Azerbaijan Archbishop: Our holy mission is to keep peace

US-based Christianity Today newspaper has published an article on the establishment of peace in the region after the end of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict.

The article contains the views of head of the Russian Orthodox Church in Baku Archbishop Alexander on the conflict and his calls for assistance in the process of establishing lasting peace in the region.

Author Jason Casper writes that the trilateral statement on a ceasefire signed in November 2020 put an end to the six-week war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. He notes that Azerbaijan, returned the rest of its internationally recognized territory, including the historic city of Shusha.

“Azerbaijanis returning to Aghdam, left in ruins by Armenian occupation for 25 years, will see for the first time the damage to their city. Its mosque was relabeled “Persian,” while 63 of Nagorno-Karabakh’s 67 mosques were razed to the ground. Azerbaijan, having liberated the territories, pledged to preserve Christian religious monuments,” Archbishop Alexander says.

“Meanwhile, members of Azerbaijan’s Christian Udi minority were dispatched to hold services in the ninth-century Dadivank Monastery. The Udi are related to the Caucasian Albanian Christians, assimilated into other ethnic groups a thousand years ago. But Azerbaijan maintains the churches of the region are actually Albanian, and not Armenian in origin,” the article mentions.

“Of Azerbaijan’s population of 10 million, 96 percent are Muslim. Alexander’s Russian Orthodox represent two-thirds of Christians, while thousands of Jews live in the country,” the author says.

“Thirty years ago, many Armenians lived here in Azerbaijan, and they had their own churches where they could pray. Peoples in the same geographical areas have to find ways to live together, and not focus on their differences. This is the main principle for how future relations between these two nations can be built. France, Germany, and Poland are an example. They endured many wars, but now they are all in one European Union.

Transportation networks can be built, helping Armenian development. Political, economic, and cultural areas of cooperation exist with the South Caucasus nation of Georgia. Azerbaijan has repeatedly invited Armenia into this network, with the one condition of returning the occupied territories,” Archbishop Alexander notes.

Rejecting the statements by Armenians that they are allegedly subjected to "genocide", Archbishop Alexander says: “But when the word genocide is used, we should be very careful. We have very sad facts about the actions of Armenian forces on the territory of Azerbaijan. We have thousands of Azerbaijanis killed from the Armenian side, so to whom should we address the word genocide?

Azerbaijan has a high level of multicultural acceptance and preserves its religious monuments. The Armenian churches and libraries in Baku are kept safe. In the case of a peace agreement, these can be used again, as they should. This will also help the spiritual and religious reconciliation. Baku had a whole Armenian quarter in the Soviet era, living in better condition than other citizens,” the head of the Russian Orthodox Church in Baku emphasizes.

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