Shushi Named Cultural Capital of the Islamic World for 2024
During the 12th Conference of Ministers of Culture of the Islamic World in Doha, Azerbaijan's Minister of Culture, Adil Karimli, nominated Shushi (referred to as Shusha on Azerbaijani websites) as a candidate city for the title of 2024 Islamic Cultural Capital by ICESCO (ICESCO (https://icesco.org/en/)(https://apa.az/en/culture-policy/shusha-declared-cultural-capital-of-islamic-world-for-2024-412662).
It is stated in the statement: "The city of Shusha was not only an important center of Azerbaijan's historical, cultural, social, and political life but also a symbol of Islamic civilization.2022 has been designated as the 'Year of Shusha City' in Azerbaijan. The country hosted music festivals, poetry days, and numerous local and international cultural events to promote the renaissance of Shusha's cultural life. In 2022, the city of Shusha was declared the "Cultural Capital of the Turkic World" by the International Organization of Turkish Culture” (TURKSOY (https://www.turksoy.org/ru)).
In 2024, Shushi was unanimously designated as the Cultural Capital of the Islamic World by the conference participants.
Since its inception, Shushi has been a city that has been home to not only Muslims but also Armenian Christians, serving as one of the most renowned centers of Armenian civilization from the 18th to the 20th centuries. The declaration of the city as the cultural capital of the Islamic world blatantly contradicts the core principles of the city's historical significance, its authenticity, and its integrity. These principles are derived from the 1994 NARA Document on the Authenticity of Cultural Heritage (https://www.icomos.org/charters/nara-e.pdf), the document adopted by ICOMOS in New Delhi in 2017( http://www.icomos-isc20c.org/pdf/madrid-new-delhi-document-2017.pdf ), as well as from documents issued by UNESCO and other international organizations.
The declaration of the city as the cultural capital of the Islamic world blatantly contradicts the core principles of the city's historical significance, its authenticity, and its integrity. These principles are derived from the 1994 NARA Document on the Authenticity of Cultural Heritage, the document adopted by ICOMOS in New Delhi in 2017, as well as from documents issued by UNESCO and other international organizations.
To safeguard the identity of Shushi and its cultural urban environment, it is important to invoke the "European Convention on the Protection of Landscape" established in Florence in 2000. This convention emphasizes the preservation of urban settlements in their entirety, encompassing both the natural landscape and the unique characteristics that define it, while recognizing the value of heritage resulting from human activity. According to the same convention, it is expected that Azerbaijan commits to recognizing the natural landscapes of the city of Shushi as integral elements of the Artsakh Armenians' habitat. These landscapes are seen as expressions of their cultural and natural heritage, forming the foundation of their identity, as stipulated in Article 5 of the European Convention on Landscape. Any action that denies this reality would severely jeopardize the cultural heritage of the city of Shushi, as well as the preservation of its natural tangible and intangible heritage.
Associating the city of Shushi exclusively with the Muslim world disregards the cultural rights of the Artsakh Armenian community. This community possesses the fundamental right to both life and the safeguarding of the heritage that has been nurtured through their creative endeavors, which may encompass the intangible realm, such as traditions, ideas, beliefs, and cultural memory. These rights are firmly established within the norms of International Humanitarian Law (https://www.icrc.org/en/doc/assets/files/other/customary-international-humanitarian-law-i-icrc-eng.pdf).