The ITB Berlin, the world’s largest tourism trade fair, banned the presentation of the cultural heritage of Artsakh at the exhibition to be held on March 7-9, 2023 in Berlin

Berlin International Tourism Committee (ITB Berlin) sent a letter to the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Armenia, demanding not to use historical, cultural facts, booklets, catalogs and other materials to draw attention to the tourism of Nagorno-Karabakh at the largest international exhibition to be held on March 7-9 this year in Berlin.

It should be noted that in their letter addressed to the head of the Department of Finance and Accounting of the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Armenia Gayane Atoyan, it is noted: “If the Tourism Committee of the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Armenia participates in the ITB Berlin 2023, advertising of a political nature is strictly prohibited, even if it is presented in the form of art and culture. This means that no information materials of a political nature may be distributed in the form of posters, information materials, etc. In addition, the design of posters should not contain any political statements.”

While reading the letter, it becomes clear that the organizers of the exhibition specifically emphasize that they mean the region of Nagorno-Karabakh. In addition, in order to justify what was said, the organizers of the exhibition refer to the fact that "the occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh was condemned by four resolutions of the UN Security Council (822, 853, 874 and 884"). The letter also states that the Armenian pavilion will be under close surveillance by the organizers: “Regarding the mentioned aspects, we will watch your stand, design, as well as information materials and brochures at the ITB Berlin. The company is fully eligible to adequately respond to violations".

It should be noted that Internationale Tourismus Börse Berlin is the world's largest tourism fair, which will be held on March 8-12 this year. Every year 10,000 organizations from 180 countries of the world take part in it. This is important in order to attract new partners, search for new connections and ways of cooperation, and popularize the heritage.

Our answer

The ban on promoting the cultural heritage of Artsakh at Internationale Tourismus Börse Berlin violates the people's right to culture, enshrined in various international conventions and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It should be noted that the promotion of cultural heritage is an integral part of the overall system of heritage protection and is not separated from the concept of heritage. Any value (tangible and intangible) created thanks to the knowledge, experience and skills of Armenians of Artsakh is part of the common world heritage, as defined in a number of international conventions and agreements adopted by UNESCO.

In particular, the Convention for the Protection of the World and Natural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO in Paris in 1972, states that the cultural heritage of each people contributes to the world's cultural diversity and must be preserved (and popularized as well) as part of the common heritage of the world. The 1954 Hague Convention, which is also the basis of other international treaties, defines in its first article that cultural property “regardless of origin or owner, is a movable or immovable heritage of great importance to every people.” In this case, the Berlin tourism trade fair is showing a discriminatory and differentiated approach not only to the Artsakh heritage, but also to the people who created it.