The “Greater and Lesser Syunik” memorial on the border of Syunik and Artsakh came under the control of Azerbaijan, appearing under threat of destruction

After the closure of the former route of the Lachin corridor by Azerbaijan on March 29, 2023, already in early April, the western part of the new route (passing through the villages of Kornidzor and Tekh) was fully put into operation. As a result, along with the villages of Zabuh and Jagazur (Dzagadzor) of the Syunik province, a monument called "Greater and Lesser Syunik", or "Motherland" erected on the border of Syunik and Artsakh, passed under the control of Azerbaijan.

The monument was built in 2004 by the architect Sevada Zakaryan, on the initiative of the former governor of Syunik Suren Khachatryan and with the funding of Maxim Hakobyan, chairman of the board of directors of the Zangezur Copper Molybdenum Combine (Fig. 1, 2, ). The idea of ​​the monument was the unity of Greater and Lesser Syunik (historically, Artsakh was called Lesser Syunik).

In 2007, a khackar was erected next to the memorial, indicating the entrance to the Republic of Artsakh. Earlier, the architect of the monument shared his concerns with the editorial office of the “Syunyats Yerkir” newspaper and noted that the complete dismantling of the monument and its transfer to Syunik is impossible, since the stones will become unusable, which will not allow the memorial to be restored to its original form. It is possible to move only the khachkar installed next to it (Fig. 3, ).

The Armenian side moved the khachkar on April 3, 2023, and this can be considered an exception when a monument is removed from its historical landscape, separated from its integrity for the sake of salvation. Azerbaijani telegram channels are already screaming about the imminent demolition and destruction of the monument ( , ).

Our response

The 1954 Hague Convention, which is also the basis of other international treaties, defines in its first article that cultural property “irrespective of origin or ownership, movable or immovable property of great importance to the cultural heritage of every people.”

According to Article 4 of the 1954 The 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, any act of vandalism, theft, robbery, misappropriation, hostilities towards the cultural heritage is prohibited.

Since the “Motherland” monument now came under the control of Azerbaijan, it appeared under the protection of the First Protocol to the 1954 Hague Convention, which was adopted to protect cultural or spiritual values ​​in the occupied (appropriated) territories. The first paragraph of the Protocol states that “Each High Contracting Party undertakes to prevent the exportation from a territory occupied by it during an armed conflict” ( ).

It should be noted that Azerbaijan has adopted this protocol since September 20, 1993 and undertakes to follow its provisions ( ). However, as it is confirmed by this and many previous cases, Azerbaijan is unequivocally carrying out cultural genocide, violating its obligations under international conventions.