VATICAN/YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan/Azg)–Voice of Iran and ANS-press reported that during a meeting between Pope John Paul II and Gaidar Aliyev the two discussed the settlement of the Karabakh conflict–and the Pope announced that he recognizes Karabakh as an entity of Azerbaijan subordinate to that government.
The report also stated that Azeri officials told the Pope that they were aware of the Pontif’s plans to visit Armenia and Karabakh–however–they emphasized that without Baku’s presence during a Karabakh visit would be deemed disrespectful by the Azeri government.
The sources said that the Pope agreed with the Azeri delegation. The spiritual leader of the Muslim population in the Caucasus along with Aliyev extended an invitation to the Pope to visit Azerbaijan–and the Catholic leader accepted the invitation wholeheartedly.
According to the report–Aliyev has been trying to persuade the Christian leader for backing on the conflict–a tactic–which per the radio station–has been unsuccessfully tried before. Aliyev–reportedly put great value on Christian backing of its goals–and therefore the Pope’s endorsement or at least tilt toward the Azeri side would bear great significance for the Muslim state.
According to the Voice of Iran–the Azeri Youth National Council sent a message to Aliyev–attracting his attention to the danger resulting from activities of Christian missionaries– and the possibility of the collapse of Islam–if no urgent measures are taken.