in Russian – https://aga-tribunal.info/bishop-daniel-10-2-2022/
Bishop Daniel, Primate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian church, responded to Catholicos Karekin II’s request dated Feb 8, 2022 by sending a letter to U.S. President Biden, as well as other governmental officials.
The full letter dated Feb 10 appears below. In the original text there was a typo, it was fixed below: the war started in the autumn 2020, not 2021. Source: https://armenianchurch.us/2022/02/10/mother-see-addresses-threat-to-artsakhs-armenian-heritage/
President Joseph R. Biden
The White House
Dear President Biden:
I am writing as Chief Bishop of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, to express the concern and outrage of our community over recent announcements from the government of Azerbaijan, that signal its official plans to desecrate Armenian Christian monuments, and erase evidence of their Armenia origin, in the region of Nagorno-Karabagh.
As you know, Nagorno-Karabagh has been the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Armenia and Azerbaijan, since the period before the fall of the Soviet Union. Karabagh (or Artsakh, as it is known in Armenian) has long been a majority-Armenian region, considered part of historic Armenia since antiquity. For 30 years, starting in the early 1990s, Karabagh was governed as an independent Armenian republic. But in the fall of 2020, Azerbaijan launched a cynical surprise attack on the region, conquered large portions of it through force of arms, and incorporated these lands into its own territory. That event displaced thousands of Armenians from their homes, and left hundreds of Armenia monuments at the mercy of Azeri military forces.
This week, the Azeri Minister of Culture gave a press briefing in which he announced his government’s intention to proceed with another anti-Armenian initiative. According to this announcement, in Azerbaijan a “working group of experts in Albanian history and architecture” has been formed, whose goal is to remove “false traces [sic] left by Armenians” from Albanian religious temples.
The Culture Minister’s statement references a theory, which has become prominent in Azerbaijan—but is categorically dismissed by mainstream scholars and historians—that Armenian inscriptions in churches on Azerbaijani territory are not original, but were late additions to churches built under Caucasian Albania, an ancient Christian kingdom that ruled part of the territory that is today Azerbaijan.
To the contrary, however, the Armenian identity of these Christian holy places has never before been in question. It is a reality firmly established by scholars across the globe, and cannot be considered a topic of debate in objective scholarly circles.
The supreme authority of the worldwide Armenian Church, the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, has strongly condemned this initiative of the Azerbaijani authorities, calling it “an uncivilized act against humanity, which demonstrates an ongoing, underlying enmity and hatred towards Artsakh and the Armenian people.”
As Armenian-Americans, our community joins the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin in asking all nations concerned with the settling of the Karabagh conflict, especially the co-chair nations of the OSCE Minsk Group, as well as religious organizations and international bodies of experts, to condemn this attempt of “cultural genocide” by Azerbaijan, in the hope of preventing this and similar acts of vandalism against Armenian Christian monuments.
In the days following the announcement, the Azeri government seems to be distancing itself from the explicit statement of its Culture Minister. Perhaps this is a positive sign that pressure from the international community—which immediately expressed outrage at the minister’s initial announcement—is working. However, the danger to the Armenian heritage—and to Armenian lives—in Azeri-controlled territories of Karabagh remains urgent.
Mr. President, we would welcome the opportunity to meet and discuss this matter further. Most of all, we appeal to you to make your condemnation of this outrageous policy known to the public, and especially to the government authorities of Azerbaijan.
Thank you for your consideration and attention to this urgent matter.
With my prayers,