Historical background to the document of "Speech of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the meeting ceremony of the Pope John Paul II" (May 22, 2002)

Diplomatic relations between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the center of the world catholic christians, the state of Vatican were established on May of 1992. Ten years later, the head of the same state, the 264th Pope of Rome John Paul II visited Azerbaijan for the first time, on May 22, 2002.

The President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev met with John Paul II during his visit to Italy, on September of 1997. In his speech, at the meeting ceremony of the reply visit by the Pope on May 22 2002, Heydar Aliyev called the head of Vatican a friend of the whole humanity, a world citizen, regardless of its religion, language and race. The head of the Azerbaijani state declared John Paul`s visits to the muslim countries served to strengthen mutual trust and respect between the religions of Islam and Christianity.

In his speech, John Paul II evaluated existence of tolerance and mutual understanding among the religionsin Azerbaijan as an example to take a pride. The Pope of Rome once again affirmed Azerbaijan as a gate between East and West.

The head of the Vatican state took part in the ceremony held by the catholic community of Azerbaijan during his visit to Baku. It's reported that the community has nearly 130 members.

The first catholic church in Azerbaijan was built in 1912. It was destroyed at the soviet period in 1930, due to the anti-religion policy.

At the present time two catholic churches act in the country. In his interview on April of 2006, the president of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev said that one more catholic church would be built.

While meeting John Paul II, in his speech Heydar Aliyev called his attention to the Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan and to the needs of the victims of this aggression: "You propagate the ideas of charity and kindness among people and ask for patience and soothe those who suffer from a disaster. There are victims of such a disaster in Azerbaijan too. They are more than a million of azerbaijani refugees who have lost their homes because of the Armenian aggression. Those people need your kind and soothing words. They ask your help for the restoration of the justice."

Historical background was compiled on April 26, 2006.