Azerbaijan Denies Yet Another European Visit to Djulfa

July 4, 2008 at 5:32 pm (Awareness, Denial, Djulfa destruction)

When, in February 2006, the European Parliament officially condemned Azerbaijan’s December 2005 deliberate destruction of the world’s largest Armenian medieval cemetery – Djulfa – the Azeri authorities denied European delegations’ visit to the site.


The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe  (PACE) delegation was already in Armenia – just miles away from Djulfa. But Azerbaijan didn’t allow them to visit the cemetery stating that the delegation must first visit Nagorno-Karabakh, the de facto Armenian republic that was placed under Azerbaijan by Stalin in the 1920s.  


The European delegation then decided to visit Nagorno-Karabakh. In fact, they planned to visit all the South Caucasus Republics – Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia to asses the situation of minority monuments.


Azerbaijan, which still claims Djulfa was never destroyed because it didn’t exist in the first place, then said that it would only agree to the visit IF the delegation visited Nagorno-Karabakh from Azerbaijan (which is impossible since Nagorno-Karabakh is in a technical war with Azerbaijan and the only real way to visit Nagorno-Karabakh is from Armenia).


In an apparent desperation in the face of Azerbaijan’s continuous tricks to keep the delegation out of Djulfa, Edward O’Hara  – head of the PACE Committee on Culture, Science and Education – has suggested to drop the idea of visiting all countries at the same time and instead start off by visiting Azerbaijan first.


According to Azerbaijan’s Trend News agency, O’Hara said on June 21, 2008 that he wants to visit Baku – Azerbaijan’s capital city – and Nakhichevan, the area where Djulfa was destroyed, as part of his first visit. Azerbaijan’s reaction is, as always, most predictable. According to Trend, an Azeri official, says that “We can agree to [visiting Azerbaijan first], but only if the rapporteur [O’Hara] visits Nagorno-Karabakh and its nearby regions occupied by Armenia beginning from Azerbaijan. We want him to see the Azerbaijani monuments destroyed by Armenians in the occupied territories.”


The Azeri official, in his own words, “informed the rapporteur that Nakhchivan does not have any ancient Armenian moment.”


And that is exactly why O’Hara wants to visit Nakhichevan – a region where thousands of indigenous Armenian monuments were surveyed just two decades ago – and find out why there aren’t any ancient Armenian monuments.



  1. Paul said,

    I once called the Azeri embassy as an American interested in the status of historical treasures and grilled them on Julfa. The conversation went in circles as he first denied anything happened to then claiming if I was interested I should instead check out all the Azeri sites Armenians destroy to finally admitting that maybe something did happen at Julfa but Armenians are the real cultural destroyers anyway and that they’d be happy to give me more information on that. I said I value the cultural sites of all cultures and that they weren’t getting off the hook that easily. They said they’d forward me information and finally did, detailing all about alleged Armenian destruction and nothing on Julfa. If anything interesting came out of that call it was the point where the official admitted that something happened, didn’t go into details but the mask slipped and it was clear he knew more than he let on. They all know what happened and what they did, it was his government which ordered it after all. They justify it through pointing to Karabakh, terribly frusterating call.

  2. Nova Scotia Scott » Blog Archive » Destruction of Armenian cemetery commemorated said,

    […] is guilty of destroying Armenian khachkars at Djulfa. Azerbaijan has persistently refused to grant official visitors access to the cemetery site. For more reactions to the commemoration, visit Global Voices Online. […]

  3. Jacob said,

    The strangest thing about the Azeri authorities position is that they keep contradicting themselves again and again. On one hand they and their historians claim that this was not an Armenian cemetery. On the other hand, they demanding that the European commission visits Armenia and NKR first. If the cemetery was not Armenian, as they claim, then why do they demand that the European commission visits Armenia first? It seems like by demanding the visit of European commission first visits Armenia and NKR they are implicitly acknowledging that the destroyed cemetery was Armenian.

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