Chairman of the Caucasian Muslims' Board Sheik ul-Islam Allahshukur Pashazade’s interview to APA’s Russia correspondent about trilateral meeting of Azerbaijani, Russian and Armenian religious leaders held on September 8 in Moscow
- Yesterday, a meeting of Azerbaijani, Russian and Armenian religious leaders was held. Only Patriarch Kirill held briefing about the result of the meeting. How do you assess the results of the meeting?
- Bismillahirrahmanirrahim (In the name of Allah, the beneficent the merciful)! I think the trilateral meeting was helpful. Generally, meeting of Azerbaijani, Russian and Armenian religious leaders is positive. Such meetings will have positive impact on relations among the peoples. The meeting once more shows that there is no any alternative to peaceful settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh. This conflict should be settled within the international law. Armenian Catholicos Karekin II made accusations. We also noted our right position. I spoke about Azerbaijanis captivated by Armenia, issue of Dilgam Asgarov and said this conflict is in Azerbaijani lands.
Armenian Catholicos often reminded April incidents. I said these incidents occurred in Azerbaijani lands and Azerbaijan wants to release its lands.
Moreover, I raised the question about situation of religious monuments, mosques which are under occupation. I spoke about the situation of religious monuments and mosques not only in Nagorno Karabakh and seven regions, but also in current Armenia. I said I have preached in most of these mosques. But, those mosques don’t exist now.
In turn, the Armenian Catholicos claimed that Armenian Church in Baku is in bad situation. As a response, I invited Patriarch Kirill to Baku as a mediator between the Azerbaijani and Armenian peoples to get familiar with the situation of the church and inform to Karekin II.
I clearly said that neither we nor you will leave this region. We’ll live together. Therefore, the religious leaders should help normalization of relations between our peoples.
I told Karekin that Armenia should firstly liberate the seven regions around Nagorno Karabakh. This process should start slightly. Thereafter, heads of states, politicians may consider the status of Nagorno Karabakh issue, of course within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.
- Was any decision made about continuation of such meetings in the future?
- I’ve note that Patriarch Kirill is interested in peaceful settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. He played great role in holding of this meeting. I’d like this meeting to be continued. However, we should get result from these meetings. We offered to organize meetings of Azerbaijani and Armenian religious leaders. For example, one meeting in Azerbaijan’s Gazakh, another in Armenia. Although we - religious leaders have no authority, we decided to be more active. However, we can morally influence our peoples, at the same time, heads of states.
It was offered to create a group consisting of religious figures of Azerbaijan, Russia and Armenia. We discussed this issue at my meeting with Patriarch Kirill. Russian side will discuss this with Armenian side. This group will engage in morally helping while the ceasefire is violated and etc. I think this suggestion will yield result.
- Armenian Catholicos Karekin accused Azerbaijan of aggression. His speech was like a politician more than a religious man…
- All Karekin’s claims were answered in press conference and closed meeting. It was good that he made speech firstly. Then I answered all his claims.
I told him that if we will live together in the future, we must carry out certain works, take steps jointly. Otherwise, the end of this conflict will not be good. One of reasons of conflicts in the Near East, Burma is that the religious men did not interfere in time. If Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict does not come to an end, this conflict will spread to Caucasus. There are powers who want this conflict to be religious. We must not allow it. Otherwise, this will be unpreventable.
- The final declaration envisages release of captives. How did Karekin II react when you raised this question?
- Kareking said nothing about this issue. The main issue was to include the release of captives in the final declaration. Importance of release of civilians was noted in the declaration. Armenian Catholicos signed this declaration. It was very important to include in the declaration the release of captives and protection of religious monuments and mosques. I hope these issues will not remain only on the paper and we’ll not return to the beginning again.