Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev vowed on Wednesday to wipe out all Armenian traces from territories that have come under Azeri occupation following the end of the recent conflict over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.
He was pictured in the occupied Hadrut region, where he threatened to erase the Armenian inscriptions from a 12th-century church, branding them “fake.”
Mr. Aliyev, who has a PhD in history, claimed that “Armenians wanted to Armenianise this church by leaving inscriptions in Armenian” during his visit to the St Astvatsatsin Church in the village of Tsakuri.
He said that the church looked like “a barn and a rubbish dump,” accusing Armenians of desecrating what he claimed was “an Albanian temple,” which he promised to restore.
The authoritarian Azeri ruler’s cultural destruction drew comparisons to the 1915 Armenian genocide in which 1.5 million men, women and children were systematically exterminated by Ottoman troops.
Between 1915 and 1922 it is estimated that 1,036 Armenian churches and monasteries were destroyed.
Armenia’s ambassador to the Netherlands Tigran Balayan said: “War crimes by President Aliyev’s regime continue at full scale.”