Iftar ceremony was held on the occasion of holy month of Ramadan
 President Ilham Aliyev attended the ceremony

Baku, May 24, AZERTAC

Chairman of the Caucasus Muslims Office Sheikhulislam Allahshukur Pashazade has hosted an Iftar ceremony on the occasion of the holy month of Ramadan at his residence.

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev attended the Iftar ceremony.

The event kicked off with the recitation of verses from the Quran and a Ramadan prayer.

Addressing the ceremony, Sheikhulislam Allahshukur Pashazade expressed his gratitude to President Ilham Aliyev and guests for accepting his invitation to attend the Iftar ceremony on the occasion of the holy month of Ramadan.

Other speakers at the event included Archbishop of Baku and Azerbaijan Eparchy of the Russian Orthodox Church Alexander, head of the Mountain Jews Community in Azerbaijan Milikh Yevdayev and bishop of the Catholic Church in Azerbaijan Vladimir Fekete.

The head of state addressed the event.

Speech of President Ilham Aliyev

- Your Eminence Sheikh,

Dear religious figures,

Ladies and Gentlemen.

As is the case every year, we are meeting for the Iftar ceremony at His Eminence Sheikh’s residency in the holy month of Ramadan. This is a great tradition. It lives and will live on. This is a good example of relations between the state and religion. These relations are of particular importance for any country and are exemplary in Azerbaijan.

This relationship is underpinned by great leader Heydar Aliyev and His Eminence Sheikh. Their personal friendship and respect for each other had an enormous influence on the development of relations between the state and religion. I bear witness to the fact that His Eminence Sheikh and great leader Heydar Aliyev were very close to each other, and everything that they did for the people and for the Motherland created the conditions for the present-day successful development of Azerbaijan.

Until 1993, there were certain gaps in the relations between the state and religion. Since 1993, work in this area is regulated at the highest level in all directions. On 10 May, on the 96th birthday of the great leader, we talked about what he did for the people and for the state. Heydar Aliyev’s contributions to the people of Azerbaijan are exceptional. The present-day independent Azerbaijan is the work of his creation. The creation of the foundations of statehood and the determination of strategic directions for the development of Azerbaijan became possible precisely because of the wisdom and foresight of Heydar Aliyev.

His Eminence, the esteemed Sheikh has done a great deal for the people and the state. His Eminence Sheikh is a prominent religious figure who enjoys great authority in Azerbaijan, in the Caucasus and throughout the world. He represents Azerbaijan in the world as a country committed to its values and, at the same time, a modern and tolerant nation. His multifaceted international activity promotes Azerbaijan in the world and introduces Azerbaijani realities of the world community. The successful activity of His Eminence Sheikh strengthens our country.

There are national solidarity and civil accord in our country. Although religion is separated from the state according to the Constitution, religion and the state are actually next to each other. Our strength is in unity. Today, the successful development of Azerbaijan largely depends on the successful development of the relations between the state and religion.

The situation in the world is deteriorating. Both in our region and around the world, new clashes and hotbeds of conflict arise. New risks and threats are appearing. Different opinions are being put forward and assumptions made regarding the future of the world, the future of stability. Our main task is to preserve stability in Azerbaijan, improve the well-being of the Azerbaijani people and protect our country from possible risks. In recent years, a lot has been done in this direction. Azerbaijan is on the path of development. The development dynamics is very positive. I am sure that thanks to the profound reforms to be carried out in the coming years, long-term and sustainable development of our country will be ensured.

We have built a modern state on a solid national and spiritual foundation. Islamic values are an integral part of our national and spiritual values. We are attached to our religion. We are promoting Islamic culture in the world. Numerous conferences, exhibitions and presentations are held in the world to communicate Azerbaijani realities, the realities of Islamic culture to the world community. We introduce Islam to the world the way it is – a religion of peace and mercy, and we will continue this activity in the future.

We have traditional friendly and fraternal ties with Muslim countries. This is one of the priorities in our foreign policy. Azerbaijan has been able to establish close ties with all Muslim countries, and we always support each other in the international plane. At the same time, we very actively cooperate in a bilateral format. A few days ago, during a meeting with the Ambassadors of Muslim countries, we had an exchange of views on these issues.

At the same time, Azerbaijan is an active member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and makes a valuable contribution to the strengthening of Islamic solidarity within the framework of this organization. Our country has hosted numerous events through the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation appreciates our policy of Azerbaijan towards protecting Islamic values. We will continue our efforts to strengthen Islamic solidarity within the organization. I should also note that in 2016, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation set up a contact group on the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and it always supports our just cause in connection with this conflict.

