Ravan Hasanov, the executive director of Baku International Multiculturalism Center, made remarkable statements to our newspaper on the subject.
Hasanov noted that peace, tranquility and stability that have always been present in the Azerbaijani society became particularly stronger after the victory of the glorious Azerbaijani army under the leadership of Victorious Supreme Commander-in-Chief Ilham Aliyev, and emphasized that, for years, the state of Azerbaijan has been laying the foundations for a dialogue based on mutual respect and love in society. The Azerbaijani official drew attention to the fact that during the 44-day Patriotic War, all the children of the Homeland, regardless of their religious, political or racial identity, took up arms, fought for the Homeland, fell martyrs or were wounded or physically disabled, with their Homeland being the only thing on their mind throughout.
According to him, the children of the Homeland, who liberated Shusha and other occupied lands with their bare hands, teeth and nails, even at the risk of death, will live in those liberated territories with the same enthusiasm and desire and turn these places into a paradise once again: “During visits to the areas liberated from occupation, President, Victorious Supreme Commander-in-Chief Ilham Aliyev says this region will develop, grow and become unrecognizable in a short time, and points out how these lands were razed to the ground by the Armenians. Everything you can think of has been torn down by the Armenians, who have destroyed cities, villages, towns and all the historical and cultural monuments in that region. This is not a claim. We all witnessed how shocked the local and foreign media representatives, politicians and NGO leaders were when they visited those regions. But we will restore the cities, villages and towns in Karabakh and create a paradise there. Our unity and togetherness will give us the strength to achieve this. The whole world can be rest assured of it, including even the forces that have so far approached this issue with double standards.”
Ravan Hasanov added that these actions were the best response to those who wanted to present our holy Patriotic War to the world as an interfaith war: “This war was for our Homeland. Our glorious army eliminated the fact of occupation, which the world had ignored for years, and righted this wrong on its own. Here, too, an important factor was the love for the Homeland of our citizens of all religious and ethnic backgrounds. We are not a mono‑ethnic state, unlike Armenia. Various ethnic and religious groups have lived in Azerbaijan in peace and tranquility for centuries. But Armenia destroys all the monuments belonging to the Islamic culture in the region and tries to Armenianize the monuments of Caucasian Albania, that is, the Kipchak Turks. It’s simply an act of barbarism, and I think the whole world should see it.”
We are proud of our Homeland heroes of different ethnic and religious backgrounds.
Ravan Hasanov, the executive director of Baku International Multiculturalism Center, noted that, among our Homeland heroes, we have heroes from different religious and ethnic backgrounds who fought for the just cause of Azerbaijan, and the state and people remember these heroic children of our Homeland with respect and gratitude. According to Hasanov, the heroism of Albert Agarunov, Yuri Kovalyov, who were heroically martyred in the First Karabakh War, as well as Dimitri Solnchev, who was martyred during the Second Karabakh War, can never be forgotten, and we will always remember those heroes for the entire period of eternal independence of our country. Because they sacrificed their lives for the sake of our Motherland, flag and land. Their memories will always live in our hearts…
Azerbaijani foreign policy expert: “Multiculturalism and tolerance are the most important factors that brought Azerbaijan to where it is today”
Since gaining its independence, Azerbaijan has always respected the values that historically existed within its borders, strived to keep them alive, and preserved its multiculturalism. Our country has always pursued a policy of promoting multiculturalism and dialogue as a state policy and has never encountered any problems in this regard. On the contrary, all ethnic and religious communities living in Azerbaijan have always seen this country as their Homeland, and they continue to work non-stop for its development, growth and strengthening.
We witnessed this during the 44-day war: all the citizens of Azerbaijan living on these lands fought shoulder-to-shoulder to free Karabakh from occupation and gave martyrs. We had many citizens of different ethnic and religious backgrounds who were martyred in the First and Second Karabakh Wars, and we always bow to them with gratitude.
Talking to our magazine on this topic, Ogtay Hajimusali, news writer, foreign policy expert and authorized representative of Baku International Multiculturalism Center in Turkey, said Azerbaijan has extensive experience in multiculturalism, tolerance and interfaith and interethnic dialogue. He stressed that despite the environment of conflict between cultures and beliefs around the world, Azerbaijan has worked for years and organized various international panels and conferences on this subject in Baku.
Hajimusali pointed out that, at these international panels and conferences, guests from different countries of the world praised the atmosphere of multiculturalism and dialogue in Azerbaijan that can be shown as an example to the world, and noted that despite the suspension of the meetings during the pandemic, a new set of truths have come to light, especially after the victory in the 44-day war. The foreign policy expert emphasized that even the foreign visitors were shocked and horrified when they personally saw the destruction of cultural monuments during their visit to the liberated lands after the victory, and added that unlike Azerbaijan, Armenians destroyed everything in Karabakh. “There was almost no stone left on stone in the lands returned to Azerbaijan after the trilateral declaration signed on November 10 or in the regions liberated from occupation. In a sense, it is understandable that the Armenians, who build their lives on Islamophobia so to speak, attacked mosques, inns, public baths, khanqahs, zawiyas, madrasas and graves with resentment and hatred.
