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Russian Orthodox Church head calls on religious leaders to help resolve Karabakh conflict

Orthodox and Muslim representatives can help politicians resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Patriarch Kirill said

MOSCOW, January 30. /TASS/. Orthodox and Muslim representatives can help politicians to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia said at a meeting with Sheikh ul-Islam Allahshukur Pashazade, head of the Muslim Board for the Caucasus and co-chair of the CIS Interreligious Council, and Azerbaijan’s delegation.

"Had everything depended on clerics, I think we would have solved the issue long ago. But it does not hinge upon just us, so this joint opinion will have a favorable effect on politicians, urging them to solve the issue peacefully and for mutual satisfaction," the Russian Orthodox Church’s head said.

The highland region of Nagorno-Karabakh (Mountainous Karabakh) is a mostly Armenian-populated enclave inside the sovereign territory of Azerbaijan. It was the first zone of inter-ethnic tensions and violence to appear on the map of the former USSR in February 1988. Then, the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region declared independence from Azerbaijan, a republic within the Soviet Union at the time. In 1992-1994, hostilities broke out in the region between pro-Baku forces and Armenian residents, which resulted in the Nagorno-Karabakh’s de facto independence. In 1994, a ceasefire was reached but the relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia have been strained since then.

Russia, France and the US co-chair the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which attempts to broker an end to hostilities and the conflict.