Baku. Ramiz Mikayiloghlu – APA. The visit of Pope Francis to Azerbaijan is a historic event, said Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev.
President Aliyev made the remarks during the meeting of Pope Francis with representatives of the Azerbaijani government, public and diplomatic corps at the Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku Oct. 2.
“Your Holiness, first of all, I sincerely greet you in Azerbaijan and welcome your delegation,” said the Azerbaijani president.
“During the meeting in Vatican last year, I invited you to Azerbaijan and I am very glad that you accepted my invitation and visited our country,” said Ilham Aliyev. “This is a historic visit.”
The president noted that this visit will make a huge contribution to the development of relations between Azerbaijan and the Vatican.
“This visit also shows that the dialogue among civilizations exists,” said Ilham Aliyev. “An exhibition dedicated to Azerbaijan was held in Vatican museums, and it was the first exhibition of a Muslim country.”
The president stressed that representatives of all religions and nations have lived in Azerbaijan in peace for centuries.
Azerbaijan has historically played a role of a bridge between the East and the West, he added.
“One of the oldest mosques in the word, the Juma Mosque of Shamakhi is situated in Azerbaijan,” said Ilham Aliyev. “In addition, one of the oldest churches in the world, the Church of Caucasian Albania, as well as the ancient temple of fire worshippers are also situated in Azerbaijan.”
“The Catholic church in Baku was opened in 2008. The church, which was built in 1912 in Baku, was destroyed by the Soviet government in 1934,” the president recalled.
“The independent Azerbaijani state decided to rebuild the church Baku and today, in the morning, Your Holiness held a religious ceremony in this church. We have eliminated the historical injustice,” said Ilham Aliyev.
The president noted that the relationship between religions and nations in Azerbaijan can be an example.
“We have put forward many initiatives. Baku Process, which is one of them, started in 2008,” he said.
The president emphasized that Azerbaijan is among few countries which is a member of both the Council of Europe and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
“We invited representatives of the Council of Europe to the meeting of the ministers of the culture of the OIC member states held in Baku in 2009,” he said.
“We hold the Baku International Humanitarian Forum. The World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue is held in Baku every two years,”’ said President Aliyev, noting that the main goal of these events is to prevent a religious confrontation.
“As a result of all that activity, Baku hosted the 7th Global Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations,” he added.