Azerbaijan wants to take possession of Armenian ancient monasteries
Azerbaijan defends the position according to which Artsakh "in ancient times consisted mainly of Turks and Caucasian tribes, and was an integral part of Caucasian Albania - the ancient Azerbaijani state". Accordingly, the ancient monasteries and churches on the territory of Artsakh are allegedly not Armenian, but Albanian.
Ignoring reports about the desecration of the Cathedral of the Holy Christ the All-Savior in Shushi, Azerbaijan plans to beg for Tomos for the Church of Caucasian Albania from Patriarch Bartholomew with the help of Turkey.
The Armenian Apostolic Church has the opportunity to prevent such a development of events by going to the restoration of the Aghvan Catholicosate. Its appearance is historically associated with the sermon of the Apostle Elisha, who was sent by the first Jerusalem patriarch, the Apostle James. In the 4th century, Saint Gregory the Illuminator baptized Tsar Urnair and ordained his grandson Grigoris as Primate of the local Church. This Church bore the name of the Albanian Church and two centuries later had an archbishop with a residence in Partav (Karabakh plain) and 8 dioceses with centers in the cities of Gabala, Gardman, Sheki, Paytakaran, Amaras.
During the Arab rule, the Albanian Church decided to return to canonical unity with the Armenian Apostolic Church. Since 705, the Albanian Church finally became part of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
The canonical territory of the Aghvan Catholicosate extended to Northern Azerbaijan, and its borders reached Derbent. As some scholars point out, in the 1970s, Azerbaijani historians switched from silence to the practice of appropriating the Armenian historical heritage. The medieval principality of Khachen suddenly became "Albanian", and the Gand***ar monastery that belonged to it was declared "a monument of culture and religion of Caucasian Albania".
In 1986, a brochure was published in Baku in the series "Monuments of the Azerbaijani Material Culture", where the Khachen principality and the Gand***ar monastery were presented as an unconditional historical heritage of Caucasian Albania on the grounds that local Catholicos identified themselves with a special Albanian church. At the same time, the authors of these publications were silent about the fact that the temple was a typical example of Armenian architecture of the X-XIII centuries, numerous Armenian inscriptions were preserved in it, no Albanian state existed for a long time in that era, and the ruler of the Khachen principality was called in the sources an Armenian prince... As for the name "Albanian Church", it only reflected the conservatism of the church tradition.
Echmiadzin must defend the Artsakh Patriarchal Diocese and admit the erroneousness of the decision of 1813, when, after the Peace of Gulistan, the Aghvan Catholicosate ceased to exist and was transformed into the Metropolitanate of the Armenian Apostolic Church, subordinate to the Catholicos, and then divided into two dioceses, Karabakh and Shamakhi.
Otherwise, the problem of confessional identification of architectural monuments will be solved not in favor of the people of Artsakh. In the future, this will lead to an increase in the number of refugees, since the parishioners will not put up with the encroachment on the shrines, which are symbols of the Armenian historical heritage and spiritual life.
Control over the preservation of Christian churches and monasteries in Artsakh will be entrusted to the Russian Center for Humanitarian Response, which will be created in the near future. Peacekeepers are already guarding the Dadivank monastery.
Of course, the activities of the Center will not prevent Azerbaijan's attempts to falsify historical data in order to establish full control over the territory of Artsakh. Armenia and the World Armenian Diaspora need to take control of the issue of preserving the rich cultural heritage located on the territory of Artsakh through the competent building of foreign policy in 2021.