France, Strasbourg, Jan. 28 / Trend A. Maharramli /
Azerbaijan attaches great importance to a dialogue between religions and cultures, Ganira Pashayeva, a member of the Azerbaijani Delegation to PACE, said while discussing the report, "Violence Against Christians in the Middle East."
The MP told European Mps about the great work done by the Azerbaijani government and the Heydar Aliyev Foundation in this area.
"We must try to promote a dialogue among religions and cultures. I want to mention Azerbaijan as an example. Azerbaijan is a bridge between East and West. It attaches great importance to this issue; therefore, there are good relations between Muslims, Christians and Jews in Azerbaijan. Of course, it is also important for the future of our citizens, state and nation. Despite the fact that there are mostly Muslims in Azerbaijan, after gaining independence, churches and synagogues destroyed by the Soviet regime were rebuilt and restored and handed over to Christian and Jewish communities. Azerbaijan has held serious work in this area," she added.
She said that despite the occupation of 20 percent of Azerbaijani territory by Armenia - more than one million refugees and internally displaced people, the Azerbaijani people did not touch the Armenian church in Baku.
"Today, thousands of Armenians live in Azerbaijan. Unfortunately, we cannot observe a similar situation in Armenia, which is a member of the Council of Europe. Armenia destroyed all the mosques and cultural monuments of Azerbaijan. Moreover, all the religious and historical sites were destroyed in the occupied Azerbaijani territories. This process continues till today," she stressed.
MP Aydin Abbasov noted that despite attempts by certain separatist groups to use the religious factor and the economic, environmental and demographic problems of the 20th century, Azerbaijan continues demonstrating a unique example of people living together in peace and tranquility.
"Azerbaijan plays a role as a bridge between Asia and Europe. I would like to bring to attention the fact that Azerbaijan is a member of the Council of Europe within 10 years. At the same time, it is a member of the Organization of Islamic Conference," he noted.
Nov. 16 has been marked in Azerbaijan as the Day of Tolerance since 1999. The president annually congratulates all religious communities with their main holidays.
"We must use all opportunities for joint activities. We must not create disagreements among people and religions. We should reduce the distance between them," Abbasov said.