They have tried threats. They have tried PR. And now, 22 years into the search for a Nagorno-Karabakh peace settlement, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia are turning to the power of faith.
The head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Catholicos Garegin II, and Azerbaijan’s Muslim leader, Sheikh-ul-Islam Allahshukur Pashazade, met on April 26. The 90-minute discussion -- facilitated by Kirill I, the Russian Orthodox patriarch -- marked the sixth such tête-à-tête between the religious leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan since 1988, when the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict began.
More significantly, the meeting, held on the sidelines of the World Interfaith Summit, marked Garegin II’s first-ever trip to Baku. A protest conducted by the Karabakh Liberation Organization in front of the summit site at Baku’s Gulistan Palace reflected the discomfort in some sectors of Azerbaijani society generated by Garegin II’s presence. A group of women, mostly family members of Azerbaijanis killed during the Karabakh conflict, held posters depicting war victims to protest the Armenian Catholicos’ arrival.
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Mina Muradova is a freelance reporter based in Baku.