Religious leaders promise "to defend peacekeeping initiatives to resolve the Nagorno Karabakh conflict"
09 September 2017

The most senior religious leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan have committed to protect the Karabakh peace efforts after meeting in Moscow under the auspices of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.

The meeting, focusing on ways to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was held on 8 September in the Danilov Monastery in Moscow and was attended  by Sheikh-ul-Islam Allahshukur Pashazadeh, Chairman of the Caucasus Muslims Office and Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II.  

The press service of the Moscow Patriarchate said that the meeting was the latest in a series of peace efforts on the Nagorno-Karabakh problem that have been ongoing since 1988. "The first tripartite peacekeeping meeting of the heads of the three religious communities was held in May 1993 in the Moscow Danilov Monastery. Previous tripartite meetings of religious leaders of Russia and Transcaucasia took place within the framework of interreligious forums in 2010 in Baku and 2011 in Yerevan", it stated.

Addressing the meeting, the Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church said "The very fact that this meeting is taking place is the most important testimony to our peoples of the peacekeeping potential of our religions". "Religion can and, I am sure, will play a unifying and reconciling role for the people."

Following the meeting, the sides signed a joint declaration. The declaration says:

"Today, we the spiritual leaders of Azerbaijani and Armenia, once again met in Moscow at the invitation of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, to discuss ways of a peaceful settlement of the Karabakh conflict, without which it is impossible to achieve reconciliation and comprehensive security in the Caucasus.

We attach a special significance to the consistent development of the peacekeeping dialogue, the continuation of the negotiations, and the international community's mediatory efforts which will help to achieve a comprehensive settlement of the conflict.

We are convinced that disagreements can be overcome, relying on the moral values of kindness, love for thy neighbour, mutual forgiveness, and benevolence; propagated by the principles of good-neighbourliness and traditional religions.

The Armenian and Azeri peoples will always live side-by-side, therefore there is no alternative to peace and cooperation. Facing many challenges, we, the spiritual leaders of our nations, are obliged to seek joint responses.

Together, we are called to care for the poor and the afflicted, to testify about the spiritual and moral values, and seek a peaceful and just way of resolving conflicts.

We appeal to our people to bring up and educate the youth in the spirit of goodwill and mutual respect, peace and traditional morality.

We, as spiritual leaders, express our readiness to defend the peacekeeping initiatives to resolve the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. The history of the trilateral meetings of the spiritual leaders testifies to the positive impact of such contacts on the conflict settlement process, which should never turn into a religious conflict. We have great hopes in the negotiation process. The responsibility and duty towards our people motivate us to pursue tireless and consistent efforts for the long-awaited victory of the ideals of peace and goodness. We are ready to use all available opportunities for the peace in the region.

We convey to all our community children peace, welfare and success in their endeavours. We offer our prayers to the Almighty to overcome disagreements and to protect our people from evil and sin. May on the ancient and sacred land of the Caucasus be established blessed peace, and the people of our countries will live in peace and harmony and by God-given moral laws.

The delegation of the Armenian Apostolic Holy Church, led by His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians; and the delegation of the Caucasus Muslims Administration, led by Sheikh ul-Islam Allahshukur Pashazade; express special gratitude to the Russian Orthodox Church and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia for the organization of the trilateral meeting for the important contribution to a peace settlement in the Caucasus and wish His Holiness the support of the Almighty to continue this godly mission."

source: with the press service of the Patriarchate of Moscow and All Russia and agencies