The Islamic leader of Azerbaijan and the Grand Mutfi of the Caucasus, Allahshukur Hummat Pashazade, in recent remarks said that there were provocative intentions behind efforts to restore a mosque in Shushi, Artsakh.
He also expressed his intentions to address the issue with His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians during an upcoming religious summit between religious leaders of Russia, Georgia Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The government of Artsakh was quick to point out that it has continuously undertaken efforts to restore and preserve all historic monuments.
“People in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) always feel committed to preserve and restore historical monuments regardless of their ethnic or religious origin,” David Babayan, the spokesperson of the Nagorno-Karabakh president said Thursday, commenting on Pashazadeh’s statement.
“We are renovating an architectural monument, which has absolutely nothing to do with provocation or anything of the kind. We are not like them [the Azerbaijanis] to vandalize Armenian khachkars (cross-stones) in Julfa,” Babayan told Tert.am referencing the mass destruction of Armenian Khachkars by Azerbaijanis in Julfa, in the Nakhichevan region.
Babayan said he would hail the proposed religious summit “if it is going to really contribute to peace. But in case [the Azerbaijani religious leader] unfolds demands for the return of 20 percent of territories, it will just be yet another meeting,” he added.
Admitting that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has no religious background, Babayan said he nonetheless believes that it may influence public sentiments, dispelling the existing tension and Armenophobia in Azerbaijan.
“Our society is not guiding itself by fascist and Nazi approaches. The very idea to renovate the mosque bears witness to a tolerant atmosphere here,” he added.