Azerbaijan Voices Concern Over Papal Visit to Armenia

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The foreign minister of Azerbaijan Velayat Guliyev protested against the upcoming visit of Pope John Paul II to Armenia at his meeting in Baku with the representative of Vatican in the Caucasus–the Agence France Presse reported on Friday.

"The visit of the holy pontiff to Armenia–which is one of the sides in the conflict and is generally regarded as the aggressor–is not fully understood in Azerbaijan," Velayat Guliyev told visiting Archbishop Pyotr Zubriggen.

The foreign minister of mainly muslim Azerbaijan said his country "is in greater need of charity–attention and moral support" than its neighbors in Armenia."

Pope John Paul II will visit Armenia on September 25 were he will be the guest of the Catholicos of All Armenia’s Karekin II. He will also meet with Armenian President Robert Kocharian.

In Armenia Pope John Paul II will take part in the official celebrations of the 1,700th anniversary of the adoption of Christianity as the country’s official religion.

The head of the Roman Catholic Church will come to Armenia from Kazakhstan where he will visit on September 22.

The papal nuncio for the Caucasus told Azeri foreign minister Velayat Guliyev that a the visit by the pontiff to Azerbaijan in future is "still on the agenda and will definitely happen."

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