Baku, October 4, Interfax - Every meeting of the religious leaders of Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Russia is a step forward in settling the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the head of the Muslim Board of the Caucasus, Sheikhulislam Allahshukur Pasha-zade, said.
"Despite the attempts of certain circles to convert the Karabakh conflict into a religious conflict, the religious leaders of the conflicting sides sitting down to the negotiating table succeeded to a certain extent in preventing the spread of the opinion that it is a conflict between Christians and Muslims," Pasha-zade said to the Azerbaijani state news agency Azertaj.
He said that the talks with Catholicos of all Armenians Karekin II and Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill in Moscow in September were the continuation of meetings held in a similar format since the beginning of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh in 1988.
He expressed the conviction that every meeting, irrespective of its scale, is a step toward settling the conflict.
"We always declare that the Azerbaijani and Armenian peoples will be living next to each other. Therefore, there is no other prospect except peace and cooperation. In these conditions, we as religious leaders, for the sake of the future of our peoples, are responsible for looking for joint responses and should pool efforts to remove contradictions and settle conflicts by peaceful and fair ways," Pasha-zade said.
This should primarily apply to humanitarian problems, he said.
"For instance, at the suggestion of Patriarch Kirill, as part of the latest meeting we determined the powers for releasing civilians that did not take part in hostilities and are innocent victims of the conflict. The question of mutual protection and the inviolability of mosques, churches, and other religious monuments was also raised," he said.
He said that many arguments and mutual accusations were expressed at the Moscow meeting, where the atmosphere was tense.
"The Armenian side agreed with our proposals with great difficulty and tried to end the talks. But the prevention of bloodshed in the region, the settlement of the conflict by peaceful ways is above everything. Therefore, I find it important to hold such trilateral meetings," Pasha-zade said.
"I express my gratitude to Patriarch Kirill for his mediation, for his peacekeeping mission," he said.