YEREVAN—In a statement issued Monday, the leaders of the Russian and Armenian churches joined the leader of the Caucasus Muslims in calling for an end to sniper attacks on the Karabakh-Azerbaijan border, ahead of the conference of Inter-Religious Council of the CIS.
“We strongly urge the leaders of the two countries to pull back the snipers from the line of contact to avoid bloodshed at the border and human losses,” said the joint declaration signed by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians and the Leader of Caucasus Muslims Sheikh-Ul-Islam Allahshükür Pashazade.
“The three parties express their commitment to the peaceful resolution of the Karabakh conflict and declare that a resolution is possible only within the framework of international law. In that regard we support the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group,” added the declaration.
“We attach importance to the regime of non-use of force, which inspires people with optimism regarding the final resolution of the Karabakh issue,” added the declaration.
“If the bloodshed ends, the psychological situation will change, and this will make the resolution of the conflict easier,” said the religious leaders in the declaration.
Speaking athe CIS Inter-Religious Council meeting, President Serzh Sarkisian said that destruction of historic and religious monuments, under the guise of conflict, is unacceptable.
“The conflict is not a religious one, and all attempts to ascribe a religious nature to it are unconstructive. The two great religions – Christianity and Islam – should not be allowed to confront each other. Moreover, we consider that the destruction of historic and religious monuments under the cover of the conflict is unacceptable,” said Sarkisian.
“The CIS Inter-Religious Council is a unique collective force, which symbolizes the power of peaceful co-existence of different religions, their tolerance and reciprocal respect for each other,” added Sarkisian.
“Armenia has made a historic and irreversible decision to develop in the spirit of cooperation with its neighbors, friends and all humanity. We consider that all issues should be resolved through negotiations and cooperation, not threats and increase of tension. We have always been ready to offer our friendship even not being sure we would get a positive response. No doubt, the disappointment after such a serious decision can be despairing,” said Sarkisian.
“You know that the conflict of Nagorno Karabakh is our great pain. The only realistic solution is the negotiation process within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group. Armenia will steadily move along that path, since the alternative to it will not benefit neither us, nor the neighboring nation,” explained Sarkisian.
He stressed that negotiation on such a serious and complex issue requires patience and adherence to principles.
The president also welcomed the dialogue between the Catholicos of All Armenians, His Holiness Karekin II, and the Leader of Caucasian Muslims Allahshükür Pashazade, which is mediated by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.
The Muslim leader also echoed Sarkisian’s sentiments, saying that “the dialogue should continue, although the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group have not produced results.”
“The efforts toward the peaceful resolution of the Karabakh conflict should continue both on regional and international levels. We fully support the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs and the Presidents of our countries in that direction,” said Pashazade.
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia also voiced confidence that the meeting of the religious leaders will reinforce friendly ties between members of the Inter-Religious Council.