However, the fact that the Armenians destroyed the churches belonging to the ancient Christian Albanian Turks is an incomprehensible behavior. It is already quite absurd to even be resentful of the religion of Islam, Muslim traditions and customs. But let’s say, we can associate this with the resentment and hatred of Armenians towards Turks, hence Muslims, which is not reasonable in its own turn. But what about the replacement of the crosses in churches and monasteries?! Not even one historical or cultural monument survived the Armenians safely. They damaged and destroyed all of them. Yes, the state of Azerbaijan and Mr. President Ilham Aliyev, during his visits to the liberated regions, have noted that Karabakh can be made even more beautiful in a short time than it was before the occupation. Yes, Karabakh will turn into a paradise and return to its former beauty. But we must never forget about the values destroyed by the Armenians and the damage they inflicted on our cultural monuments. While Armenians committed these acts, all the churches, temples and monasteries, mosques and other religious, spiritual and cultural monuments in Azerbaijan were taken under protection, and they are protected by the state. This is due to our respect for the world culture and universal values, and we are always proud of such an attitude and approach of ours.”
Recalling the messages given by Azerbaijan to the world for the maintenance of global peace, tranquility and stability through all international institutions and organizations, the Azerbaijani foreign policy expert said we have to mention the name of Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva, First Vice-President of Azerbaijan and President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, in this connection. Hajimusali stated that the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, headed by Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva, is very sensitive to this issue and has always placed emphasis on the rich cultural values of Azerbaijan, the unity of the peoples in the world, and the importance of mutual relations. He concluded his statement with the following important point: “The recognition of Azerbaijan as a country of stability in a period of increasing military and political conflicts, political polarization, Islamophobia and racism in the world is due to the success of our country in the field of tolerance and multiculturalism. The saying of the national leader Heydar Aliyev that “a country is enriched with its multiculturalism, because each ethnic group contributes to the world culture and civilization” shows the reality enjoyed by all citizens of our country, regardless of language or race. This reality will further strengthen in the future and will enable our people, who were united as a single body with the victory in Karabakh, to achieve even greater success.”
Nobody can divide us, especially the Armenians … Never …
Speaking to our newspaper on the subject, Rafik Danakari, deputy head of the Caucasian Udi‑Albanian Christian community, noted that today, the Udis, like all religious communities in Azerbaijan, have all the necessary conditions for practicing their religion properly. Danakari said they are happy to live in Azerbaijan, they were forcibly incorporated into the Armenian Gregorian Church by the Tzarist Russia, their entire history was destroyed by the Armenians, this policy of assimilation continued during the Soviet era and they were only able to breathe comfortably after Azerbaijan gained its independence. He stated that after the glorious victory in Karabakh, historical and divine justice was served, and the Udis were reunited with all the Albanian Christian monuments, churches and monasteries in Karabakh. The community official said they had first visited the Khudavang monastery liberated from occupation, and then organized trips to the Agoglan and Tug monasteries located in Khojavend and Lachin, respectively: “Every time I look at those old temples, where our ancestors once worshiped and held rituals, and I see how those places were turned into ruins, I cannot help but think about what a barbaric people the Armenians are. Some people say the Armenians were just trying to destroy Turkish and Muslim culture and identity, but I assure you that they are wrong. Because I can easily explain to them not only what the Armenians did to the heritage of my ancestors, but also what they did to us. Think about it, we, the Udis, live in the village of Nij in the Gabala district. Our entire identity was destroyed after we were incorporated into the Armenian Gregorian Church during the period of the Tzarist Russia. They tried to alienate our people from religion and church. We, the Udis, do not know what the historical Albanian monument built in 1723 – Chotari Church of St Elisha – looked like before. Because everything related to our history, culture and identity was collected and taken to the archives of the Armenian Gregorian Church, probably to Echmiadzin. This is how we suffered from the dirty tricks of the Armenians.”
We worshiped in a ruined monastery in the Tug village.
Rafik Danakari, deputy head of the Caucasian Udi-Albanian Christian community, said they visited the ancient Albanian temples in the liberated Tug village last Saturday and were forced to worship in ruins there. He stressed that the situation was not encouraging in the churches and temples they previously visited, either, as the Armenians had changed the crosses and altars in those temples, churches and monasteries: “But, thankfully, under the leadership of our Victorious Commander-in-Chief Ilham Aliyev and with the moral support of our Turkey, our glorious army liberated our lands from occupation, and our President himself said: We will turn Karabakh into a paradise. We truly believe in this. We also believe that our cultural monuments in Karabakh will be restored, and during our next visits we will see the places of worship of our ancestors as beautiful restored temples. All our churches and temples are under the protection of our state. Long live our State, which enables us to worship on our liberated lands in Karabakh! We are part of the multiculturalism and cultural wealth that exists in Azerbaijan, and we are proud of it. Nobody can divide us. Especially the Armenians… Never! …”