President Aliyev: Multiculturalism in Azerbaijan is tradition (UPDATE)

Details added, first version posted at 10:05

Baku, Azerbaijan, Sept. 29

The V Baku International Humanitarian Forum has kicked off on Sept. 29 in the Heydar Aliyev center in Baku. President Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva are taking part in the opening ceremony of the forum.

President Aliyev has delivered a speech at the opening of the event.

“The fifth Baku International Humanitarian Forum is beginning. I sincerely greet all the guests who have come to our country to take part in this forum. Welcome to Azerbaijan,” said President Aliyev.

The president noted that more than 400 representatives from around 80 countries are participating in this forum and this itself is an indicator.

The forum has gained great respect on the international arena in recent years and it holds a special place among international events, said President Aliyev, adding that Azerbaijan has always paid great attention to international humanitarian cooperation.
“We believe that positive tendencies should be strengthened in the world,” he noted.

“International cooperation plays a special role in developing interstate relations. For this purpose, we have held a number of international events in our country in recent years. The International Humanitarian Forum holds a special place among them,” said the president.

“Our country holds the Forum on Intercultural Dialogue every two years. Baku hosted the Summit of World Religious Leaders several years ago and the 7th Global Forum of UN Alliance of Civilizations was held this year,” added President Aliyev.

Wide discussions were held and the international humanitarian cooperation, multiculturalism and other important issues were discussed during all those international events, according to the president.

The president noted that in 2016 alone, Baku hosted Formula 1 and World Chess Olympiad for the first time.

“Last year, Baku hosted the First European Games for the first time in the history. This is an indicator, because the First European Games were held in a Muslim country and this can be assessed as Azerbaijan’s contribution to the interreligious and intercultural dialogue,” said President Aliyev.

“Next year, Baku will host the fourth Islamic Solidarity Games. That’s to say, in just two years, the city has hosted the European Games and will host the Islamic Solidarity Games,” said the president.

“Today’s Azerbaijan is moving on this path. There are many purposes of holding these international events in our country. First of all, this is necessary for our country, because, Azerbaijan is a multiconfessional, multinational country. Representatives of all religions, nations live in Azerbaijan as one family. They should even more closely combine their efforts," he said.

In his speech, the president of Azerbaijan said that the country's history is built on multiculturalism.

Despite that this word is new, in Azerbaijan multiculturalism is a tradition, which lives on, said Ilham Aliyev.

He said that representatives of all nationalities and peoples live in peace and friendship in Azerbaijan. This is our big treasure, said the president.

The president also noted that it's no coincidence that this year was proclaimed the Year of Multiculturalism in Azerbaijan.

Unfortunately, some say that the policy of multiculturalism has failed and that this is a dangerous phenomenon, said the president.

“Regretfully, currently, unpleasant tendencies prevail in the world. There are bloody clashes, wars in various regions and bloodshed occurs on religious and national grounds,” said President Aliyev. “The intensification of international humanitarian cooperation can, to some extent, prevent those negative tendencies and strengthen the positive trends.”

Further, the president noted that Azerbaijan is a member of the Council of Europe and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the country plays an active role in both of these organizations.

“At Azerbaijan’s initiative, both of these organizations have adopted very fair resolutions in line with the international law on the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which is the most painful problem for us. Armenia has been indicated as an occupier in those resolutions,” said President Aliyev.

“We successfully continue our activities in these two organizations,” said the president, adding that the Council of Europe and OIC bring together more than one hundred states.

The president pointed out that currently, Azerbaijan as an independent state makes contribution to the development of multiculturalism.
Such events and the policy pursued in Azerbaijan in everyday life strengthen these positive tendencies, he added.

“I would also like to note that representatives of all nations and religions live as one family, in a peaceful and friendly atmosphere in Azerbaijan. There has never been a confrontation or a disagreement on religious and national grounds in our country. This is our great wealth,” said President Aliyev.

“History of all religions, the religious monuments are protected by the state. At the same time, the state ensures the restoration of those monuments with its own funds,” said the president. “Mosques, churches, synagogues are built and repaired in Azerbaijan. We celebrate all our religious holidays together.”

“We are proud of our history and our culture. Today, one of the oldest mosques of the world is situated in Azerbaijan. The Mosque of Shamakhi in the city of Shamakhi was built in 743 and currently, operates after restoration. At the same time, such a historical monument as the Church of Caucasian Albania, which is one of the oldest churches in Caucasus, is situated near the city of Shaki. Currently, that historical monument also operates after restoration and attracts many tourists,” said the president.

“The old monument of Zoroastrianism, the monument, the temple of fire worship near Baku is preserved today. This is our history,” said President Aliyev.

The president added that representatives of various religions and cultures have lived in Azerbaijan throughout history. “Perhaps, it is not accidental that namely Azerbaijan was chosen for living together, because, these tendencies have always prevailed in our country, in our land. This is a state policy today as well and we will further pursue this policy,” he said.

“This state policy is gaining great sympathy in the country. Meanwhile, this is the society’s mood, because, the state policy can be pursued successfully when the society positively reacts to this and vice-versa, the positive mood in the society and the tendencies related to multiculturalism even more strengthen our state policy,” added the president.

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