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Caucasus needs divine forces2011-10-14 16:04
Austria plans to organize a meeting between religious leaders of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia. Baku Declaration signed between Patriarch Kirill, Catholicos of All Armenians Gareghin II and Chairman of the Caucasian Muslims Office Sheyhulislam Gadzhi last year confirms the desire of spiritual leaders to pursue an inter-religious dialogue in a globalizing world. Thus, an attempt to activize the state-church tandem takes settlement of the Nagorny Karabakh issue to a new level.
Last year the All-world summit of religious leaders was held in Baku. According to its final declaration signed by patriarch Kirill, catholicos Gareghin II and Sheihuislam Gadzhi Alashukyur Pashadze, the influence of church on state decisions is increasing. Unfortunately, Ilia II was not present because of ill health, though it is possible to assume that his participation would hardly bring serious changes in the Russian-Georgian dialogue. As we know, Sakartvelo's spiritual leader mainly supports Mikheil Saakashvili's policies and is skeptical about Gareghin II whom he considers not experienced enough to be occupied in such serious affairs.
The smoldering conflict in Karabakh is likely to flare up again if the Azerbaijani-Armenian dialogue is misinterpreted. The problem is aggravated by the fact that Nagorny Karabakh referred to as "a territory occupied by Armenia" in Baku, is Orthodox. Thus, return of breakaway territories to Muslim Azerbaijan won't be an easy task. The All-world summit among the clergy must facilitate reconciliation in the post-Soviet space. After all these republics used to be one family not long ago. "We are committed to sow peace and multiply the blessing as part of our mission of religious leaders. From the first day of the conflict we applied efforts to restore peace in Nagorny Karabakh", - Gareghin II remarked then.
Last year's document shows that with mediation of the Russian Orthodox Church and its close ties with the Caucasian Muslims Office, Armenian Apostolic Church and Islamic spiritual leaders, the conflict did not turn into inter-religious confrontation. "The potential of religion that calls for peace, compassion, patience must be a force of reconciliation. We believe that our joint efforts will help overcome the inter-ethnic hostility. It is vitally important to avoid military methods of solving disputable questions. We will preserve people's hope for elimination of current schisms, obstacles and hostility with our peacekeeping attempts, since the war, if continued, will have no end... May the blessed land of Caucasus enjoy stable and lasting peace, and our nations inherit well-being and prosperity".
This year Austria decided to make another attempt to invite religious leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia to negotiating table with Georgia's mediation. The problem of national and religious minorities in Caucasian republics is rather acute. Armenian president Serge Sargsyan and Javakh diaspora have repeatedly called on Mikheil Saakashvili to sort out the status of the Armenian church and language in the Georgian society. Problems of ethnic Azerbaijanis in Kvemo Kartli and Kakhetia are also ignored in official Baku.
In addition to religious problems, Gareghin II, Sheihulislam Gadzhi and Ilia II plan to discuss the Karabakh conflict, energy cooperation and economic issues. Azerbaijan, whose share in the economy of Caucasus is 80%, has suggestions to make to his neighbors. Yet, tension between Serge Sargsyan and Ilham Aliev brings mutual interest to zero. Probably, spiritual leaders will help to move the dialogue off the dead center.