11, 2011

Welcoming Statement of President Serzh Sargsyan at the session of the Presidium of the CIS Interfaith Council

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Your Holiness, Catholicos of All Armenians Garegin II,
Your Holiness, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia,
Honorable Sheikh-Ul-Islam, Head of Administration of Muslims of the Caucasus Allashukyur Pashazade,
Distinguished leaders of religious denominations,
Dear Guests,

I am deeply honored to greet and welcome distinguished participants of the Summit of the CIS Interfaith Council, His Holiness and all guests of our country. It is emblematic that this meeting is taking place on the flanks of the Biblical Mountain Masis which symbolizes our country and our people. Noah landed here, emerged from his ark and restarted the history of the humankind.

We are proud that our country, which has millennia-long history, is one of the world’s most ancient centers of dissemination of Christianity. More than seventeen hundred years ago, the Armenian people had decided to make the commands of the Holy Scripture the anchor of their own system of values.

The Saint Armenian Apostolic Church has been the standard bearer and protector of our people throughout these times. On different stages of our history, the Church had been compelled to assume the role of state structures. In times, when the Armenian nation was deprived of its statehood, our Church became the most crucial organizer of the Armenian culture and education, holding high the noble idea of being sovereign and of reestablishing our own free state.

The Armenian Church has also been the one who has been handing over from generation to generation our faith and universal values as well as the unbending proponent for the preservation of the Armenian identity. I am confident, that the same is true for every religious community represented here. Spiritual rise should become a reality in each of our countries.

Distinguished Participants,

Spiritual lessons of your generation have a special mission. You made your decision to assume religious duties in the situation when the state policies were not conducive for such a decision. However, you had followed the call of your hearts and conquered that unwarranted pressure.

Times have changed, and now every individual is free to profess his or her religion. Present here today are the leaders of Christian, Muslim, Judaist and Buddhist traditional religions. This is a collective power of its own kind, which symbolizes the supremacy of a peaceful coexistence of different religions and mutual respect.

In modern world, these concepts are being discussed very often. However, during these discussions it is also sometimes forgotten that “tolerate” means to come to terms with something which may be not very pleasing, while it can be only the minimum of what we all want. We should first of all attach importance to mutual contacts rather than isolation. We should attach importance to mutual understanding and not to suspicion toward the so called “aliens”. We have to transcend tolerance and move to a higher stage which represents deep mutual respect.

This conference is called to prove that the only right way to solve problems of the contemporary world is to unite our forces in the face of common challenges, greater solidarity of the people regardless of their nationality and religious beliefs. Today, world needs peace and not dividedness. Down this road we should not disregard or subordinate but to encourage and strengthen spiritual roots of the people. The roots that give sprouts of love, kindness, respect and connivance, which promote accord and establishment of peace.

Dear Friends,

The Armenian nation has made its historic and irreversible decision to develop through the utmost cooperation with its neighbors, friends and the entire world. We believe that disagreements and problems should be solved through contacts, negotiations and cooperation and not through threats or increased tension. We have been ready to offer hand of friendship even in the times when we were not sure that the response would be equipollent. Disappointment felt after making such difficult decisions is, of course, can be very discouraging.

You are aware that the Artsakh, Nagorno Karabakh conflict is a great pain for us. And things I have said, first of all pertain to that problem. The process of peaceful negotiations conducted in the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group is the only practical way to solve it. Armenia will move steadfastly in that direction since any alternative will bring no benefit to us or to the neighboring nation.

Negotiations over such a tangled and compound problem require patience and adherence to principles. Among our principled approaches I would like to underscore that this conflict is not of religious nature and any attempt to provide it with a religious lining is nonconstructive. It shouldn’t be allowed that our two great religions – Christianity and Islam, which are professed by our nations are set off against each other. Even more inadmissible are the actions perpetrated under the cover of the conflict which are aimed at the destruction of the monuments of historical, cultural and spiritual heritage.

Before this august audience on behalf of the Republic of Armenia, I reiterate our commitment to protect all such monuments and restore them if needed. The best proof of our policy is the Blue Mosque – a monument of the XVIII century situated in the heart of Armenia’s capital Yerevan.

Concluding this part of my remarks, I welcome the dialogue between Catholicos of All Armenians Garegin II and Sheikh-Ul-Islam Allashukyur Pashazade which is conducted with the mediation of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia. I thank you for your efforts which promote a peaceful settlement of the Artsakh conflict.

Taking this opportunity, I congratulate His Holiness Patriarch Kirill on his 65th birth anniversary which he celebrated quite recently. Your Holiness, I wish you all the best, strength and vigor for the sake of spiritual rise of our brothers and sisters in faith.

Dear Guests,

I believe that morality and faith are interrelated. I think that without faith, without spiritual vision a person is not able to open all of his potential, to move forward unimpeded, develop and improve. In the modern complex and boisterous world you are beacons for the thousands of believers who need your wisdom and your sublimity. Your cooperation and unity have critical importance for your followers. I am confident that these issues too will be discussed during this conference.

I wish all the participants of this event productive work and material results in disclosing and finding ways for the resolution of the issues which are of vital importance for the CIS and the world.

God bless you all.
Thank you.

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