On 11 May the Head of the Department of Interethnic Relations, Multiculturalism and Religious Issues of the Presidential Administration of the Republic of Azerbaijan Etibar Najafov received the delegation headed by the Romanian State Secretary on Religious Issues Viktor Opaski.
At the meeting Etibar Najafov thoroughly dealt with the state support and care for the national and religious communities in Azerbaijan, President Ilham Aliyev’s successful implementation of this policy founded by the National Leader Heydar Aliyev. E.Najafov, who also spoke of the existing legislative basis, pointed out the protection of all the rights of the national and religious communities in our country, underlined that 96 percent of the Azerbaijani population are Muslims and 4 percent are the followers of other religions whose freedom for faith is completely guaranteed.
E.Najafov, who also touched upon the guidelines of the activities of the Department headed by him, stated that the Department coordinates the relevant executive power and other state organs, the work of the state institutions in the implementation of the state policy related to the national minorities, multiculturalism and religious activities, and provides general supervision.
Along with the traditions of tolerance in Azerbaijan, E.Najafov also spoke of the peculiar model of multiculturalism, and stated that as a discipline this model is being taught at universities of both Europe and other countries. In this connection, the guests were also told about the activities of Baku International Centre of Multiculturalism and the implemented projects. E.Najafov emphasized that today Azerbaijan is considered one of the centres of multiculturalism in the world; though there are various attitudes to multiculturalism in the world, our country is successfully pursuing its policy in this sphere.
In his speech the Romanian State Secretary on Religious Issues Viktor Opaski stated that he has been to our country thrice. V.Opaski, who compared his first visit in 1996 and second visit later in 2002 and the present one, mentioned that within a short span of time Azerbaijan has had a period of high development. The State Secretary also spoke of his meeting with the National Leader Heydar Aliyev and his charismatic nature as a leader, as well as his own deep respect to the National Leader and pleasant impressions. He also recalled his meeting with the National Leader during the latter’s trip to Romania and their extensive exchange of views. He underlined that such kind of meetings will contribute to the development of relations between the two countries, the importance of the exchange of opinions in this sphere, in general, the importance of studying Azerbaijan’s present experience.
Speaking of the relations between the state and religion in his country, V.Opaski stated that in Romania the state gives salaries to the religious leaders and religious communities, and the related legislation enables to provide the freedom for faith of the followers of all religious confessions. Underlining that in today’s Romania 18 religious communities have been officially registered, out of which 16 are Christian communities, one a Jewish community, and one is a Muslim community, V.Opaski pointed out the mutual respect and tolerant relations among the communities. The State Secretary, who expressed his deep gratitude for the invitation to Azerbaijan and warm reception, stated his pleasure from the meeting.
Speaking at the meeting, the Supreme Mufti of Romania’s Muslim Community Yusuf Murad gave thorough information about the activities of the Muslim community in his country. Touching upon their relations with Azerbaijan, close cooperation with the Caucasian Muslims Office, the Supreme Mufti focused the attention to his participation in a number of international conferences organized by the Caucasian Muslims Office in the frames of “The Year of Islamic Solidarity” last year.
In the end the guests were given the books “The President of the Republic of Azerbaijan on the Azerbaijani Model of Multiculturalism” and “The Selected Islamic Monuments of Azerbaijan”. In their turn, the guests also presented some pieces of literature on Romania’s history, model of state-religion relations as gifts.
The meeting was also attended by the Romania’s Ambassador to Azerbaijan Dan Ianku, the Director of Romania’s State Secretariat on Religious Issus Cezar Pavelescu, the Counselor of the State Secretariat on Religious Issues Catalin Raiu, the Counselor of the Supreme Mufti of the Muslim Community in Romania Daniel Iout Farkas, the Head of the Mission of the Romanian Embassy to Azerbaijan Cristian Coroma, the Senior Consultant of the Department of Interethnic Relations, Multiculturalism and Religious Issues Jeyhun Mammadov, the Head of the Foreign Relations Department of the State Committee for the Work with Religious Organizations Nijat Mammadli.