Last week a trilateral meeting of religious leaders of Azerbaijan, Russia and Armenia was held in Moscow. The meeting focused on the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The meeting also drew attention to the destruction of religious monuments and mosques in Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding districts. It was also proposed that a meeting of religious leaders be held at the Azerbaijani-Armenian border.
The statement signed at the end of the meeting of the religious leaders stressed that Azerbaijani hostages Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev be released. But will the statements made in the meeting have the desired logical outcome?
Member of Parliament, political scientist Aydin Mirzazade told "Kaspi" that the meeting of religious leaders was held at the initiative of the Russian side: "I believe that Russia's initiative in this matter is commendable. The meeting of religious leaders is primarily the preparation of societies for the solution of this painful problem and the importance of resolving the conflict within the framework of international law. The occupation of the Azerbaijani lands by Armenia, including the illegally taken hostages of our two citizens remains unchanged. The religious representative of Azerbaijan talked about the occupation factor and the fact that more than a million Azerbaijanis are refugees and IDPs as a result of it. Unfortunately, the stance of Armenian religious leader, resembling that of Armenian leadership, was rather aggressive. The main duty of the religious figure is to promote spirituality, peace, and humanism. Armenian religious leader II Garegin spoke of April events, aggression of Azerbaijan and other issues. It was as if he was not a religious figure, but a generals of the Armenian army or an aggressive political figure. Of course, it means that the Azerbaijani and Armenian societies approach the issue from different perspectives. Despite all the attempts of the Armenian side, the final statement at the end of the meeting called for the liberation of lands and the issue of hostages. It is advisable to hold such meetings from time to time. It highlights the painful problem of Azerbaijan on the one hand and the non-constructive position of the Armenian side on the other".
Touching upon the return of captives Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev after that meeting, Mirzazade said that it is difficult to say anything concrete about it for now: "Not only does II Garage but even the Armenian President may sign a document, but easily denounce it the next day. The Armenian side has always acted in a non-serious manner. Therefore, despite Garegin II signing the statement of the religious leaders, we still have to continue to work for the release of Kalibajar hostages".
Political scientist Fikret Sadikhov said that such meetings had been held between the religious leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia several times: "Of course, religious leaders can meet and discuss as other public figures. Naturally, the Armenian side should draw some conclusions from these meetings. Let me note that the influence of the Armenian Church on its people and diaspora is very great. Therefore, much depends on the true, objective approach of the Armenian religious figures in this issue. A statement was made about the release of hostages at the meeting of the religious leaders. This is actually a call that suits the reality. Because Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev were taken hostages in the occupied Azerbaijani lands.
Another point here is that in the future, the meeting of religious leaders could have created a positive backdrop to the meeting of the Azerbaijani and Armenian foreign ministers. But, unfortunately, that wasn't the outcome from the meeting of religious figures. Because both Armenian officials, public figures, and religious leaders demonstrate a very unconstructive position. At such meetings held by the Russian patriarch, Azerbaijan is able to express her position and Russia and Armenia get to listen to it. I think these are positive aspects of the meetings".
Sadikhov added that the Armenian religious leaders have never been peacekeepers: "Armenians have always held harsh stances, unlike other religious leaders. Their focus on the dreams of "Great Armenia" and the hostility towards the Nagorno-Karabakh problem have never changed. We just have to confront them with facts. At the same meeting, religious leader of Azerbaijan, Allahshukur Pashazadeh, brought enough attention to the Karabakh issue. There is no point to expect a compromise from the Armenians, no need to wait for peace calls, it hasn't happened before and won't happen in the future ".
The political scientist noted that the Armenian religious leader II Garegin could achieve the release of Azerbaijani hostages Asgarov and Guliyev: "If this issue is reflected in the statement signed by him, then some steps need to be taken. For this, the Armenian religious leader must put pressure on the military and political circles in Armenia and separatist regime. But I do not really believe in the sincerity of the Armenian religious leader. In general, it is difficult to say anything about this issue, time will tell ".