TEAS responds to Prince Charles’ private visit to Armenia

Press Release: The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS) notes that Prince Charles is to pay a private visit to Armenia from 28-30 May at the invitation of the Yerevan, My Love charity foundation, which aims ‘to safeguard the historic districts of Yerevan and improve the life experiences of young people from disadvantaged communities’. TEAS trusts that he will appreciate the architectural splendour of the many mosques that once flourished in the city – surviving now, unfortunately,  only in old photographs – and will spare a thought for the almost one million people of neighbouring Azerbaijan disadvantaged by being driven from their homes by Armenian forces.

TEAS is pleased to acknowledge Prince Charles’ interest in the history of the South Caucasus. During his visit to Armenia he will have the opportunity to experience the country’s Christian church architecture. However, TEAS is hopeful that he will find the opportunity to cross the border to neighbouring Azerbaijan, where he will be able to examine some of the oldest Christian churches in the Caucasus, as well as synagogues, mosques and other places of worship, all of which bear testament to that country’s long history of religious and ethnic tolerance. In Baku, he will also find an Armenian Gregorian church that has been restored with the support of the Azerbaijani government.

Of course, Prince Charles will have some difficulty in crossing the border, as some 20 per cent of Azerbaijan’s lands are still under Armenian occupation, in a 20-year defiance of four UN resolutions. His meeting with Armenian President Sargsyan will certainly be an opportunity to advocate respect for international law.

The first day of his visit on 28 May will also coincide with Azerbaijani Republic Day, which recalls the foundation of the Azerbaijani Democratic Republic (ADR) in 1918. During its 23 months of existence, the ADR was the first democratic and secular government in the Muslim world. It was extremely progressive, introducing the franchise for all women over the age of 18 years and establishing Baku State University, amongst other developments. TEAS hopes that Prince Charles will express his congratulations to the Azerbaijani people on this important public holiday and further cement the long-standing relations with a significant trading partner.

Lionel Zetter, Director, TEAS, said: "Prince Charles is quite rightly universally admired for his ecumenical outlook, and his respect for all faiths. Indeed, he publicly declared that he wished to be a defender of all of the faiths. I hope he will visit Azerbaijan, where he will be able to see mosques, synagogues and churches, and witness the religious tolerance which is a hallmark of the country."