By Ulkar Natiqqiz
First Vice President and first lady of Azerbaijan, Mehriban Aliyeva, has unexpectedly resigned from her role as “goodwill ambassador” to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, amid a dispute between Baku and the UN organization over Karabakh.
Aliyeva made the announcement on November 15 via a letter in which she implied that she was too busy following Azerbaijan’s 2020 military victory over Armenia. In the letter, “it was emphasized that currently, after the liberation of the territories of Azerbaijan from long-term occupation resulting from the Patriotic War, the First Vice-President is actively involved in the large-scale restoration and revitalization of the region,” state media reported.
But the resignation comes in the context of what has been a long-running conflict between the Azerbaijani government and UNESCO, as Baku considers the current leadership biased toward Armenia.
The organization has long been the subject of criticism from Azerbaijani state officials, starting from President Ilham Aliyev, who accuse it of failing to investigate the destruction of Azerbaijani cultural heritage following Armenians’ victory in the First Karabakh War of the early 1990s.
Then, following the Azerbaijani victory in 2020, when it retook most of the territory it had lost in the 1990s, UNESCO publicly complained that Azerbaijan was dragging its feet in allowing a UNESCO mission into those territories to assess the situation with cultural heritage. Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry retorted with a complaint that the organization was “politicizing” the issue.