France, Strasburg, 26 June /corr. Trend А.Маherremli / "The meeting of the PACE Committee on Culture, Science and Education focused on the visit of the PACE rapporteur on cultural heritage in South Caucasus, Edward O'Hara, to the region. The matter is that such questions are discussed with the participation of the rapporteur, but he was absent at the meeting. Therefore, the question was removed from the agenda. Presence of the member of the Armenian delegation to PACE and the Armenian Ambassador at the meeting gave us a reason to think. Due to it, I decided to stay by the end of the meeting," Rafael Huseynov, member of the Azerbaijani delegation to PACE, told in an exclusive interview with Trend after the meeting of the PACE Committee on Culture, Science and Education.
According to Huseynov, at the end of the meeting, the issue was included in the agenda and discussions began on it. "The Chairman of the Committee accused us that as though we do not give an opportunity for O'Hara's visit to Azerbaijan. In reply, I said that the visit has definite format. The visit to Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia should take place at same time. Azerbaijan is a country incurring occupation and hundreds of thousands of cultural monuments have been destroyed on its 20% occupied territories. Furthermore, hundreds of thousands of the Azerbaijanis densely resided in Armenia, and their graves and cultural monuments have left there. The cultural monuments have been destroyed or popularized in the world as Armenian ones. Therefore, the visit to Azerbaijan and Armenia should take place at same time," he said.
Huseynov said that a balance should be observed in this issue. "If O'Hara insists and the Chairman of the Committee supports him, the visit should be made not only to Nakhchivan. Firstly the visit should be paid to Nagorno-Karabakh and other occupied territories of Azerbaijan provided that the visit begins from Azerbaijan. I said that these lands are Azerbaijan's territories and it has been confirmed in all international documents. Beginning the visit there from other territories means violation of Azerbaijan's territorial integrity. Azerbaijani Government creates all conditions for O'Hara's visit to these territories. If O'Hara indeed wants to go there and hold studies, he should require the Armenian government to create necessary conditions for the visit to occupied Azerbaijani lands," he said.
With regards to Nakhchivan, Huseynov said that there is no historical Armenian burial there. "It is Azerbaijani burial which belongs to the pre-Islam period. There are such burials on various territories of Azerbaijan. If the Head of the Committee or O'Hara consider it important to demonstrate respect for burials in separate taken region, city or village, why were hundreds of the Azerbaijani burials have been destroyed on the occupied Azerbaijani lands or in Armenia? Why do not they think of it? In addition, I said that it is very sensitive issue and it needs to demonstrate a balanced approach to it. It is impossible to transform this issue into a political game. O'Hara suggested to include this issue in the report on Azerbaijan as a separate item, but during open voting, the Monitoring Committee and PACE rejected it," the MP said.
Furthermore, Huseynov said that the issue of visit of the PACE Committee's rapporteur on culture will most probably be discussed during September and October meetings of the Committee.
O'Hara planned to visit South Caucasus at the end of 2005. His visit has been postponed for several times and has not taken place up to now.
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