ROCHEMP Center is the result of a project developed by the University of Bologna and the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of the Republic of Armenia, with the support of AICS – Italian Agency for Development Cooperation. The Center is a “competence Center” working in five key programmatic areas: Management, Training, Regulations, Communication, Regional Hub.

The conference was aimed at presenting to a wider public the main goals, results and future perspectives of the activities of the ROCHEMP Regional Office for Cultural Heritage Enhancement, Management and Protection (ROCHEMP). Armenian and Italian field specialists, experts, who have contributed to the establishment of the project, have participated in the online conference, reporting on the work implemented for six programmatic actions (Action A, B, C, D, E, F).

The conference was held under the presidency of the professor of the Department of Cultural Heritage of University of Bologna, Marco Abbiati. The Deputy Technical Director of AICS- Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, Leonardo Carmenati, Deputy Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of the Republic of Armenia, Ara Khzmalyan, Deputy Rector for International Relationship of University of Bologna, Alessandra Scagliarini, Head of the Department of Cultural Heritage of University of Bologna, Luigi Canetti gave welcoming speeches.

The main program of the conference was opened by the representative of AICS-Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, Emilio Cabasino, who talked about the support that the Agency has provided to the ROCHEMP Project, highlighting the importance of their commitment in the continuation of the project.

The professor of the Department of History and Cultures of University of Bologna, ROCHEMP Project’s Armenian Cultural Expert with function of facilitator, Anna Sirinian presented to the conference participants centuries-old Armenian-Italian cooperation and cultural interactions, stressing the important role that University of Bologna has played in this respect.

The professor of the Department of Culture Heritage of University of Bologna, Luigi Tomassini in his speech talked about the relevance and originality of the Project, as well as presented the history of the development of “ROCHEMP-ARMENIA” Project.

The professor of the Department of Cultural Heritage of University of Bologna, the Scientific Director of ROCHEMP Project, Mariangela Vandini and the Director of ROCHEMP Centre, Ani Avagyan presented the structure, the main areas of activities, mission and goals, as well as implemented work of the Project.  At the end օf her presentation Ani Avagyan introduced the Proceedings of the ROCHEMP 2020 International Conference which has been published recently by the National Gallery of Armenia. The regional and international dimension of implemented initiatives and crucial projects carried out in collaboration with local institutions (MoESCS of RA, MFA of RA, NUACA) and with the representatives of international organisations (ICOM Armenia, ICOMOS Armenia, “My Armenia” Program of the Smithsonian Institutions), in particular the “COVID-19 Consequences Relief Program” were mentioned. The Director of the Centre encouraged everyone to read the detailed report on our website.

The research fellow of the Department of Cultural Heritage of University of Bologna, ROCHEMP Project Manager, Tania Chinni, the Secretary-Translator of ROCHEMP Centre, Gohar Hovakimyan and the research fellow of the Department of Cultural Heritage of University of Bologna, the Advisor in diagnostic and restoration of the ROCHEMP Project, Sara Fiorentino in their speech introduced the work carried out by ROCHEMP Centre for the implementation of Action B and Action D. In February-June, 2020 15 Armenian and international experts were trained by the professors of University of Bologna and Italian heritage professionals within the ROCHEMP Project’s Action B. For Action D, the research on the educational institutions preparing cultural heritage professionals in Armenia was conducted, as well as the assessment of needs and the comparative analysis of Armenian and Italian cases, based on which it was suggested to develop and integrate curriculum for architectural restorers and other profession related to the cultural heritage preservation which will correspond to the internationally accepted standards of education.    

Another topic concerned Action C, the presenter Nanar Kalantaryan, who is the architect of ROCHEMP Centre, introduced the research conducted on the laws and regulations of cultural heritage sector of the Republic Armenia, which was realized within this component of the Project, as a result the main issues, omissions were determined, and a proposal for corresponding improvements was developed. The architect, the research fellow of Centre for Study and Documentation of Armenian Culture and the international expert of the ROCHEMP Project, Gaiane Casnati talked about the research methodology and the structure of a prepared report.  The professor of the Department of Cultural Heritage of University of Bologna and the Scientific Manager for the architectural restoration Marco Pretelli presented the peculiarities of developing a quality design project for architectural heritage preservation and the research fellow and the Advisor for the architectural restoration, Alessia Zampini familiarized the participants with the handbook of bill quantities and a pricelist prepared for the design projects for monuments’ conservation and restoration in Armenia.  

