"PACE Rapporteur’s Refusal to Visit South Caucasus Mistaken" – Delegation Member

Azerbaijan, Baku, 3 July / Trend corr I.Alizade/ Azerbaijan thinks is it imperative to study the state of the South Caucasus's cultural heritage by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). "The rapporteur on South Caucasus's cultural heritage of the PACE Committee on Culture, Science and Education, British MP Edward O'Hara took a rush decision not to pay a visit to the region, thus making a mistake," Rafael Huseynov, a members of PACE delegation to Azerbaijan and a member of the Committee on Culture, Science and Education, said to Trend on 3 July.

Reporter on studying situation of the cultural heritage in the South Caucasus of the PACE Committee for Culture, Science and Education was appointed in 2005. The decision adopted in this regard says that the reporter O'Hara is expected to visit Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia soon. However, the visit did not take place for the last three years.

Azerbaijan stated that it is ready to provide conditions for reporter's visit. The official Baku believes that O'Hara should visit Nagorno-Karabakh occupied by Armenia and study the situation of the monuments of this region once he visits Azerbaijan. At the same time, the reporter should study the situation of the old monuments of Azerbaijan in the territory of Armenia. However, Armenia does not want reporter to visit Nagorno-Karabakh beginning from the Azerbaijani territory. Armenia claims that Azerbaijan has destroyed all old 'Armenian monuments' in the territory of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic of Azerbaijan and wants the reporter to visit Nakhchivan. Azerbaijan stated that it is ready to provide conditions for reporter's visit to Nakhchivan.

Last week O'Hara refused to visit region because of the political difficulties he faced.

Huseynov thinks the rapporteur will change his mind: "Yielding to emotions, Edward O'Hara rejected the visit. He must change his decision."

According to Huseynov, the PACE Committee on Culture, Science and Education decided to make rapporteurs visit all three South Caucasus countries - Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia at once.

"On 21 July, 2008, at a meeting of the Committee on Culture, Science and Education, O'Hara said it is impossible to visit Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia simultaneously. Therefore, first of all, he wants to visit Azerbaijan. We can agree to that, but only if the rapporteur visits Nagorno-Karabakh and its nearby regions occupied by Armenia beginning from Azerbaijan. We want him to see the Azerbaijani monuments destroyed by Armenians in the occupied territories. However, O'Hara wanted to visit only Baku and Nakhchivan. Azerbaijan cannot agree with that," said Huseynov.

Huseynov said the rapporteur has his own aims for the visit to Nakhchivan. He said Armenians have claims for Nakhchivan territory: "By his visit to Nakhchivan, O'Hara wants to consolidate Armenians' claims. I informed the rapporteur that Nakhchivan does not have any ancient Armenian moment. If O'Hara insists on his visit to Nakhchivan, let him come to Azerbaijan, then visit Nagorno-Karabakh from Azerbaijan, and then go to any place he wants."

According to Huseynov, O'Hara's refusal to visit South Caucasus will not affect Council of Europe's decision to study the state of the cultural heritage in the region. He said both CE and PACE insist on studying the cultural state in South Caucasus: "If not O'Hara, some other deputy will be the rapporteur. But the visit will definitely take place."

The correspondent can be contacted at [email protected]

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