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with request for inclusion in the agenda for the debate on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law
pursuant to Rule 115 of the Rules of Procedure
by Frédérique Ries, Thierry Cornillet and Bernard Lehideux,
on behalf of the ALDE Group
on the destruction of cultural heritage in Azerbaijan

Procedure : 2006/2527(RSP)
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European Parliament resolution on the destruction of cultural heritage in Azerbaijan

The European Parliament,

  • -having regard to its resolutions of 9 June 2005 and 27 October 2005 on Azerbaijan[1],
  • -having regard to its resolution of 18 January 2005 on the European Neighbourhood[2] policy,
  • -having regard to its previous resolutions on South Caucasus and especially its resolution adopted on 11 March 1999[3] and its recommendation adopted on 26 February 2004[4],
  • -having regard to the decision taken by the Council on the 14 June 2004 to include Azerbaijan in the framework of the European Neighbourhood policy, in particular for the purpose of fostering good-neighbourly relations, especially through respect for minorities,
  • -having regard to the obligations of Azerbaijan to the Council of Europe, especially through the European Cultural Convention, the revised European Convention for the protection of archeological heritage, and the Framework Convention for the protection of national minorities, that it has ratified and committed to respect,
  • -having regard to the UNESCO Convention for World Heritage and the protocol to the 1954 Hague Convention on the protection of cultural assets during armed conflict,
  • -having regard to the report of ICOMOS[5] and the intermediary report on freedom of worship and religion made by the UN Committee for Human Rights[6],
  • -having regard to Rule 115(5) of its Rules of Procedure,
    • A.whereas former campaigns of destruction of the Armenian necropolis of Djulfa, in the region of Nakhitchevan, were led in November 1998 and December 2002,
    • B.whereas numerous reactions and condemnations were issued following these actions by the international community, and especially by UNESCO; whereas Azerbaijan has been unwilling to provide answers to inquiries from Mr Abdelfattah Amor, the special rapporteur of the United Nations,
    • C.taking note that the role of the Azerbaijani authorities has been undeniable, in light of the logistical facilities used and hundreds of soldiers employed to destroy these monuments,
    • D.underlining that Azerbaijan performed these destructions in a conflict-free area; recalling however that these operations took place in a context of hostility toward Armenia and Armenians because of the frozen conflict of Nagorno-Karabakh,
    • E.underlining the exceptional nature of this archeological site, which still had 6000 “khatchkars” remaining – crosses carved in stone typical from the Armenian religious art – and which testifies to the ethnic and cultural diversity of the region,
    • F.recalling that the ENP aims to establish a privileged partnership with Azerbaijan on the basis of common values, including respect of minorities and their cultural heritage,
  • 1.Condemns the most recent destructions planned and performed in December 2005 by Azerbaijan, an action that led to the final demolition of the Armenian archaeological site of Djulfa;
  • 2.Considers that this action worsens the already poor records by the Azerbaijani government, as mentioned in Parliament's previous resolutions on Azerbaijani government's discriminatory policy toward minorities and on its restrictions on the exercise of individual liberties;
  • 3.Considers that this action casts doubt on the commitment of Azerbaijani authorities to integrate their minorities and to respect their rights;
  • 4.Demands that Azerbaijan respect its international commitments - notably in the cultural realm - and especially those deriving from its accession to the Council of Europe and its integration into the ENP;
  • 5.Demands that Azerbaijan allows missions dedicated to survey and protect the archeological heritage on its territory, especially Armenian heritage;
  • 6.Asks the presidency of the Union to investigate the circumstances and decisions which led to these destructions in order provide a detailed proposal on the prevention of destruction of other endangered sites;
  • 7.Invites the Commission and the Council to condition the implementation of the ENP action plan on Azerbaijan's respect for European principles regarding human and minority rights, and calls on the Commission and on the Council to integrate into this action plan specific provisions on the protection of the cultural heritage of minorities;
  • 8.Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, to the Commission, to the parliaments and governments of the Member States, to the government and to the president of the Republic of Azerbaijan, as well as to the parliamentary assemblies of OSCE and of the Council of Europe, to the Director-General of UNESCO and to the Secretary General of the United Nations.