Baku. Malahat Najafova – APA. Azerbaijan is considering taking legal actions in accordance with the country’s legislation with regard to a group of foreign researchers illegally conducting archaeological excavations in the Azykh Cave in the Armenia-occupied territories of Azerbaijan, Hikmat Hajiyev, spokesperson for Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry, told APA on Monday.
According to Hajiyev, the Armenian media reported earlier that a group of foreign researches—Dr. Yolanda Fernandez-Jalvo (National Museum of Natural History of Spain), Dr. Tania King (Blandford Town Museum, UK), Dr. Peter Andrews (Natural History Museum, UK)—are conducting illegal archaeological excavations in the Azykh Cave, located in the Armenia-occupied Khojavand district of Azerbaijan.
He noted that these individuals have illegally crossed the state border of Azerbaijan, without a license of the country’s relevant authorities, and have been conducting illegal excavations at the site of the Azykh Cave.
“They have transported away the archeological findings by evading from Azerbaijan’s customs control,” Hajiyev said, calling these acts ‘a blatant violation of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and sovereignty’.
“By taking these illegal actions, they have violated the UNESCO Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict with Regulations for the Execution of the Convention 1954 and the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property 1970,” he added.
“And the Second Protocol to the Hague Convention of 1954 further expanded the scope of protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict 1999. Article 9 of the Protocol states that a Party in occupation of the whole or part of the territory of another Party shall prohibit and prevent in relation to the occupied territory any illicit export, other removal or transfer of ownership of cultural property, any archaeological excavation, save where this is strictly required to safeguard, record or preserve cultural property, and any alteration to, or change of use of, cultural property which is intended to conceal or destroy cultural, historical or scientific evidence,” Hajiyev continued.
The Foreign Ministry spokesperson regretted that the National Museum of Natural History of Spain and the British Blandford Town Museum do not take necessary measures to prevent their employees’ actions contrary to Azerbaijan’s laws and the international conventions.
According to Hajiyev, one of the “leaders” of the illegal excavations conducted in the Azykh Cave is Levon Yepiskoposyan, an employee of the Institute of Molecular Biology of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia.
“Recently, this man made a racist statement, claiming that the 7,000-year-old DNA trace found as a result of the illegal archaeological excavations in the Azykh Cave corresponds to the modern “Armenian genetics”. This statement is an insult to the science of archeology and anthropology, as well as is beyond the moral and ethical framework,” the spokesperson stressed.
“In general, such an addiction of the Armenian political leadership and scientific circles to the “Armenian genetic codes” can only be compared with German Nazis’ dangerous genetic interests such as “Aryan race,”” he said.
Hajiyev went on to say that in 2016 Springer publishing house published a book titled “Azokh Caves and the Transcaucasian Corridor” about the archaeological excavations illegally carried out by foreign nationals in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.
All this proves once again that Armenia, in violation of international legal obligations, continues to brutally destroy and plunder the historical and cultural heritage in the occupied Azerbaijani territories, he said.
Hajiyev emphasized that for their illegal actions, Yolanda Fernandez-Jalvo, Tania King and Peter Andrews have been included in the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry’s list of ‘undesirable people’, who illegally visited the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict entered its modern phase when the Armenian SRR made territorial claims against the Azerbaijani SSR in 1988.
A fierce war broke out between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. As a result of the war, Armenian armed forces occupied some 20 percent of Azerbaijani territory which includes Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent districts (Lachin, Kalbajar, Aghdam, Fuzuli, Jabrayil, Gubadli and Zangilan), and over a million Azerbaijanis became refugees and internally displaced people.
The military operations finally came to an end when Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement in Bishkek in 1994.
Dealing with the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is the OSCE Minsk Group, which was created after the meeting of the CSCE (OSCE after the Budapest summit held in Dec.1994) Ministerial Council in Helsinki on 24 March 1992. The Group’s members include Azerbaijan, Armenia, Russia, the United States, France, Italy, Germany, Turkey, Belarus, Finland and Sweden.
Besides, the OSCE Minsk Group has a co-chairmanship institution, comprised of Russian, the US and French co-chairs, which began operating in 1996.
Resolutions 822, 853, 874 and 884 of the UN Security Council, which were passed in short intervals in 1993, and other resolutions adopted by the UN General Assembly, PACE, OSCE, OIC, and other organizations require Armenia to unconditionally withdraw its troops from Nagorno-Karabakh.