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October 20
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The trilateral meeting of the spiritual leaders was the seventeenth one — similar meetings have been held from time to time since 1988, and the axis of the meetings has been the Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) issue and the challenges that emerged after the war; the right of the people of Artsakh to self-determination, as well as the issues on the pullout of snipers from the border, the return of captives and clarification of the fate of the missing were discussed. This is what Head of the Information System of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, Priest Yesai Artenyan said during a conversation with Armenian News-NEWS.am, touching upon the meeting of Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II and Grand Mufti of the Caucasus, Sheikh ul-Islam Allahshukur Pashazadeh held through the mediation of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.

“This was the platform where the issues on security of the people of Artsakh and the truths related to the issue of Artsakh were raised, the platform where an attempt was made to find solutions through discussions, and time showed that the agreements reached during the meetings of the past years had a certain positive impact on the establishment of peace in the region. We hope and anticipate that this meeting will contribute to the solution to the issues raised, particularly the return of prisoners of war and clarification of the fate of the missing. We can’t guess to what extent this will become a reality, but let’s hope that the relevant authorities pay attention to the issues raised,” he stated.

The last trilateral meeting of the spiritual leaders of the region took place in 2017. Asked what led to the emergence of the need for a new meeting after a long interval, Priest Yesai Artenyan noted that the trilateral meetings are usually held at the initiative of the Russian Patriarch, and since the tragic consequences of the recent war in Artsakh are escalating and troubling, the current challenges led to the emergence of a demand to organize a new meeting.

Priest Yesai Artenyan fell short of saying whether there were agreements reached in regard to the return of prisoners of war and other humanitarian issues during the meeting and mentioned that he couldn’t transmit further information.

After the war, Azerbaijan desecrated the Holy Savior Ghazanchetsots Cathedral of Shushi by launching construction, lowering the hood of the cupola of the cathedral, transforming the internal structure of the church and trying to erase the Armenian spiritual-cultural trace. Azerbaijan is also leading a consisten policy to ascribe Armenian shrines to the spiritual heritage of the Ouds. Armenian News-NEWS.am asked Priest Yesai Artenyan if these issues were on the agenda of the trilateral meeting and whether agreements were reached to prevent the attempts to erase the Armenian historical-cultural trace.

“We hope to achieve results with regard to the protection of not only the Holy Savior Ghazanchetsots Cathedral in Shushi, but also all the other remaining shrines. The Supreme Patriarch touched upon the preservation of Armenian shrines in the territories that are under the control of Azerbaijan, which implies emphasis on not distorting history, and we see this in Azerbaijan,” he noted.

Over the past few months, Azerbaijan has been prohibiting Armenian pilgrims from visiting Dadivank Monastery. In response to Armenian News-NEWS.am’s question, Priest Yesai Artenyan informed that there is still no progress in lifting this ban, based on the results of the trilateral meeting.

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