Azerbaijan, Baku, 14 May / Trend I. Izzet /
U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan Richard Morningstar visited the Albanian church Jotari the in village of Nij of the Gabala region, where he met with representatives of indigenous peoples residing in the village, the regional TV channel S reported on Tuesday.
The Ambassador met with representatives of the Albanian-Udi Christian community and cultural center "Orain", who informed the guest about the Udis living in the village of Nij.
It was noted that out of nearly 4,000 Udis living in Azerbaijan, 3,700 people are residents of the village of Nij. The village with total population of six million people is a prime example of tolerance. To date, there are three churches and two mosques in the village. Among five schools functioning there, three are of Russian sector, two - Azerbaijani. The Udi language is also being taught in the village, where all the necessary teaching aids are provided.
The Ambassador shared his impressions with the press, saying it was a great trip with very productive meetings and discussions with representatives of the Udi community. The Ambassador noted that from the time when the Udis first settled in Azerbaijan, they have lived in peace and tranquility, which confirms the fact that representatives of every religious and ethnic community as well as indigenous peoples may live in any region of Azerbaijan under conditions of high tolerance and respect.
"It is great when different peoples live together. Peaceful coexistence between Muslims, Christians and Jews is an honorable fact for Azerbaijan," he said.
Nij is one of the foremost areas of settlement of the Udis. The history of this nation goes back to the period of Caucasian Albania. The ancestors of this ethnic group, the Utines, are mentioned in Herodotus' 'History' in V century BC. The Utines are one of 26 Albanian tribes that played a major role in the creation of the Albanian Kingdom.
The Jotari church, closed during the Soviet period, was thoroughly renovated only in 2003 and is currently functioning. The church built in the early 17th century was made of wood.
Morningstar praised the preservation of the culture of different nations.
The Ambassador expressed his gratitude for the historical facts and presented the book about the history of the United States to the rural executive branch. The guest also asked about the customs and traditions of the Udis as well as of relations with other nationalities and peoples.
The Ambassador and his wife lit a candle and prayed in the Jotari church. Then, ambassador was presented a book about the Udis and a calendar as a gift on behalf of the Albanian-Udi Christian community.