The next part of the conference was dedicated to the issues of Armenian heritage enhancement, particularly of the communication plan and tools of the ROCHEMP Project. The professor of the Department of Cultural Heritage of University of Bologna, the Director of FrameLAb, and the Scientific Manager of the Cultural Heritage Enhancement of the ROCHEMP Project, Alessandro Iannucci talked about the symbolical mission of the ROCHEMP Centre as a communication link situated between European and Asian civilizations. The research fellow and adjunct of the Department of Cultural Heritage of University of Bologna, the expert advisor in communication and enhancement of cultural heritage of the ROCHEMP Project, Simone Zambruno presented the strategies and implemented work of the FrameLAb developed for the ROCHEMP Project’s digital communication. The coordinator of the ROCHEMP Center, Gayane Babayan introduced the visibility and activities for the promotion of the Center on different social media and the media campaigns developed for different projects.

The main part of the conference was concluded by the Director of the National Gallery of Armenia, Marina Hakobyan who highlighted the mission of the Centre and informed that after the completion of the main phase of the ROCHEMP Project the Centre will be supported by the Armenian side.

During the closing statement of the Chargé d’Affaires of the Italian Embassy of Armenia, Giovanni Nicolo Dionisi emphasized the important role that the ROCHEMP Project had in the Armenian-Italian cultural diplomatic relations and invited the respective sides to the special consultation meeting on fostering the activities of the Centre.  

Despite the obstacles caused by COVID-19 pandemic and the war situation in Armenia, during its almost one-year operation, ROCHEMP Center managed to establish itself as a solid operational body and implement the set goals. The Center will present its new initiatives related to the issues of management, enhancement and protection of cultural heritage in the nearest future.

Declaration of the Committee for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict of the Second Protocol to The Hague Convention of 1954 for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict – ensuring cultural property protection in and around Nagorno-Karabakh and setting-up an independent technical mission

11 December 2020

I. Background
The 9 November tripartite statement/agreement by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia and the President of the Russian Federation, enacted a complete ceasefire and cessation of all hostilities in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh.
However, while damage to cultural property in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh has been reported during the conflict, it is highly difficult, under current circumstances, to assess the whole situation regarding the state of protection of cultural property in all its forms.
On 20 November 2020, invoking its mandate under the 1954 Hague Convention, and in particular its Article 23, the UNESCO Director-General has expressed readiness to set up an independent technical mission in order to assess the status of the most significant cultural property.

II. Declaration
The Committee:

  1. Noting the damages to cultural property in all its forms that have been reported during the conflict,
  2. Reaffirming the universal dimension of cultural heritage, as a testimony of history inseparable from peoples’ identity, which the international community has the duty to protect and preserve for future generations, beyond the conflicts of the moment,
  3. Recalling the provisions of the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its two Protocols (1954 and 1999), to both of which Armenia and Azerbaijan are Parties, and which are based on the conviction of the States Parties “that damage to cultural property belonging to any people whatsoever means damage to the cultural heritage of all mankind, since each people makes its contribution to the culture of the world”,
  4. Recalling also Security Council resolution 2347 (2017), which emphasizes that “the illegal destruction of cultural heritage, looting and smuggling of cultural property in the event of armed conflicts, including by terrorist groups, and attempts to deny historical roots and cultural diversity in this context, can fuel and exacerbate conflicts and impede post-conflict national reconciliation, thus undermining the security, stability, governance and social, economic and cultural development of affected States”,
  5. Calls for the protection of cultural heritage in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh and for the prevention of future damage;
  6. Appeals to all Parties involved to undertake all the immediate and necessary measures to prevent looting and protect cultural property in all its forms located in and around Nagorno-Karabakh;
  7. Welcomes the UNESCO’s initiative, taken in conformity with Article 23 of the 1954 Hague Convention, to carry out as soon as possible an independent technical mission, with the agreement of all concerned Parties, with the aim of assessing the status of the cultural property in all its forms as a prerequisite for the effective protection of heritage;
  8. Considers that such an assessment of status of the cultural property will contribute to establish a basis for progressive and comprehensive future rehabilitation and development actions to promote the return to civilian life in and around Nagorno-Karabakh in the field of cultural heritage;
  9. Encourages UNESCO to continue its work with States Parties and other interested partners creating conditions for such an independent technical mission.

