(the first version was posted at 12:49 )
Azerbaijan, Baku, May 30 / Trend, S.Aliyev /
Holding the 2nd World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue is a reflection of Baku process, which started in 2008, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev said.
The president made the statement at the opening of the 2nd World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue, which is underway in Baku under the slogan "Living Together Peacefully in a Diverse World".
"I think it was a very important event in the modern history, and beginning of the extensive process was remembered with participation of culture ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member-states at a meeting of the culture ministers of the Council of Europe member states in Baku in 2008," President Ilham Aliyev said.
Later on a meeting of the culture ministers of the OIC member-states was attended by their colleagues from the CE.
"It means that Baku, along with its role of geographical bridge, also serves as a intercultural bridge," President Aliyev underscored.
In his speech, the Head of State also said that during the first Forum, he voiced an initiative for the event to became a traditional one.
"I am very pleased that our friends supported this initiative and today are participating at the Forum together with us," he said.
President Aliyev recalled that a very important event took place in 2010.
"The World Summit of Religious Leaders was held in Baku then and the first Forum was held in 2011. Baku process is developing and I am confident that the ongoing discussions at this forum, exchange of views and reports will contribute to our cause," the President said.
"Because we all want inter-religious and inter-cultural relations in the world to find their solution on a healthy basis, cooperation tendencies to be intensified, unpleasant milestones to be prevented, and the positive trends to dominate in the development of intercivilizational dialogue in the world."
Ilham Aliyev noted with regret that so far it is impossible to achieve the desired purpose in full.
"Because, there are conflicts on religious and ethnic grounds in different parts of the world, there are civil wars, tendencies of misunderstanding are growing. And I think that the discussion of these important issues in this format will contribute to our cause, to our cooperation," he said.
According to President Aliyev, holding this Forum in Baku is no coincidence.
"Azerbaijan has been home to the nations living here, and representatives of all religions for centuries. We are proud that today Azerbaijan is an independent, multi-ethnic and multi-faith country. Representatives of all religious, all nations live as one family in peace, friendship and understanding. This is our great wealth and great advantage, and I believe that this factor played a role in the successful development of Azerbaijan," he underscored.
The Head of State stressed that regardless of social and political order, Azerbaijan has been a place of religious tolerance in all periods.
"I am very pleased that in the period of independence, we were able not only to protect, but also to maintain the positive trends, I believe that we have intensified them even more, and we do not limit our activities to solely the country," Ilham Aliyev said.
The President noted that the initiatives put forward by Azerbaijan, create resonance in the world.
"I believe that all of our regional initiatives -- both political and economic, and initiatives related to other areas -- create good conditions for regional cooperation. And holding an international and interethnic dialogue, further reinforces these positive trends. The countries can have and, of course, do have political interests, there are also economic interests as well. Countries are united in many cases by their interests. But I believe that relations between nations should be built on a healthy basis in order to strengthen the positive trends of cooperation," President Aliyev underlined.
According to President Aliyev, the agenda of the Forum is quite extensive.
"The issues to be discussed here are of great importance, and opinions will be voiced which are associated with our views on the joint future," he said.
The President added that the joint future is a very important issue.
"This world has a place for every nation, as long as there is peace, prosperity and mutual understanding. We see the success of cooperation in the development of Azerbaijan. All of our steps associated with our regional initiatives are aimed at cooperation, and through cooperation and mutual support, we fully ensure our economic and political interests. As for regional cooperation, I believe that our positive experience may be of interest to others," President Aliyev said.
The President noted that at the same time, Azerbaijan is not only a multi-ethnic and multi-faith country, but also one of rare countries that are members of both the Council of Europe and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
"Azerbaijan is very active in both organizations and holds a very strong position in these organizations. I believe that these features make contribution also to the development of the Forum on Intercultural Dialogue," he said.
In his speech, the Head of State said that Azerbaijan is part of the Muslim world, and, of course, national and religious traditions are very strong in Azerbaijan.