There is only one way to resolve the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict – the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan recognized by the world community must be restored. Nagorno-Karabakh is our historical and ancestral land. We are communicating these realities to the world. Unfortunately, there was not enough information about the conflict in the world when it started. In the early 1990s, our lands were occupied. The crisis, anarchy and chaos our country was experiencing at the time allowed Armenia the opportunity to seize our historical lands. At that time, we were in international isolation and could not reach out to the world community. This led to the emergence of a completely distorted opinion about conflict in the world. Thanks to our regular efforts, the whole world already knows that Nagorno-Karabakh is an integral part of Azerbaijan, our historical land. The publication of numerous books, various presentations and conferences related to the conflict serve the goal of informing the world community about it.

Everyone can see that there are double standards in connection with the conflict. How is it possible that the highest body of the world, the UN Security Council, adopts four resolutions explicitly stating that Armenian armed forces must withdraw from the occupied lands, but these resolutions are not implemented. Therefore, I believe that the existing double standards in the world are one of the biggest problems. We will continue our efforts to resolve the conflict. We are increasing our economic power, our political authority is growing, in military terms Azerbaijan is among the strongest countries now. We have secured an edge on the battlefield and liberated a part of the lands that were once occupied. Today, the Azerbaijani flag flies on these lands. A mosque similar to the Shusha mosque has been built on the lands liberated from occupation, a village has been built and life has returned there. This shows once again that the Azerbaijani people will never put up with this occupation. The village of Jojug Marjanli, which has revived and is developing today, epitomizes the unbending spirit of the Azerbaijani people. The territorial integrity of Azerbaijan has never been and never will be the subject of negotiations. I want to say again: this conflict must be resolved only within the territorial integrity of our country.

We are protecting our historical and religious monuments. The state and religion are together here too. In recent years, hundreds of mosques have been built or renovated. Our historical mosques have a special place among these. His Eminence Sheikh has said that the magnificent park created around the Taza-Pir mosque will give the city a second breath. In other words, landscaping on an area of 20 hectares will improve the climate in this area, create opportunities for people’s comfort and, at the same time, open the magnificent Taza-Pir panorama to city residents. The buildings that were once constructed around the Taza-Pir mosque obstructed the view of it. The major overhaul of other mosques demonstrates our intentions and our policy. The overhaul of the mosques of Bibi-Heybat, Ajdarbay, the Shamakhi Juma mosque, the historical and religious complex Imamzadeh is a demonstration of the relations between the state and religion. The construction of the Heydar mosque is a historic event.

As you know, the first event I participated in after last year’s presidential election was the opening of a new building of the Haji Javad mosque. And it was no coincidence. I could visit any place after the election. The fact that we marked the opening of a new building of the Haji Javad mosque testifies to our respect for the relations between the state and religion, to Islam.

Inter-religious relations in our country are regulated at the highest level. This is already a reality. The whole world knows and accepts these realities. Today, Azerbaijan has become a center for inter-religious dialogue on a global scale. It is no coincidence that numerous international events are held in our country on our initiative. If we hadn’t initiated them, such events wouldn’t have been held.

As His Eminence Sheikh has said, the Second Summit of Religious Leaders will be held this year. The decision has been made. The birthday of his Eminence Sheikh and the 40th anniversary of his activities will be officially celebrated at state level. I am sure that Azerbaijan as a modern country attached to its religious and national roots and, at the same time, a tolerant state promoting multicultural values, will once again demonstrate its realities to the world.

The numerous international events held in Azerbaijan are of great importance both for the country, for the processes taking place both in it, and for the whole world. Azerbaijan is a multiethnic and multi-religious country. This is our great asset. Representatives of all nations and religions live in Azerbaijan in the conditions of goodwill, peace and tranquility. We live like one family, and our strength is in this unity. These events are of great importance for the world because there are various opinions related to inter-religious relations in the world today. In other words, there is no unequivocal approach. Sometimes very dangerous thoughts are expressed, steps are taken that can lead to negative consequences. Therefore, our initiatives are of great importance for the world. The latest major event was the Forum for Intercultural Dialogue. Very important issues were discussed and the positive role of Azerbaijan in this area was confirmed again during the Forum. We will continue our efforts in this area. I want to say again: we need that and the whole world needs that because we want developments in the world to go in a positive way, so that there is no confrontation, differences on religious or ethnic grounds, so that there is peace, equality and justice. Our sacred religion Islam demands exactly this, and we as a state will continue our efforts in this direction. The successful and sustainable development of our country will be ensured and the goals facing the country will be achieved. There are very clear views and specific programs to address the existing problems, and they will be implemented. Today, Azerbaijani realities are such that our country is confidently and optimistically moving forward. We live with optimism. We also have a strong political will to address the problems facing the country and popular support.

Dear participants of the ceremony, I want to once again express my gratitude to His Eminence Sheikh and other religious leaders for the kind words about me. I want to congratulate Muslims of the whole world on the holy month of Ramadan. I wish all Muslims peace, tranquility and prosperity! Thank you.

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