The Deputies of the Minister of ESCS of RA have received the Undersecretary for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy

The Deputies of the Minister of ESCS of the Republic of Armenia, Arthur Martirosyan and Narine Khachatouryan received the delegation led by Undersecretary for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy, Manilo Di Stefano. From the Armenian side was also present the Director of the Regional Office for Cultural Heritage Enhancement, Management and Protection (ROCHEMP Centre), Ani Avagyan.

The meeting was focused on the continuation of the cooperation established between the governments of Armenia and Italy in frames of ROCHEMP Project, on the issues of the safety, preservation and protection of cultural heritage in the territory of the conflict zone in Artsakh, as well as on the questions related to fostering cooperation in the field of cultural heritage between Armenia and Italy.

The Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Manilo Di Stefano noted that the government of Italy is committed to continue its support for ROCHEMP Project and through this Project contribute to the preservation of historical and cultural monuments. “Issues related to the cultural heritage are non-political, and Italy on this matter has no second agenda”, – added he.

The Deputy Minister of ESCS of RA, Arthur Martirosyan presented the issues concerning the preservation of historical and cultural monuments situated out of the territory of RA, as well as the inadmissibility of misrepresentation of Armenian cultural heritage stressing the potential assistance and role of Italy in this important process.

The Deputy Minister Narine Khachaturyan also represented the results of the activities of the Regional Office for Cultural Heritage Enhancement, Management and Protection. “The further activities of the Centre will make new opportunities for the preservation of historical and cultural monuments of Armenia, Artsakh and of the region”.

The Director of Regional Office for Cultural Heritage Enhancement, Management and Protection, Ani Avagyan, reflecting on the one-year activities of the Centre, expressed her gratitude to the Ministry of ESCS of RA, AICS – the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation and the University of Bologna for their support and cooperation in this important project.

“Despite the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and war the Centre has fully implemented its mandated tasks, creating a solid ground for its continuation”, – pointed out the Centre Director.  


WEBINAR 2 – 15 November – Sustainable use and tourism

Can the need to preserve the rests of our history meet the needs of a community for its economic growth and development? The answer to this question seems almost obvious today, since numerous archaeological sites are extremely popular in tourist visits. However, tourism have also negative effects on cultural heritage and proper management cannot fail to question itself about these effects as well.

The webinar “Archaeological Heritage and Tourism”, organized by ICAHM / ICOMOS, to be held (information webinar), will address best strategies, local empowerment, community-based tourism, spirituality and the Covid-19 pandemic.

WEBINAR 2 – 15 November – Sustainable use and tourism
The sustainable use of archaeological places is a key issue. While the protection of archaeological places and their value is of great importance, there is also the need to cooperate with local actors in developing sustainable strategies for the use of archaeological resources as a means to local sustainable development.

Among the many possible uses of these places, tourism is one of the activities that can have a more drastic impact in the management of heritage places, both positively and negatively.

You are invited to a Zoom meeting.
When: Nov 15, 2020 12:00 PM Greenwich Mean Time

Register in advance for this meeting:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Europa Nostra Statement related to the armed conflict in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh region

Europa Nostra has always insisted that defending cultural heritage is more than a cultural issue: it is also a peace and security issue. It is inseparable from the vital goal of defending our humanity and our planet as a whole. Cultural heritage does not belong to one nation, one country or one region alone: cultural heritage is part of our shared humanity and our shared history. Once lost, it is lost forever and for all. To preserve, share and transmit this heritage to the next generation is, therefore, a joint responsibility of us all: international organisations, governments, heritage professionals and civil society alike.

Read The article


UNESCO International Conference “Cultural Policy, Policy for Culture: The Role of Culture in Post-2015 Development Agenda”, held in Armenia in 2015, adopted a Declaration, which in the strongest terms condemned cultural cleansing, barbaric destruction, violence, looting and other crimes committed against humanity’s cultural heritage and called upon the international․

Gohar Agha Upper Mosque, 1864–1865
In 2019 the mosque was restored keeping in mind the best international practices and standards, the project involved both local and international organizations. Along with an existing partnership with the Artsakh Ministry of Culture, the project also partnered with the Iranian “Part Saman Jahan” architectural bureau; the “TFA-Armenia” architectural bureau; ICOMOS-Armenia; Lorenzo Jurina, professor of the Politecnico di Milano; Faculty of Oriental Studies, Yerevan State University, as well as Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization. The latter provided significant support in inviting 12 specialists with major experience in brickwork construction, as well as the restoration of Islamic spiritual sites, to participate in the mosque renovation efforts.

