Bible Society was approved last month in Azerbaijan after a 20-year struggle.

"We at UBS are grateful to God for the new ministry opportunity which has opened up in Azerbaijan with this new Bible Society," said Terje Hartberg, Head of Global Ministry Exchange at UBS. "The Bible Society in Azerbaijan joins the UBS family of 148 Bible Societies working in more than 200 countries and territories to provide Churches with Scriptures and Bible-based programs. Sister Bible Societies have expressed their delight at this newest addition to the global Bible Society movement and stand ready to support the leaders of this emerging ministry in Azerbaijan."

Christian leaders in the country were working and praying hard for the registration of the Bible Society, according to reports.

"This has been a time of close co-operation with our partners and mentors from UBS [United Bible Societies], and particularly from the Norwegian and Ukrainian Bible Societies," Rasim Khalilov, Chairman of the Bible Committee, wrote in a letter of thanks to the UBS fellowship. "We have received an answer to prayer after a time of waiting and hoping. Praise and glory to our Lord!"

Forum 18 had reported last year that the Old Testament and Hebrew Bible are among the "banned" books in the country. The police has confiscated these books in the past.

When World Watch Monitor contacted Forum 18's Felix Corley, he said: "Well, you can't publish, print, import or distribute any religious publication without prior permission from the State Committee, which will also set numbers allowed. So nothing is approved until it is approved."

Founders of the new Bible Society, Khalilov and Pastor Elchin Pashaev, were very excited about the prospect of working towards building infrastructure and ministry programs for the society.

"The registration of the Bible Society in Azerbaijan is a great development for Christianity in our country! It shows our government's policy of tolerance for multiculturalism and for all denominations and communities," said Robert Mobili, Chairman of the Udin Christian Community in Azerbaijan.