"We have guests from more than 100 countries, more than 500 foreign representatives participate in the forum. This shows that the forum in a relatively short period of time transformed into a global platform to address one of the most important issues of today's agenda, issues of cultural dialogue".
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev at the opening ceremony of the 5th World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue under the motto "Building dialogue into action against discrimination, inequality and violent conflict” at the Heydar Aliyev Center, ONA reports citing the Presidential press service.
"I remember eight years ago, when we held the first forum probably we did not even imagine that the forum will get such a broad international support. Our initiative to organize world forum on intercultural dialogue in 2011, was based on our history, our geography, and our understanding that in order to make world safer we need to be very active on the issues of promotion dialogue between civilizations, between cultures, between representatives of different religions and ethnic groups. And broad international support which was shown to the forum encourages us. Today among organizers of the forum we have leading organizations of the world, and our joint efforts, joint activity contributes to the cause of intercultural dialogue. Azerbaijan is a place where, for centuries, representatives of different religions, ethnic groups have lived, created, communicated. For centuries Azerbaijan has been the land of religious tolerance, peaceful coexistence of representatives of different nationalities. Our history, our geography shows that only in the spirit of partnership, in the spirit of mutual respect we can achieve success," Azerbaijani President said.
The Head of State noted that Azerbaijan's rapid development is also based on this cultural heritage, also is driven by the solidarity which all the representatives of our society demonstrate. "We are proud of our history, we are proud of our historical monuments which also demonstrate that for centuries representatives of different religions have lived and created in Azerbaijan. We are proud of our ancient history. One of the oldest mosques in the world is situated in the ancient city of Shamakhi. One of the oldest churches in the Caucasus, the church of Caucasian Albania, is situated in our ancient city of Shaki. Our history is the history of cultural diversity and today based on that historical heritage Azerbaijan demonstrates to the world that intercultural dialogue is the only way how to bring countries closer, how to establish more bridges between representatives of different religions and civilizations."
According to Azerbaijani President multiculturalism for Azerbaijan is the way how we live. "This is a relatively new word but we have lived in this atmosphere for centuries. And the fact that 2016 was declared the year of multiculturalism in Azerbaijan demonstrates that we want to attract attention of the world to this important idea. 2017 was announced the year of Islamic Solidarity. That was also a symbolic step, demonstrating our historical heritage, our roots, and our openness to the world. And I think these tendencies, if they prevail, prevail globally will make our world safer, more predictable, and more peaceful. Multiculturalism for us also is one of the important elements of our policy and the international center of multiculturalism was created in Azerbaijan, and we are promoting these values, we are demonstrating that multiculturalism has a great future. We all know that there are different views regarding this issue. But I think our forum and numerous international events organized in Azerbaijan and different parts of the world with this agenda clearly shows that we are all trying to promote the values of multiculturalism."
Mr. Aliyev emphasized that the World forum on international dialogue, is one of the important international events globally, and of course for our country, but at the same time Azerbaijan during the last years hosted numerous international events, such as World Religious Leaders' Forum, traditional Baku Humanitarian Forum, seven times we organized Baku Global Forum, which is also a very important platform to address the issues of political development and cultural dialogue. "That forum is organized by Nizami Ganjavi International Center and many other important international events. Thus, we are trying to attract attention of the world community to these important issues. I am sure that the discussions at the forum today and tomorrow will not only reveal the problems and allow the speakers to express their views but will also contribute to strengthening the partnership, solidarity, cooperation and as a result will build more bridges between cultures. Last year, we celebrated the tenth anniversary of Baku Process. This is also an initiative that we are proud of. I remember when we launched this initiative in 2008, it immediately got very positive international approach and attention. That was for the first time, when Azerbaijan brought together ministers of cultures of member states of the Council of Europe, and member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and more than hundred countries got together in Baku, in order to discuss the prospects for cooperation. We organized another session with participation of above mentioned ministers in 2009. And this initiative was named Baku process, and today Baku process is one of the most important instruments of dialogue between Europe and the Muslim World."
President Aliyev said that Azerbaijan as one of the few countries which is the member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and European institutions is playing its natural and positive role in establishment of contacts in providing opportunities for dialogue-dialogue what Azerbaijan need. "We need dialogue in issues related to culture, in issues related to inter-religious relations. We need dialogue on all the issues. Political agenda, on economic cooperation, on issues related to security, and the name of the forum is dialogue. So, that is what we present to the world and that's what gets very broad international support. So, Baku process today is an initiative which is supported by United Nations, by other leading international organizations and of course, I am sure that Baku process has a great future. The forums like this attracts attention of international community to the issues of cultural dialogue. It elaborates new ideas, new approaches and for those, who make decisions in different countries and international organizations, I think this is a very good and positive platform to make right decisions. Azerbaijan in this respect, inside the country and outside, conducts the policy which is based on mutual understanding, on cooperation, we are building bridges. We are situated between Europe and Asia, and our geography of course, influenced our history, and is influencing our today's development."