Paris hosts presentation of "The Dreamlife of Yvonne Botto" book

Paris, November 22, AZERTAC

A Permanent Delegation of the Republic of Azerbaijan to UNESCO and the European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS) have jointly organized a presentation of Shain Sinaria's "La vie revee d'Yvonne Botto" (The Dreamlife of Yvonne Botto) book at UNESCO headquarters in Paris.

In his opening remarks, head of the Permanent Delegation of the Republic of Azerbaijan to UNESCO Anar Karimov highlighted the tolerance and multiculturalism in the country.

"Azerbaijan is one of the cradles of humanity and an example of peaceful coexistence between people of different nationalities and religions. My country became synonymous of acceptance and tolerance, trust and confidence between people of different faiths who enjoy peaceful coexistence and live with mutual respect for each other.

For centuries a multitude of religions have coexisted in the same territory, from the Zoroastrians (fire worshippers) to the early Christians, and then Jews and Muslims. Besides the Muslims, which represent the majority of the population, a Christian community as well as a large Jewish community are both living peacefully and have a long history in the region. Azerbaijan has historically hosted one of the world's earliest Christian and Jewish communities. These communities have always represented an integral and important part of culture and society of Azerbaijan and even today they continue to enrich and develop our culture as the most vibrant religious reality."

"It is not a coincidence that in a recent visit to Baku in October 2016, Pope Francis after meeting with President and later on with leaders and representatives of three religious communities in interreligious meeting at the country's largest mosque, praised Azerbaijan as a place of religious tolerance.

And what is more important that these centuries old traditions of respect and tolerance of the people who strongly believe in peaceful coexistence is something natural and deeply enrooted in culture of our people," Anar Karimov said.

"But of course all positive phenomena need particular and well calibrated policy that will cherish and preserve it for future generations and nowadays multiculturalism is a state policy of Azerbaijan and it has become a way of life of the people and Government ensuring mutual understanding and respect for all identities. The year 2016 has been declared the Year of Multiculturalism in Azerbaijan, as stated by President Ilham Aliyev on January 10. This decision was made taking into account the fact that Azerbaijan brings an important contribution to the traditions of tolerance and intercivilization dialogue," Karimov added.

"Our strength is to understand that multiculturalism can be adopted as a public policy as well and to believe that each cultural system has its own originality, which attests to the creativity of humans. Because of its nature of crossroad of religions and civilizations Baku is also conceived as the one of the best places for the promotion of intercultural dialogue. With this intention, over the last decade, the government has organized numerous initiatives such as the one known as "Baku Process" for the promotion of intercultural dialogue. The idea behind that initiative was to contribute to the dialogue and to facilitate mutual understanding between people belonging to different cultures. The Baku Process is excellent occasion for all of us to highlight the vital role of cultural policy and to confirm our intention to do more and more to promote peace and harmony with each others. Through these initiatives we pursue the dream of advancement of peace in the world, which is continuously hampered by clashes ignited by negative ideologies and intolerance."

"Azerbaijan has promoted mutual respect from the earliest time and has always rejected any form of radicalism or extremism. Despite the fact that my country faced in early days of restoration of its independence the military occupation and ethnic cleansing of about one million people from the occupied territories and Armenia, the government still believes in power of dialogue and tries on daily basis to do its best to make the world a better place encouraging peace between people of different nationalities and religions," Anar Karimov said.

"Today's event dedicated to the book "La vie revee d'Yvonne Botto" written by distinguished author Mr.Shain Sinaria who is honoured us with his presence.

But in short this book tells us an incredible story of true love and self-sacrifice, story of dialogue, through the extraordinary life of one French woman. The woman who had left her native country France, her family and her beloved ones during Second World War and chose hardships and completely different linguistic, cultural and religious environment but to be side by side with Azerbaijani husband, prisoner of war. Now she lives in Azerbaijan for more than 60 years and became a real symbol of love. She embodies both dialogue and multiculturalism in herself. The woman became a human bridge between nations and cultures. Unfortunately, due to her health conditions she is not able to be with us today but her cousin Marcelle Botto kindly agreed to join us today to whom I am deeply thankful.

Last but not least I want to thank The European Azerbaijan Society and its representative in France Ms Marie Laetitita Gourdin for this initiative and tremendous support in organization of today's presentation. The European Azerbaijan Society shortly TEAS is a UK-registered pan-European organisation dedicated to raising awareness of Azerbaijan and fostering closer economic, political and cultural links between Azerbaijan and Europe. I would like to emphasize that it is TEAS who found Yvonne nene, we call her in our language as grandmother Yvonne in a remote village in Azerbaijan and organized her visit to France and to her native city, where she met with her family members and visited the graves of her parents."

Addressing the event, Director of the Division of Social Transformations and Intercultural Dialogue of UNESCO's Social and Human Sciences Sector Dendev Badarch hailed the value of the book.

He thanked the Azerbaijani government for its support for “Developing e-learning resources for the promotion of intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding" project.

Head of the French office of TEAS Marie-Laetitia Gourdin highlighted the story of her acquaintance with Yvonne Botto and her family.

Marie-Laetitia Gourdin noted that French President Francois Hollande met with Yvonne Botto during his visit to Azerbaijan in May 2014, and described her as the best example of friendship between the two countries.

Speaking at the event, Yvonne Botto's cousin Marseille Botto gave detailed information about her family and youth.

The event continued with a concert featuring performance of People's Artist Anvar Sadigov and Honored Artist, jaz master Emil Afrasiyab.

Shahla Aghalarova

Special Correspondent

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