Since independence in 1991, Azerbaijan has shown the world its commitment to the restoration of its multi-faith heritage, Head of Foreign Policy Affairs Department of the Presidential Administration, Hikmat Hajiyev said in an interview with Washington Post, Trend reports.
“Baku’s Armenian cathedral, damaged in the chaos of 1990, has been fully restored, now housing a library of some 5,000 precious Armenian manuscripts,” noted Hajiyev, adding that the head of the Armenian Church has been a welcome visitor to the cathedral.
He also said that the Catholic cathedral has been constructed on land donated by the government, and opened by the pope. Old synagogues have been restored and re-opened, and new Jewish schools have been built.
“The administration in which I serve has publicly announced it will restore and rebuild both the Christian and Muslim heritage of this ravaged region — and we now welcome the announcement of UNESCO’s involvement in this project,” said Hajiyev, noting that Azerbaijan found too little of that still in existence in the territories, that were liberated from Armenian occupation in the last month.
“Tragically we can now see with our own eyes the tally of destruction wrought by 30 years of illegal occupation. The well-documented desecration of a mosque converted for use as a cowshed was just the start: 700 historic and cultural monuments damaged or destroyed; 927 libraries; 808 cultural centers; 85 music and art schools; 22 museums with over 100,000 artifacts; 4 art galleries, 4 theatres, 2 concert halls,” said Hajiyev.
He also noted that when Pope Francis visited Baku in 2016, at a meeting of Muslim, Jewish, and Christian leaders, he remarked on “the harmony which religions can build together, based on personal relations and on the goodwill of those responsible”.
“We cannot stop accusations being made that Azerbaijan is a threat to Christian heritage. But why would that be true for the territories newly liberated from 30 years of illegal occupation, when we have nurtured multiple faiths and respectfully restored religious buildings to their former glory in the rest of Azerbaijan over the same 30 years?,” concluded Hajiyev.
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