… by Ian Greenhalgh
A senior Armenian politician has spoken out to decry the attempts by Turkey to add a religious aspect to the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.
A quick history lesson: There has been an Armenian state since at least the 6th century BC. Armenia is an Orthodox Christian country, not only that but it is the birthplace of the Orthodox form of Christianity; Armenia was the first nation to adopt Christianity as a state religion, an event traditionally dated to AD 301.
The roots of the Armenian Church go back to the 1st century. According to tradition, the Armenian Church was founded by two of Jesus’ twelve apostles – Thaddaeus and Bartholomew – who preached Christianity in Armenia between AD 40–60. Because of these two founding apostles, the official name of the Armenian Church is Armenian Apostolic Church.
From the Armenian wellspring the religion spread across the whole of Russia and Eastern Europe. For this reason, Armenia is significant and precious to the Orthodox. Armenia has tense relations with Turkey, not least due to the Armenian Holocaust of 1915 when the Turks slaughtered millions of Armenians.
Azerbaijan is much more modern, the Azeris being an admix of Turkic and Tatar peoples who migrated here from Central Asia beginning in the 11th century AD; the Azeri language is called Azeri Turkish and is largely mutually intelligible with the Turkish language. Most Azeris watch Turkish TV so understand the Turkish language perfectly well.
While there is no official state religion, most Azeri are followers of Shia Islam after being converted from Sunni Islam by the Persian Empire around 1500 AD. Despite Turkey being a Sunni country, Azerbaijan is closely allied to them rather than to Shia Iran. Corruption in Azerbaijan is widespread, especially in the public services. The ruling New Azerbaijan Party has been accused of authoritarianism and human rights abuses.
Therefore, we have all the necessary ingredients in place for a religious war pitting Orthodox Christians against Shia Moslems. Armenia is accusing Turkey of trying to exploit this religious divide to further the conflict; given what we know about Erdogan and his regime, I think it is very highly likely that this accusation is accurate… Ian.
13 April, 2016, YEREVAN, ARMENPRESS.
Since the very beginning of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict Turkey has openly assisted and supported Azerbaijan. Turkey is the only country in the region which has directly justified on the highest level all atrocities of Azerbaijan.
This was stated by Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Eduard Sharmazanov on April 13 during a press conference.
“It has even gotten to a point where Turkey tries to attach a religious character to the Nagorno Karabakh conflict via its Foreign Minister. This is immoral and unacceptable. If we attach a religious character to this conflict, it may be the beginning of a new disaster in the region. European, Russian and American civilizations have to be attentive and clearly put pressure”, Armenpress reports Sharmazanov saying.
He stressed that Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has called upon the Muslim countries to unite over the Nagorno Karabakh conflict.
“When Aliyev was making religious assessments, protesting Europeans and Minsk group, as if they are pro-Armenian, because Armenians are Christians and they are Muslim, those same Europeans and the Minsk Group were ignoring our calls. And we were saying that it is dangerous that Azerbaijan is attaching a religious character to this conflict. I think that we have to realize the seriousness of this issue”, Sharmazanov said.
He said that those Muslim countries which had and continue having friendly relations with Armenia will not be dragged into Turkish provocations.
“This is not a religious war, not a religious conflict. The Armenian people have always had friendly relations with the Arab world, Iran and a number of Muslim countries. This is exclusively a Turkish, Pan-Turkish factor and this Turkish-Azerbaijani tandem should not be identified as Muslim.”
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, a virtual dictator, he and his family were exposed by the Panama Papers as controlling much of the country’s wealth. On April 3, 2016 an international consortium of journalists released leak of documents on offshore companies created by the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.
It revealed Aliyev’s family ties to offshore companies controlling major sectors of Azerbaijan’s economy. According to leakage “The family of Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev leads a charmed, glamorous life, thanks in part to financial interests in almost every sector of the economy. His wife, Mehriban, owns banks, insurance and construction companies, a television station and a line of cosmetics.
Their eldest daughter, Leyla, editor of Baku magazine, and her sister, Arzu, have financial stakes in a firm that won rights to mine for gold in the western village of Chovdar and Azerfon, the country’s largest mobile phone business. Arzu is also a significant shareholder in SW Holding, which controls nearly every operation related to Azerbaijan Airlines (“Azal”), from meals to airport taxis.
Both sisters and brother Heydar own property in Dubai valued at roughly $75 million in 2010; Heydar is the legal owner of nine luxury mansions in Dubai purchased for some $44 million. The president’s sister, Sevil Aliyeva, a longtime London resident, founded Space TV, a news and entertainment channel in Azerbaijan. She is also the owner of a BVI company, which registration lists her at an address in a West London neighborhood where average home prices touch $9 million.”
CNBC Filthy Rich programme from 2012 – which explored the real estate holdings of Aliyev’s family abroad and compared President Aliyev to Mafioso Michael and Sonny Corleone.