December 9, 2020 – 16:08 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net – The Vatican has expressed readiness to assist in preserving the Armenian heritage in Nagorno-Karabakh and areas that have gone under Azerbaijan’s control.
The Holy See’s Apostolic Nuncio to Armenia and Georgia José Avelino Bettencourt visited Armenian President Armen Sarkissian on Wednesday, December 9 to discuss the ways to deepen cooperation between the Holy See of Armenia, based on historical ties and cultural and spiritual heritage in general. The Apostolic Nuncio said Pope Frances “has special relations with Armenia and Armenians”.
During the meeting in Yerevan, the two exchanged views on the situation in Armenia and Artsakh after the war, as well as the preservation of Armenian historical and cultural heritage, and a number of humanitarian issues. On behalf of the Vatican, Bettencourt express readiness to assist in the preservation of heritage sites.
During the recent military hostilities, Azerbaijani forces launched two targeted attacks on the Holy Savior Ghazanchetsots Cathedral in Shushi. After taking control of the city, they destroyed the domes of Saint John the Baptist Church.
Concerns about the preservation of cultural sites in Nagorno-Karabakh are made all the more urgent by the Azerbaijani government’s history of systemically destroying indigenous Armenian heritage—acts of both warfare and historical revisionism. The Azerbaijani government has secretly destroyed a striking number of cultural and religious artifacts in the late 20th century. Within Nakhichevan alone, a historically Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan, Azerbaijani forces destroyed at least 89 medieval churches, 5,840 khachkars (Armenian cross stones) and 22,000 historical tombstones between 1997 and 2006.