UNESCO Cultural Heritage List Sparks a Lavash War Between Armenia and Azerbaijan

Lavash, the preparation, meaning and appearance of traditional bread as an expression of culture in Armenia has been entered into UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

This information sounded like propaganda to me right from the start, especially after Armenia’s Foreign Ministry disseminated the Press Release about it. It also struck me as silly. I mean, how do you enter breathing or drinking water into the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage for example? Because lavash is similarly common for Armenia. 

However, the information was there on the UNESCO website, and here’s what it said: “The Committee (…) decides that [this element] satisfies the criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.” The UNESCO information item also carried a curious clause: “[The Committee] Takes note that lavash is shared by communities in the region and beyond, recalls that inscription on the Representative List does not imply exclusivity and encourages the submitting State when implementing safeguarding measures to remain conscious of the element’s larger cultural context in the region.”

Minutes after the news broke Azerbaijani media made a bit of noise about that. Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Culture announced that they didn’t ‘allow Armenians to Armenify lavash” and due to their efforts next year UNESCO Committee will consider entering lavash into the list of cultural heritage of the whole region.

Soon after the Azerbaijani version of the news spread on all major Russian news outlets.  The haste with which it spread lead me to believe there’s a bit of dollars changing hands.

PS: All of this is such a waste in resources, time and money! Meanwhile, the above video made me hungry for some lavash, I’m going to get some. Help yourselves!

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