the Ararat Alliance Forum sent an appeal to Audrey Azoulay, Director General of UNESCO
( calling upon UNESCO to send a long-term UNESCO mission to Nagorno-Karabakh and include in the World Heritage List of UNESCO all historical Christian monuments of Nagorno-Karabakh.

This week the Ararat Alliance petitioned the UN Secretary-General to provide the auspices of the UN to the project of creating an INTERNATIONAL INTER-RELIGIOUS PEACE PARK IN NAGORNO-KARABAKH.

Parameters of the Project include Azerbaijan retaining its sovereignty over the territory of Karabakh: administrative, economic and political management; the Armenian indigenous population of Karabakh returning to their homes and an international armed contingent of Russia, the USA and France ensuring their security; UNESCO taking control of all historical cultural sites of Karabakh; Azerbaijan, Armenia, UNESCO and NGOs developing an interreligious tourism program to Nagorno-Karabakh: building there, in addition to ancient churches, mosques, synagogues and Buddhist temples to transform Nagorno-Karabakh into a unique Interreligious Park that will become a world cultural heritage.

“This Project will benefit all parties”, says the petition. “Azerbaijan, while maintaining its administrative power, will demonstrate to the whole world its respect for international law, for the rights of peaceful Armenians and for their cultural and spiritual heritage; Armenian refugees from Karabakh, who will return to their homeland, will not keep resentment towards the people of Azerbaijan for generations and there will be no danger of the resumed conflict; the international community will be inspired by the example of Azerbaijan and Armenia seeing how Hostility and Destruction can be transformed into Cooperation and Beauty.”

In conclusion, the Ararat Alliance asked the UN Secretary-General to support this Project, convene a round table at the UN to discuss it and inform about it President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev.

THE ARARAT ALLIANCE FORUM ( is an Armenian NGO conducting historical, economic, strategic and cultural studies to help advance democratic development and strengthen national security of Armenia. The First Ararat Alliance Forum was held in June 2022 in Yerevan.

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