Last week, the Diocesan Primate H.E. Archbishop Hovnan Derderian traveled to Austria where an International Conference and Workshop on May 13-14 at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna (www.weltmuseumwien.at/en/).
Two days prior to the conference and workshop, on May 11, a small presentation by Archbishop Derderian was held at the University of Salzburg dedicated to the spiritual-cultural heritage of Artsakh, wherein His Eminence emphasized the importance of the spiritual-cultural heritage of Artsakh and the issue of its protection. Archbishop Derderian was introduced by Dr. Jasmine Dum-Tragut, Director of the Center for the Study of the Christian East at the University of Salzburg and the Armenian Studies Division at the Center for the Study of the Christian East at the Faculty of Catholic Theology of the University of Salzburg; Following the presentation, the liturgy of the hours in the university chapel Sacellum acquainted the staff and students of the Faculty of Theology with Armenian spirituality. The event was attended by Archbishop Franz Lackner of Salzburg, His Grace Bishop Tiran Petrosyan, Pontifical Delegate for Central Europe and Sweden; His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America; His Grace Bishop Vrtanes Abrahamyan, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of Artsakh; and the Very Rev. Fr. Garegin Hambardzumyan, Director of the Artsakh Office for Cultural and Cultural Heritage of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. An evening reception hosted by the Catholic Archbishop of Salzburg and co-organized with ecumenical foundation PRO ORIENTE Salzburg was held for the entire Faculty of Theology.
The two-day conference and workshop from May 13-14, was titled ‘Culture in Conflict - the South Caucasus today.’ The event was jointly organized by the Armenian Studies Division at the Center for the Study of the Christian East at the Faculty of Catholic Theology of the University of Salzburg, Blue Shield Austria, Roerich Pact Society Austria, Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin Office for Artsakh spiritual-cultural heritage issues and the Austrian Committee for the Protection of Armenian Cultural Heritage in Artsakh.
The International Conference commenced on May 13th with presentations in four panels titled ‘The South Caucasus: Culture and Politics, Heritage and Conflicts’, starting from the general geopolitics of the whole region and then narrowing down to the issue of cultural heritage protection in Artsakh. In the third panel, the spiritual-cultural heritage of Karabakh was presented by representatives of Armenian organizations (and the founding members of Blue Shield Armenia): the tangible, immovable heritage (churches, monasteries, cross-stones, gravestones, secular buildings, bridges, etc.), the tangible movable heritage (manuscripts, museum collections, excavation finds) as well as the intangible heritage. The title of Archbishop Hovnan Derderian's during panel three was “The Spiritual Heritage in Artsakh and the role of the Armenian Apostolic Church in cultural heritage protection”.
His Eminence's seven-part presentation was based on historical facts, supported by archaeological evidence. The comprehensive report was comprised of the following subtitles.
Artsakh: The Cradle of Armenians,
Christianity as a State Religion in Artsakh,
The Expansion of Armenian Literature in Artsakh,
The Scriptural Culture of Artsakh - From Gandzasar to Shushi,
Medieval spiritual monuments,
The Diocese of Artsakh,
The guarantees of Artsakh's preservation of spiritual heritage
In his remarks, Archbishop Hovnan Derderian expressed his wholehearted gratitude to the organizers Dr. Jasmine Dum-Tragut, Director of the Center for the Study of the Christian East at the University of Salzburg and the Armenian Studies Division at the Center for the Study of the Christian East at the Faculty of Catholic Theology of the University of Salzburg; Bishop Tiran Petrosyan, Pontifical Delegate for Central Europe and Scandinavia, the Organizing Committee Blue Shield Austria, the Roerich Pact Society Austria, the Austrian Committee for the preservation of Armenian Cultural Heritage in Artsakh, the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin’s Office for Artsakh spiritual-cultural heritage preservation. Archbishop Derderian also expressed his appreciation to His Eminence Archbishop Franz Lackner, the Archbishop of Salzburg for his support of the conference.
Archbishop Derderian reflected on the immense role of the Austrian government in the protection of human rights and cultural preservation. "We are aware of the sincere support of the Austrian government, scientific, public and religious organizations and individuals for the protection of the rights of the Armenians of Artsakh. Austria is model of a democracy and a leader in the protection of human rights, serving as an example for both the Republic of Armenia and I believe, for the European family at large. The purest expression of our statement is the organization of this conference, in which it is a great honor for us to participate. We are sure that such conferences will be continuous and will lead to the real security of Artsakh and the native Armenians of Artsakh, outlining practical steps of preserving Artsakh’s rich heritage."
On Saturday, May 14, a workshop themed ‘Cultural Property Protection: Practical Perspectives on the Current Conflicts in the South Caucasus’, concluded the conference.