By Shakeh Avoyan
Armenia on Monday hosted a meeting of a major parliamentary committee of the Council of Europe for the first time since becoming a full member of the organization last January. Twenty-two parliamentarians from 16 member states attend the two-day session of the committee on culture and education of the Council’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE).
The speaker of the Armenian parliament, Armen Khachatrian, welcomed the participants, saying that the choice of the meeting’s venue is “symbolical” given the ongoing celebrations of the 1700th anniversary of Armenia’s conversion to Christianity. Khachatrian said the event had a profound impact on Armenian culture which is “a part of the pan-European cultural heritage.”
Two Azerbaijani deputies attending the meeting accused Armenians of destroying Azerbaijani monuments in Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding occupied territories. The Armenian side denied the charges, seeking to prove that the opposite is the case. An exhibition organized specially for the participants featured photographs of ancient Armenian churches in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Azerbaijan that are crumbling after decades of neglect and deliberate destruction.