As was already reported earlier today, the First Vice-President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Mehriban Aliyeva, terminated her activity as UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and informed the UNESCO Director General, former French Culture Minister Audrey Azoulay of her decision in a letter.
According to that information, Mehriban Aliyeva explained her withdrawal from this position due to her involvement in large-scale reconstruction works in Azerbaijani territories that were liberated from Armenian occupation following the Patriotic War, as a result of which it was not possible to pay the necessary attention to the position of Goodwill Ambassador within UNESCO. Thus, the First Vice-President paid respect to diplomatic etiquette, while at the same time hinting at the “Karabakh motive” in her decision – even if only in a slightly different context.
As can be seen from the processes around UNESCO in recent years, this decision is in fact a diplomatic protest against the double-standard approach that UNESCO has adopted towards Azerbaijan, especially in recent years. Problems and unhealthy tendencies towards Azerbaijan were accumulating but not being solved, despite the active participation of Azerbaijan and Mehriban Aliyeva personally in the organization’s activities.
During her 18 years as Goodwill Ambassador, it became evident that despite the development of links between Azerbaijan and UNESCO along the ascending line, efforts to promote UNESCO values and support for the preservation of cultural heritage in a number of countries, the organization failed to respond to calls by Azerbaijan to investigate the destruction and desecration of the historical and cultural heritage of Azerbaijan as a result of Armenia’s aggression against Azerbaijan.
Despite the regular reporting by UNESCO of Armenia’s crimes in Karabakh, it has unfortunately not sent any missions to the occupied territories during the past 30 years to assess the damage to Azerbaijan’s cultural heritage.
On the contrary, as soon as Azerbaijan won the Patriotic War, UNESCO began to work hard on sending a mission to the region, based on Armenia’s claims that Azerbaijan had allegedly destroyed some “monuments of Armenian culture”. And this time, despite the fact that Azerbaijan, demonstrating goodwill, agreed to the mission, it was not realized due to the “unclarity on the ownership of the territory on which the visit was organized”.
Of course, from an international legal point of view, such a “justification” is obviously nonsense. The real reason, as we understand it, lies elsewhere – the UNESCO leadership never wanted and did not plan to include in their reports information about the 65 mosques destroyed during the years of Armenian occupation in Karabakh and East Zangezur, nor on the thousands of Azerbaijani cultural monuments destroyed by the Armenian occupiers.
Apparently, this does not correspond to the cultural paradigm in which Madame Audrey Azoulay lives, according to which Muslim Azerbaijanis are “barbarians” and Christian Armenians are their “victims”. When it became clear that the UNESCO assessment report of the mission sent to the occupied territories of Azerbaijan will be recording a diametrically opposite picture, the interest in the topic quickly vanished.
The reason for the unilateral policy against Azerbaijan, as stated among diplomatic circles, is the personal position of the current Director General of UNESCO of French ethnicity. It is worthwhile noting, that back in 2005, under Director General Koichiro Maatsur, UNESCO responded to Azerbaijan’s calls, but noted in the report of the organization that the inability to access Azerbaijani territories from Azerbaijan due to the occupation of the Armenian armed forces was the reason preventing the mission.
However, once the occupation was eliminated, UNESCO still did not have the political will to send a mission. The approach of the current head of the organization, Audrey Azoulay, is based on the clearly articulated pro-Armenian position of France, whose Senate, as Caliber.Az recalls, is currently preparing to adopt another, clearly expressed, anti-Azerbaijani resolution.
Azerbaijan’s long-term contribution to the work of UNESCO served to raise the image of the organization and increase the effectiveness of its activities – Baku adheres to this rule to at all venues where it is represented. But if our country’s national interests are systematically harmed, it would be naive to expect such steps to be left without a response.
Mehriban Aliyeva said goodbye to UNESCO – with inherent dignity and diplomatic restraint. We have no goodwill for an organization demonstrating indifference to the tragedy of the Azerbaijani people for 30 years.