"The independent Azerbaijani state is built on strong national and spiritual values. At the same time, in different periods, especially starting from the 19th century, European influence was strong enough in Azerbaijan. Two days ago, we celebrated the 95th anniversary of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic. It was the first republic in the Muslim world. And in fact it became the reason for not only the independence of the Azerbaijani people, but also gave impetus to the development, spread of the republican system in the region and the Muslim world," he said.
He said Azerbaijan, being part of the Muslim world, is very active in the Organization of Islamic Corporation.
"With great pride I can say that in 2009 Baku was declared the capital of Islamic culture. In 2018 another our ancient city - Nakhchivan will get this honorary title," the President said.
He noted that in addition, last year the most grandiose music contest of Europe, and perhaps of the world - Eurovision took place in Baku.
"In 2015, Azerbaijan will host the first European Olympic Games. It shows that to hold intercultural dialogue, Azerbaijan has not only good ground and basis. At the same time, with our initiatives, foreign policy and contribution to the intercivilization dialogue, we further enhance this cooperation. This is an important issue, because we are all witnesses of both positive and negative tendencies in the world," President Aliyev said.
Recently, different opinions have been voiced in connection with multiculturalism, that is, completely contradictory opinions are being voiced. Some believe that multiculturalism has collapsed, and politicians of some countries even openly state about it. Very pessimistic thoughts exist in public opinion in connection with the development of multicultural tendencies. Unfortunately, in some cases, political statements, the activities of non-governmental organizations and some media organizations have created the conditions for differences, instead of development of intercivilization dialogue.
Therefore, here responsibility of politicians and public figures is of great importance. Because in today's world in the period of the globalizing Internet, every opinion, voiced anywhere, creates a great resonance in the world. I think that we should popularize positive experience more widely. Because, one idea brings the people participating in this Forum together. Development of multiculturalism, the successful future of intercultural dialogue, and thus an idea of ongoing positive trends in the world unite us. We must seek to strengthen these positive trends with our work and with practical steps. Reverting to Azerbaijan, I can say that multiculturalism existed in the country for centuries. It's just that in previous periods, we were not familiar with that expression. It's relatively new," President Aliyev said.
According to President Aliyev, concepts such as tolerance, multiculturalism have always existed, and Azerbaijan is one of the addresses of multiculturalism.
"As I have already noted, representatives of all nations and religions live in Azerbaijan as one family. Historical monuments of all religions are protected in Azerbaijan. We have great respect for our historical past. Beautiful religious monument 'Ateshgah' is protected in Baku," he said.
The President noted that the oldest mosque in the country, built in 743, was opened on May 17, after reconstruction in Shamakhi.
"Today, Azerbaijan has restored this mosque, which was built 1270 years ago. Azerbaijan has also supported the construction of a synagogue in Baku. The ancient Albanian churches are restored and protected in Azerbaijan by the state. Orthodox and Catholic churches operate in the country as well. Noting only that means multiculturalism really has excellent opportunities," Ilham Aliyev said.
"I believe that in every corner of the world, these positive tendencies may intensify," President Aliyev underlined.
The main thing, according to the Head of state, is the presence of the political will, adherence of politicians to these positive tendencies.
"Because multiculturalism has no alternative. Alternatives to it are disagreement, xenophobia, racism and fascism. I believe that in the 21st century, the progressive community should be more active in order to prevent these unpleasant tendencies. This activity should be complemented by different forms. I believe that the Forum ongoing in Baku will be an important contribution to our cause. But we should not limit our work to only holding the forums. We have to prepare a variety of activities, a variety of events. Serious actions should be taken to promote intercultural dialogue. It is gratifying that in the period after the first Forum, we have taken very important steps. I am sure that the results of this Forum will be very positive and this work will continue after it," President Aliyev said.
According to him, valuable opinions on important issues will be voiced at the Forum today and tomorrow.
"Holding the Forum is a significant event. I believe that holding the first Forum two years ago has also had a symbolic meaning. Over the past two years, development in Azerbaijan continued in all spheres. Very important activities related to the development of intercultural dialogue have been carried out," President Aliyev said.