Baku, Azerbaijan, Apr. 29
Azerbaijan is an example of tolerance for the whole world, Jean-Francois Mancel, member of the National Assembly of France, president of Azerbaijan's association of friends in the country told Trend.
"Unfortunately, nowadays there are transnational, inter-ethnic and inter-religious conflicts in various regions of the world," Jean-Francois Mancel said.
Speaking about the conflicts in the today's world, Mancel mentioned the VII Global Forum of the UN Alliance of Civilizations as one of the forums of global importance dedicated to tolerance and peaceful settlement of such conflicts.
The VII Global Forum of the UN Alliance of Civilizations was held in Baku April 25-27.
"Holding the VII Global Forum of the UN Alliance of Civilizations in Baku is of crucial importance," Mancel said. "Carrying out an event of such a scale in current conditions namely in Azerbaijan is a bright example of the fact that the international community considers Baku the center of tolerance. I don't know any other country where people of different nationalities and religions would peacefully coexist for centuries."
He went on to add that Baku's election as the venue for holding the regular Global Forum of the UN Alliance of Civilizations itself shows the recognition of the Azerbaijan's prestige in the world.
"The realities of Azerbaijan must be brought to the attention of the international community, and that's namely the purpose of the association headed by me," Mancel said.
"All our efforts are aimed at promoting Azerbaijan in France, and we still have a lot to do in this direction," he said. "Azerbaijan and France have a lot in common: both countries cherish their independence. Azerbaijan is an original country known worldwide for its tolerance and peacefulness. These qualities are of particular importance in today's world."
Mancel said that the association carries out wide activities to acquaint the French public with the realities of Azerbaijan, regularly holds colloquia, international conferences with the participation of politicians and public figures from both countries, familiarizes French society with the social and political life of the country, the priorities of its foreign policy.
Of course, the main topic of these meetings is the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which Azerbaijan has faced, its consequences, said the head of the association.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts. The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts.
The Association of Friends of Azerbaijan in France has set a task for itself to influence the policy of France in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in order for a faithful and fair way for its settlement to be found in accordance with the norms and principles of international law, Mancel said.
The association will continue making efforts to attract the French public's attention to this problem, Jean-Francois Mancel said.
"I would like to express my special gratitude to the first lady of Azerbaijan, President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Mehriban Aliyeva for the support of our mission to raise awareness about Azerbaijan among the French public," said Jean-Francois Mancel.
"Azerbaijan is a country with rich traditions, and my fellow citizens show great interest in its culture and history," said the president of the association.
"Azerbaijani music touches the soul of the French, no matter whether it's mugham, jazz or ethnic music, etc.," he said, adding that recently, the performance of a dance group was organized in France at the association's invitation, and the audience loved it.
"The association also held events on the occasion of the Novruz holiday in three cities of France," he said. "Thus, we try to acquaint the French with rich culture and art of Azerbaijan."
Jean-Francois Mancel also mentioned the project "Azerbaijani Village", which has been implemented jointly with the Heydar Aliyev Foundation for the past two years.
"The main purpose of organizing the village is that Azerbaijan become more popular abroad, particularly in France and the country's capital," said the president of the association.
"Throughout all the time of its activity, the "Azerbaijani Village" is transformed into a space that reflects the culture, history, art, music, cuisine, traditions, the past and present of Azerbaijan. Both inhabitants of Paris and tourists get complete information about Azerbaijan."
Mancel said that the implementation of the project "Azerbaijani Village" has already become a tradition. In 2014, first such village was created on Saint-Sulpice Square in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, and the public met it with great interest. Last year, such village was opened in the 1st arrondissement of Paris on the famous Parisian Palais Royal Square in front of the Louvre Museum.
"The aim of all these projects implemented with the support of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation is to bring our peoples closer, strengthen friendly relations and bring the truth about Azerbaijan to the French public," said Jean-Francois Mancel.