Baku, Azerbaijan, Aug. 26
UNESCO and Azerbaijan have fruitful cooperation, which has existed for more than 20 years, according to the Director General of UNESCO Irina Bokova.
Bokova expressed her satisfaction with the mentioned cooperation, saying it is expanding rapidly in education, sciences, communication and especially in the field of culture.
"In this regard, I would like to express my gratitude to the authorities of the Republic of Azerbaijan, as well as to the first lady, Ms. Mehriban Aliyeva, whom our organization is pleased to count among its goodwill ambassadors since 2004," she said.
UNESCO director general also recalled that she took part in the 3rd World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue, held in Baku on May 18-19.
She said the forum aimed to reaffirm the need to consolidate and intensify dialogue among peoples from different cultures, religions or beliefs in order to create, at the national, regional and global levels, an environment conducive to respect for cultural diversity, human rights and mutual understanding.
"Since its initiation in 2008, the World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue, also known as the 'Baku Process', has become a global platform for exchange and discussion on major contemporary challenges pertaining to intercultural dialogue and the sharing of related universal values, which have become pressing issues to address in our globalized world and increasingly diverse societies," Bokova further said.
"UNESCO was proud to co-organize this forum with the Government of Azerbaijan, the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, the World Tourism Organization, the Council of Europe, as well as the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization," she said.
"I am equally pleased that this Forum provided strategic impetus and showcased the objectives of the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures (2013-2022), for which UNESCO is the lead agency within the United Nations system," Bokova said. "I take this opportunity to renew my thanks to Ms Aliyeva for her continued support to our Organization in this important domain."
Further speaking, Bokova recalled and welcomed the first European Games, which were held in Baku this year from 12 to 28 June.
Bokova said that UNESCO is the United Nations agency mandated to promote sport and physical education through concerted, collaborative and participatory action to support the rounded development of every individual.
"The practice of sport is a recognized instrument for promoting peace, as it disregards both geographical borders and social classes," she said. "It also plays a significant role as a promoter of social integration and economic development in different geographical, cultural and political contexts."
"Our organization's vision is clear, sport is a powerful tool to strengthen social ties and networks, and to promote ideals of peace, fraternity, solidarity, non-violence, tolerance and justice. Also, sport is essential to youth, to healthy lives, and to resilient societies," Bokova said.
"I take this opportunity to congratulate, once again, Ms. Mehriban Aliyeva for her personal commitment and support to these games in her capacity as a chairperson of the Organizing Committee," Bokova said. "Ms. Aliyeva's support in this field is in line with our organization's efforts to promote and develop sport and physical education and to ensure that they form an integral part of national and development strategies."
UNESCO head also mentioned close cooperation of the organization with the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, chaired by Mehriban Aliyeva, to achieve strategic goals and program objectives by undertaking activities in the fields of UNESCO's activities.
She went on to add that the Heydar Aliyev Foundation had already provided financial support for projects aimed at building and strengthening the capacities in African countries.
She also emphasized the importance of other projects undertaken by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation at the international level, such as the construction of a secondary school for girls in Pakistan as well as the project aiming to safeguard the intangible cultural heritage in Haiti.
"All these projects are in line with UNESCO's core mandate," she said.
In her capacity as President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, Mehriban Aliyeva continues to support the projects and activities in the crucial fields such as cultural diversity as well as intercultural dialogue, Bokova said.
"In this regard, I would like to reiterate my sincere gratitude for Ms. Aliyeva's unerring support to UNESCO, and to express my appreciation for her continued support to our programs and activities," she said. "I am confident that our fruitful cooperation will continue to grow in the years to come."