Azerbaijan’s religious leader urges Armenia to take constructive position to reach peace

By: Sara Rajabova

Head of the Caucasus Muslims Office called on Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II to convince the Armenian authorities to withdraw their troops from the occupied Azerbaijani territories and take constructive position in the peace talks.

Sheikh ul-Islam Allahshukur Pashazadeh made the remark in response to a letter by Karekin II released on August 11, Caucasus Muslims Office said.

Armenian religious leader called on Sheikh to take part in de-escalation process of the current situation at the contact line of Armenian-Azerbaijani troops which heightened in late July.

Pashazadeh regretfully brought to the attention of Karekin II the firefights and provocative actions are taking place in the Azerbaijani lands.

The Armenian armed forces aggravated tensions along the frontline by attacking the Azerbaijani positions. Armenia began to escalate the tensions on the border areas on July 31. Sporadic fighting has continued ever since. Fourteen Azerbaijani servicemen were killed and several others injured during the clashes between two sides.

Armenia hasn’t released yet the exact number of casualties.

Pashazadeh noted that Azerbaijani soldiers, as well as civilians are killed or wounded as a result of violation of cease-fire by Armenian armed forces.

“With pain in our hearts, we inform you that in the last few days the Armenian soldiers seriously injured three children in the border villages of Azerbaijan,” he said.

Pashazadeh stressed the necessity of putting an end not only to the current provocations, but also generally to the long-lasting war and territorial conflict in general.

He urged the Armenian politicians to take a constructive position and show good will to establish a just and sustainable peace.

“Such an approach is in the interest of all Armenians, whose vast majority is in favor of a peaceful resolution of the conflict,” Pashazadeh noted.

“The people of Azerbaijan are unequivocally in favor of the restoration of peace and good-neighborly relations and international laws in the region. For its realization, Armenia should withdraw its troops from the occupied Azerbaijani territories and refugees and internally displaced persons should return to their homes,” Pashazadeh said.

Azerbaijani people have been waiting for the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with patienceover the last twenty years, according to Pashazadeh.

Sheikh ul-Islam regretted that peaceful appeals of the Azerbaijani state and the public have not still been heard by Armenia. “In contrast, the Armenian forces not only continue the occupation, but also systematically violate the ceasefire and kill the civilians,” he said.

He voiced hope that the peaceful initiatives of religious leaders will benefit the people of the two countries.

For over two decades, Azerbaijan and Armenia have been locked in conflict which emerged after Armenia’s territorial claims against its South Caucasus neighbor.

Since a war in the early 1990s, Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding regions. A fragile ceasefire has been in place since 1994, but long-standing efforts by US, Russian and French mediators have been largely fruitless so far.

Armenia has not yet implemented the U.N. Security Council’s four resolutions on its pullout from the neighboring country’s territories.