Azerbaijan, Baku, July 7 / Trend T. Jafarov /
Supporting the construction of churches in Azerbaijan's occupied territories is equivalent to backing Armenian separatism, Azerbaijani State Committee for Work with Religious Associations Hidayat Orujov told media today. The Holy Virgin Protection Russian Orthodox Church is currently being built in Nagorno Karabakh.
Orujev added that it is illegal to build a church in the occupied territories without Azerbaijan's permission. The foundation-laying ceremony was held June 19.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan since 1992, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts. Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994.
The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group - Russia, France, and the United States - are currently holding the peace negotiations.
Armenia has not yet implemented the U.N. Security Council's resolutions on the liberation of the Nagorno-Karabakh region and the occupied territories.