President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva visited the Vatican, February 22.
Official welcoming ceremony was held for President Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva in the Vatican.
A guard of honour was arranged for President Ilham Aliyev.
President Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva then met with head of the Catholic Church Pope Francis in the Vatican.
Greeting President Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva, Pope Francis recalled their visit to the Vatican, as well as his own visit to Azerbaijan in 2016, and said that he was pleased with his trip to the country.
Hailing the public and political stability reigning in Azerbaijan, and well-being of the Azerbaijani people, Pope Francis pointed to the tolerant relations between the religious communities in the country. He described Azerbaijan as an example of true tolerance at a time when tensions and conflicts in many parts of the world were escalated, and some circles attempted to spread hostility and hatred by using religious factors.
Pope Francis underlined the renovation work done by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation in the Vatican, and thanked the government of Azerbaijan, particularly President of the Foundation Mehriban Aliyeva. He emphasized that the Vatican will never forget the restoration work done by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation here, because, thanks to the projects of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, many historical monuments, including catacombs have been restored in the Vatican.
President Ilham Aliyev noted that Pope Francis' visit to Azerbaijan is of pivotal importance to the country, which plays a special role in further development of relations between civilizations and religions around the world. The head of state pointed out that Azerbaijan hosted a number of major international events in this regard.
“Our country seeks to establish mutual understanding, brotherhood and solidarity among representatives of religions all over the world and in this regard is a role model for the world. The example of tolerance and coexistence offered by Azerbaijan is one of the main criteria contributing to the elimination of conflicts and confrontations in the world.”
President Ilham Aliyev emphasized that the cooperation between the Holy See and Azerbaijan would continue expanding.
The sides then exchanged keepsakes.