President Ilham Aliyev: Azerbaijan is country, where culture and civilization merged (PHOTO)

President Ilham Aliyev: Azerbaijan is country, where culture and civilization merged (PHOTO)

Azerbaijan, Baku, Oct. 11 / Trend /

The International Humanitarian Forum "21st century: hopes and challenges" has started at the Gulustan Palace in Baku.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and his wife Mehriban Aliyeva attended the opening and the first plenary session of the forum.

The head of state made opening remarks at the forum.

"Baku will host a very significant forum today and tomorrow. All those who came to the forum are our dear guests. I am confident that the exchange of experience to be held over two days in the forum and proposals to be put forward will further deepen cooperation in the humanitarian sphere," President Aliyev said.

Aliyev said intellectuals of Russia and Azerbaijan put forward the initiative to hold the First Baku International Humanitarian Forum.

"The leadership of Azerbaijan and Russia supported this initiative. Our country regularly hosts international events on humanitarian cooperation in recent years. The Baku process was launched in 2008 and runs up to date. Then we invited representatives of ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to attend a Baku meeting of culture ministers of member countries Council of Europe and this was first a joint international event. In turn, ministers from the Council of Europe were invited to Baku of ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in 2009. That is, this tradition has already been founded. Baku hosted the World Summit of Religious Leaders in 2010 and I very well remember the event. The discussions and decisions made valuable contributions to strengthening the dialogue between civilizations. Baku hosted a number of other international events in 2010. The Baku Forum on Intercultural Dialogue held in April 2011 also went down in history as a momentous event. That is, it's a great tradition," Aliyev added.

President Aliyev underscored that Azerbaijan's experience demonstrates that people belonging to different cultures and religions can live in peace, friendship and cooperation. Indeed, Azerbaijan's geographical position had its influence on the development of the country, he said.

"Azerbaijan is a country, where of culture and civilization merged. Our strength lies in unity. National and religious diversity multiplies our strength. Azerbaijan is a multi-ethnic and multi-confessional country. Representatives of all religions have equal rights. All religious monuments are protected, restored and constructed by the state. Of course, the stability and atmosphere of friendship reigning in our country at the time of independence now further reinforce Azerbaijan as a regional country," Aliyev said.

He stated that the entire reforms both political and economic carried out in the country have the same goal that the Azerbaijani citizens live even better and Azerbaijan increased its production capacity.

President Aliyev stressed that humanitarian issues are very important for any country.

"We have opportunities to develop this area. It is no secret and we all know that not natural resources, but the humanitarian factors provide the future and country's successful development. Therefore, investment made in education and science in Azerbaijan give and will further give results," Aliyev said.

However, Aliyev said, along with all positive trends the humanitarian field records difficulties.

"Our biggest challenge is that the internationally recognized territories of Azerbaijan are under occupation for many years. This is a huge humanitarian disaster. One million Azerbaijani citizens live in their homeland as refugees and IDPs. An ethnic cleansing policy was pursued against Azerbaijan. The Armenian aggression stroke a big blow on Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan has suffered both material and moral damage," the Head of State stated.

Aliyev stressed that a fairly wide-ranging discussions are carried out on multiculturalism in the world today.

"We in Azerbaijan have lived in multiculturalism for centuries. Our lives, in particular our experience of the past 20 years as an independent country, show that multiculturalism has a future. We state about this with complete confidence. Multiculturalism has great traditions not only in Azerbaijan, but in many countries, neighboring states. Theretofore, I believe it is inappropriate and harmful to cast doubt on multiculturalism, or to talk about its crash, because multiculturalism lacks alternative," he stated.

President Aliyev said only self-isolation can be an alternative to multiculturalism.

"I do not believe that any political party tried to pursue a policy of isolation. in the 21st century, in a globalizing world. This is a road to nowhere. Values and basis of multiculturalism should be strengthened," he underscored.

Then, the head of the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation, Sergey Naryshkin, read out a message of congratulation on behalf of Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev.

Speaking next was the 9th President of Turkey, Suleyman Demirel.

US Ambassador to Azerbaijan Matthew Bryza read out a message of former US President Bill Clinton.

Speaking next was the chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Mevlut Cavusoglu.

The Assistant Director-General for UNESCO's Communication and Information Sector, Janis Karklins, read out a message on behalf of UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.

Then the floor was given to General Manager of ISESCO Abdul Aziz Othman al-Tuwaijri.

After the first plenary session the forum participants had their picture taken with President Ilham Aliyev and his wife Mehriban Aliyeva.

The Baku International Humanitarian Forum is a reputable platform where issues of humanitarian cooperation are broadly discussed. Azerbaijan, a country possessing long-standing traditions of cooperation between cultures, civilizations and faiths, is an ideal venue for events in this format. According to public and political activists, people of culture and arts, leaders of the influential media who have come to Baku from different continents of the world to participate in the International Forum, this event will be extremely interesting and informative.

The two-day Baku International Humanitarian Forum, being held at the initiative of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev, will, in addition to the plenary session, have seven panels on such themes as "Humanitarian aspects of economic development models", "Modern technologies that have transformed the world", "Traditional value systems in postmodern culture", "Biotechnology and problems of ethics", "Multiculturalism: achievements and challenges", "Social journalism and high technology" and "Convergence of the sciences". Forum delegates will discuss philosophical and humanitarian aspects of the challenges facing humanity at the present stage of development.

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