Pan-Armenian Commission for the Protection of Armenian Monuments issued the following press release on 17 January 2006. I recieved it from Research on Armenian Architecture.


The present-day territory of Nakhichevan’s Autonomous Republic, Republic of Azerbaijan, comprises part of Sharur District, Ayrarat Province; Goghtn and Nakhichevan Districts, Vaspurakan Province, as well as Yernjak, Jahuk and Shahaponk, Districts, Syunik Province, Metz Hayk: in 1828 and 1840 they formed part of the Armianskaya Oblast (Armenian Province) established by Russia, being included in Yerevan Marz (Province) after that administrative unit ceased existing, between 1849 and May 1918.

In late 1919 the present-day territory of Nakhichevan’s Autonomous Republic formed part of the first Republic of Armenia.

Despite the fact that the invasions of 1918 and 1920 Azerbaijan waged against Armenia with Turkey’s complicity marked certain reduction in the number of Nakhichevan Armenians, they still constituted a considerable part of the local population between the 1920s and 1960s.

At the period between the Sovietization of the Republic of Armenia on 2 December 1920 and the conclusion of Kars Treaty on 13 October 1921, Nakhichevan Marz de jure formed part of Soviet Armenia as well. That fact is enshrined in a special declaration the authorities of Soviet Azerbaijan (the local Revolutionary Committee) made on 30 November 1920: it proclaimed both Artsakh and Nakhichevan inseparable parts of Soviet Armenia.

Violating the Armenians,’ particularly Nakhichevan Armenians’ elementary rights, in the absence of the representatives of the Republic of Armenia, on 16 March 1921 Russia and Turkey signed an illegal and invalid treaty, allegedly putting Nakhichevan Marz under the guardianship of Soviet Azerbaijan, but actually annexing it to that country as a self-governing territory.

In Kars on 13 October 1921, Turkey and the republics of Transcaucasia signed an agreement which ratified the partition of the Republic of Armenia and the annexation of Nakhichevan Marz under the pressure of Bolshevik Russia.

Following a self-willed decision made by the Soviet authorities, on 9 February 1924 the Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan declared Nakhichevan as an autonomous republic within its borders, completely ignoring at least the formal consent of the signatories to the aforementioned treaty, i.e. Georgia, Turkey, Armenia. By that invalid decision, the Soviet Union and Azerbaijan violated the unlawful clauses of the treaties concluded on 16 March and 13 October 1921, according to which Nakhichevan was not annexed to Azerbaijan as its constituent, but was merely put under its “guardianship.”

Beginning with 1921, Azerbaijan consistently implemented a policy of humiliating Nakhichevan Armenians’ national dignity and infringing upon their rights with the purpose of finally driving them away from their historical homeland: it eventually reached its goal, for between 1921 and 1989, the area was stripped of its ethnic Armenian population.

The cultural heritage the Armenians created both in Nakhichevan and other parts of their historical motherland throughout many millennia is of pan-human value and significance: it is more than 200 years since it became an object of investigation for foreign researchers as well. At present when the international community seeks prudent ways of settling Artsakh conflict, their endeavours are thwarted by Azerbaijan, which has annihilated an entire cultural legacy through its regular army units.

According to some foreign scholars' calculations, in the 17th century Jugha Cemetery retained 10,000 cross-stones dating back to the period between the 9th and 17th centuries. Later more than 7,000 khachkars fell prey to the annihilation of cultural monuments launched by Russia between 1905 and 1906 and continued by the Soviet leadership from the 1920s till the ‘70s.

Before 1998 Jugha comprised an estimated 3,000 cross-stones and several chapels, which were demolished by the Azeri troops in 1998, 2002 and 2005. In 2005 a Scottish researcher travelled in Nakhichevan, where he found out that the Armenian monuments located in the other settlements of the area (Shorot, Agulis, Kerna, Shahaponk, Aprakunis, etc.) had been subjected to the same fate of annihilation.

The Republic of Armenia should assist the appropriate international bodies, including the international institutions of the Islamic countries, in taking drastic measures against Azerbaijan, that has been destroying the Armenian monuments in Jugha, Nakhichevan, etc. for many decades now. The Armenian Government will certainly reach the desirable results if it includes the problem IN the priorities of the foreign policy of the Republic of armenia.

Under the current circumstances, only at state level is it possible to expose Azerbaijan’s criminal acts before the international community, making that country bear responsibility for the annihilation of the Armenian monuments and stop it altogether.

The protection of Nakhichevan’s monuments will also contribute to the fair settlement of Artsakh conflict, showing that peaceful negotiations cannot yield concession to a state demolishing a nation’s cultural heritage.

The Pan-Armenian Commission for the Protection of Armenian Monuments urges the Government of the Republic of Armenia:

1. To launch legal proceedings against Azerbaijan in the International Court of Justice for annihilating Nakhichevan’s mediaeval Armenian churches, tombstones and cross-stones; to force that country to deliver up the fragments of the khackars broken in Jugha and other places to the Republic of Armenia;

2. To take the necessary steps making Azerbaijan to repay for the demolished monuments and their restoration, and permit the arrival of international troops in Nakhichevan for the protection of the local monuments;

3. To take measures so that the proper international bodies will set up research groups of specialists from Armenia and other countries for the purpose of registering and measuring the Armenian monuments throughout Nakhichevan;

4. To include the international expose and denunciation of Azerbaijan in the priorities of the foreign policy of the Republic of Armenia and implement it through the Armenian embassies and other appropriate bodies;

5. The religious, cultural, socio-political and other organizations functioning in the Armenian Diaspora should focus their activity on the protection of the Armenian monuments situated outside the borders of the present-day Republic of Armenia, particularly, Nakhichevan. They should also take the necessary steps making Azerbaijan’s criminal government bear responsibility for what it has perpetrated in international bodies of justice.

17 January 2006

Pan-Armenian Commission for the Protection of Armenian Monuments