Speaking at the meeting of PACE Committee on Culture, Science and Education, Armenian parliamentarian Raffi Hovanesian said Azerbaijan allegedly demolished medieval Armenian graves in Julfa region in the Autonomous Republic of Nakhchivan. He said the issue needs to be included in a special report of PACE. The Armenian MP`s claims evoked harsh reaction from his Azerbaijani counterpart Rafael Huseynov. The Azeri MP said Armenia occupied twenty percent of Azerbaijan`s territory destroying tens of thousands of cultural monuments, including Azykh Cave and stone monuments and mounds in Agdam. Huseynov said it is Armenians that demolished all Azerbaijani graves not only in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, but also in Armenia itself. He stressed there are graves of representatives of various nations, including Armenia, in Azerbaijan, and that his country has always been preserving them.

According to the Azerbaijani parliamentarian, even today, there is an Armenian church in the center of Baku, and “no one is going to damage it”.

“There are no Armenian graves in the territory of Nakhchivan. This is just an Armenian fabrication”, Huseynov added. He noted Hovanesian`s allegations are nothing, but senseless and groundless territorial claims. Rafael Huseynov said Nagorno-Karabakh and Nakhchivan are Azerbaijani territories. He also added Armenians have been making all efforts to prevent a visit to the region by PACE fact-finding mission led by British MP Edward O’Hara.

Other speakers including British parliamentarians Baroness Hooper, Robert Walter and Andrew McIntosh backed their Azerbaijani counterpart’s stance, and said Raffi Hovanesian`s claims are hindering both continuation of the dialogue and O’Hara`s visit to the region.

However, the Armenian parliamentarian once again asked permission to speak and said that unlike his country which destroyed the Azerbaijani graves during the war, Azerbaijan did it in 2005.

But again the Azerbaijan MP`s response was more than convincing.

He said Armenia had been destroying Azerbaijani graves and cultural monuments for more than ten years, including in the years of ceasefire.

“This is why, we insist on O’Hara`s visiting the region to become an eyewitness of this. We are ready to give every support to the fact-finding mission. We support the British parliamentarians` constructive proposals and recommendations, and we hope Armenia will also take this stance”, said Rafael Huseynov.

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