Contribution of the Republic of Armenia to the consultations on the intentional destruction of cultural heritage as a violation of human rights, in particular cultural rights

The UN Human Rights Office of the Hight Commissionaire published a document, which states that the cultural heritage of national minorities in the Republic of Armenia is protected and preserved in accordance with appropriate legislation in force. According to the Constitution the citizens of Armenia who belong to national minorities have the right to preserve and develop their own customs, language, culture and religious liberties. These rights are reflected in a number of laws, which are being strengthened. The restoration of cultural heritage is implemented by means of financial resources allocated from the State Budget and from public-private partnerships. These resources are equally used to provide the restoration of both Armenian cultural heritage properties and ones belonging to national minorities.

The monuments of Armenian historical and cultural heritage have been a subject of intentional destruction throughout centuries during armed conflicts, as well as in time of peace. Along with human lives lost, cultural heritage is under ongoing attacks and under danger of destruction on both sides. Gross violation is done against the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.

As opposed to the policy of Azerbaijan, the Muslim monuments in Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh are under Government protection, well preserved and restored and are never used for any other purposes. The authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh have restored a 19th century mosque, the first Muslim monument to open as a tourist attraction in the entirely Christian-populated territory.

The monuments of Armenian heritage throughout the whole territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan have been either alienated (when falsely presented as “related to Caucasian Albania/Arran/Aghvank”) or destroyed.

This December will mark the 15th anniversary of the most recent and notorious of the acts of cultural vandalism committed in Nakhijevan. Several thousands of giant engraved cross-stones and tombstones of the medieval Armenian cemetery of Old Jugha in Nakhijevan were bulldozed by the Azerbaijani army during peacetime. There is ample evidence, including photos and videos, showing the destruction of the Armenian cultural heritage. In total 89 medieval churches, 5.840 ornate cross-stones and 22,000 historical tombstones were demolished only in Nakhijevan between 1997 and 2006. 

Cross stones, Nakhichevan 12-13cc.

The 16th General Assembly of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) adopted in October 2008 a resolution expressing the international community’s concern with regard to these acts of vandalism and regretfully stating: “this heritage that once enjoyed its worthy place among the treasures of the world’s heritage can no longer be transmitted today to future generations.”

Deliberate destruction of cultural heritage sites amounts to war crimes. The history shows that any form of intolerance towards the values of civilization belonging to others, intentionally damaging or destroying cultural or religious heritage, must be condemned with strong determination in order to protect the heritage. By keeping silence, we are paving the way to the new cultural atrocities to be committed in the different parts of the world. 

Museums and collections located in the zone of current fire are under huge risk of destruction. Museum professionals are committed to promote and to call the international and national societies to protect and preserve cultural heritage that is a mean to achieve a global well-being. The international Council of Museums – ICOM promotes the idea of museums and culture being for peace, mutual understanding and protecting human memory.



This book is addressed to those readers and visitors who want to know better the ancient heritage of Armenia and aims to highlight the archaeological, architectural, art historical, cultural and historical significant value of the Ererouyk complex and its peculiarities, as well as to the greatest extent elucidate the reason for the establishment of this complex in a place which today is in a miserable and isolated state. The current publication also attempts to make comprehensible the factors by which is conditioned the development and preservation of the complex, comprised of totally different structures dating from the ancient times to the end of the Middle Ages. For that reason, two sources of information were used in this book: the first is the accumulated knowledge about this site during the twentieth century and at the turn of twenty-first century, the second are the results of the research conducted by the Armenian-French expedition of the Institute of Archaeology of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia and Shirak Geological Museum in collaboration with the Aix-Marseille University (France). Finally, this book succinctly presents a new program of the enhancement which is a proposal for fostering the touristic potential not only of the Ererouyk site but also for learning about, adjacent to the complex, the modern architectural heritage of the village of Anipemza.



From 2010 the complex which includes the remains of Ererouyk and the village of Anipemza was the objective of several significant projects of the preservation and enhancement, oriented not only toward the issues of national heritage, but also toward the development of tourism and economy, pursuing a specific mission – improving living conditions of the local population.

