Details added, first version posted at 10:31
Baku, Azerbaijan, April 26
By Seymur Aliyev- Trend:
The UNAOC 7th Global Forum official ceremony took place today in Baku, where the country's President Ilham Aliyev made the opening speech.
The president welcomed the participants of the forum, in particular expressing gratitude to the founding fathers of the alliance,
He welcomed the participants of the forum.
"It is a big honor for us to host the 7th UNAOC Global Forum. We consider it a sign of appreciation of our activity and promotion of values of intercultural dialogue, multiculturalism," said the president in his opening speech.
"I'd like to express my gratitude to the founding fathers of the alliance - Turkey and Spain, President Erdogan and former Prime Minister Zapatero, for this extremely important initiative, which now lives for more than 10 years," Ilham Aliyev said.
The president went on to add that the idea of creation of the alliance was the sign of wisdom of the politicians, President Erdogan and former Prime Minister Zapatero, supported by international community.
"I'd also like to express my gratitude to the high representative UN High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser for his leadership, contribution and promotion of the values of peace, solidarity and friendship," said president Aliyev.
The president went on to say that Azerbaijan is proud to have the representatives of more than 140 countries gather in Baku to address the important issues of the alliance of civilizations.
He said that Azerbaijan, for centuries, was a place where religions, cultures and civilizations met.
"We're not only a geographic breach between East and West, but also a cultural breach. For centuries, representatives of religions, cultures lived in peace and dignity in Azerbaijan," he said. "Religious tolerance, multiculturalism - were always present here. There was no word - multiculturalism, but the ideas were always present."
Ilham Aliyev added that as a result of that, Azerbaijan today is a multiethnic, multiconfessional country, where representatives of all religions and ethnic groups live in dignity and peace.
"This is one of our biggest assets," he said. "And we're proud of our history. We are proud of our historical monuments, which reflect the creation of representatives of different cultures."
President reminded that one of the oldest mosques in the world, which was built in 743, is situated in Azerbaijani city of Shemakha.
"Also, one of the oldest churches in the Caucasus, the ancient church of ancient state Caucasian Albania is also situated in Azerbaijan, close to another ancient city of Sheki," he said.
The president said the Azerbaijani government invests in construction and renovation of mosques, orthodox and catholic churches, synagogues.
"This is our policy and this is our lifestyle," said the president. "For centuries, Azerbaijan is preserving this asset, regardless of political or social situation in the country."
Ilham Aliyev went on to add that Azerbaijan is relatively young as an independent country, only 25 years old, but it is ancient, with deep historical and cultural roots.
"Multiculturalism for us is a state policy," said the president. "We organize different events, addressing this important issue."
The president added that every two years, Intercultural dialogue forum takes place in Azerbaijan, and Baku International Humanitarian Forum is hosted regularly as well.
"The main idea is to bring the representatives of different religions together and how to establish more understanding between us," he said.
The president also reminded that Azerbaijan hosted the world summit of religious leaders, addressing important issues of interreligious dialogue.
"I think today this is one of the most important topics on global agenda," he said. "And the role of the alliance of civilizations is growing. Unfortunately, we see some very concerning trends in our region, in Europe, in the Middle East, on the area of former Soviet Union. We see clashes, confrontations, based on ethnic and religious grounds."
Azerbaijan's president said this is a very dangerous tendency.
"I think that gathering in Baku, at the UNAOC 7th Global Forum will address these issues and will contribute to the cause of solidarity, peace, mutual understanding and partnership."
"In 2008 we initiated the Baku Process, which already became the broad platform for international dialogue. Azerbaijan is one of the few countries, which is the member of the Islamic Cooperation Organization and the Council of Europe. So at the meeting of the ministers of culture of Council of Europe which took place in Baku, in 2008, we invited the ministers of cultures of the Islamic Cooperation Organization," said the president.
"For the first time, the ministers of cultures from more than 100 countries from these two organizations gathered in Baku," Ilham Aliyev said. "Next year, in 2009, we hosted the ministerial meeting of the ministers of cultures of the Islamic Cooperation Organization in Baku and invited the ministers of culture of Council of Europe."
"So this was named the Baku Process and we are very proud that the name of our ancient city is now also associated with a positive initiative," the president said.
He went on to add that this process is growing, getting more and more supporters.
"It is becoming a global initiative, which contributes to the cause of solidarity, mutual understanding and intercultural dialogue," the president said.
"Azerbaijan's geographic location is known, but at the same time our initiatives are aimed at strengthening the position of our country as a bridge between cultures, between civilizations, as a country which can and should contribute more to the cause of mutual understanding," President Aliyev said.
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