The first phase was initiated by the Ministry of Culture of Armenia in 2012 with the support of foreign partners the Laboratory of Medieval and Modern Archaeology in the Mediterranean (Aix-en-Provence) and Center of Studies and Documentation of Armenian Culture (Milan-Venice). Due to the efforts of the Ministry, the Armenian government approved the program of the site’s managing and improvement of the road accessibility. The Ministry has also started an action for including Ererouyk in the World Heritage List of UNESCO.

The second phase was in 2015, again with the support of the Laboratory of Medieval and Modern Archaeology in the Mediterranean and the Polytechnic University of Milan, was initiated the research, preservation and tourism importance project by Gaiane Casnati, the architect of the Centre of Studies and Documentation of Armenian Culture. In 2016 Europa Nostra Association and European Investment Bank Institution classified Ererouyk-Anipemza complex in the list of “Seven most endangered sites”. This classification became a starting point for launching a funding campaign for a program that included the creation of a group of the international experts (including the author of these lines) and initiation of a funding campaign for making the project into reality. Two university and scholarly institutions – the Polytechnic University of Milan and the Laboratory of Medieval and Modern Archaeology in the Mediterranean have joined the project.

The goals of the project are: a) to deepen the study of archaeological remains; b) to ensure the protection of destroyed monuments with conservation of their some extremely endangered parts; c) to create conditions for good preservation and presentation of rich collection of stones  nowadays dispersed on the site; d) to promote the site’s managing by supporting Armenian government in the processing of the enhancement program; e) to establish a regional center for tourism with the active involvement of a local population in the village of Anipemza. Such a project definitely seems ambitious and its implementation can occur only in phases. However, if it receives a stable support of Armenian authorities and this way arouses interest of local, national and international players, its implementation in average time frame seems quite possible.

With respect to this last point, it is proposed to restore some of 1920s-30s significant buildings of Anipemza and to place several exhibition spaces there. In one of them can be displayed the collection of sculptured stones – this would allow to represent the history of the architectural complex and at the same time of the early Christian architecture, of its decoration and cross-bearing stele. Another exhibition hall through the documentation and photographs would present the public the life of the village in the Soviet period. The creation of this kind of center would become an important factor for the stimulation of the economy of Anipemza and its surrounding.

For a long-term perspective, in case of favorable political conditions, it is planned to give this center a cross-border significance, making Anipemza an important place for international tourism which would open a door for the exploration of the ancient, medieval and new periods rich heritage of Shirak on two sides of the Armenian-Turkish border. Along with Ani, it can become a cross-border archaeological park, the creation of which would correspond to the endeavors of the scholars, and among them first of all of Adriano Alpago Novello, who have already dreamed about it for a half century.

The inclusion of these two sites in the UNESCO World Heritage List: the city of Ani (obtained on 15th of July, 2016 by the efforts of Turkish authorities) and Ererouyk (listed in the “Tentative list”) should facilitate the implementation of such a project. The current publication is intended to contribute to the fulfillment of these aims.       


The Government of the Republic of Armenia approved Order # 1919 on the 21st of May, 2020. It states the support to the project of conservation of a unique early Christian site Yereruik located on the North-West of Armenia right on the border between Armenian and Turkey, next to the Anipemza settlement.
In this first phase of the project the National University Of Architecture
And Construction Of Armenia (NUACA ) in partnership with the experts from Milan Polytechnic, Bologna University and ROCHEMP Center will prepare the conservation project for the 5th -6th cc. Yereruik Basilica and the vault, a project of establishment of a museum in the house of culture of Anipemsa will be developed as well.

For this reason on September 16th, 2020 the experts of the National University of Architecture and Construction of Armenia with the staff members of ROCHEMP regional office for cultural heritage Conservation, Management and Protection have conducted a survey. The architect restorers Dr. Emma Harutyunyan and Nanar Kalantaryan implemented observations of disorders of the remains of Basilica, recorded the humidity level in the stone of the walls, took endoscopic measures using as their expertise, so new technological means.
The map of signage around the site, information panels, walking paths and all required arrangement for the visitors was drown.
The results of the survey will be used for the preparation of the Conservation project of the Yereruyk site.
In 2016, the archaeological site of Yereruyk and the near village of Anipemz have been inserted in the prestigious list of the 7 MOST ENDANGERED sites of Europe thanks to the nomination submitted by the Centro Studi e Documentazione della Cultura Armena (CSDCA).

Yereruyk is the historical site chosen by the scientific board of the ROCHEMP Center as the main site for the training on job of the Training for Cultural Heritage experts.

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