The Azerbaijan State News Agency


Azerbaijan where various cultures merge opens the doors to one more grandiose world forum Representatives of five continents will take part in the World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue forthcoming on April 7-9 in Baku

Baku, March 28 (AZERTAC). As earlier stated, on April 7-9 current year Azerbaijan becomes a venue of one more grandiose international action – the World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue. First of all, it is necessary to note that carrying out in our republic for the first time in the world of so representative forum the main objective of which is – to take the initiatives realized by the Azerbaijan side in the field of intercultural dialogue from a regional plane on global level and to found in the country on a constant basis the International Forum, is impossible to regard accidentally.

If to pay attention to statistics and geography of the actions of the international level carried out last years in the field of intercultural and inter-civilizations dialogue you can clearly see that the overwhelming majority of initiatives in this sphere came from Azerbaijan which has already won on international arena the status of the country where various cultures merge. Certainly, exaggeration won`t tell that the authoritative international cultural actions realized in the country with assistance and direct organizational support of the president of Heydar Aliyev Foundation, UNESCO and ISESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Member of Parliament, the great patroness of the Azerbaijani culture Mehriban Aliyeva, have transformed our republic into the center of cultural life of the world. The idea of organization of the forthcoming World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue also belongs to our country, exactly, to the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev.

It is already confirmed officially that ministers of culture of 18 states will take part in the Forum due to start on 7 April in Baku (Czech Republic, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Thailand, Sudan, Afghanistan, Cuba, Ethiopia, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Qatar, Togo, Ukraine, Latvia, Montenegro), deputy ministers of some countries (Peru, Lithuania, Kuwait, Romania, Lithuania, Iraq), heads of the leading international organizations, including the Deputy Secretary General of UNESCO, Director General of ISESCO, the director of the Council of Europe Secretariat, as well as the president of Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, director of the UN WTO Partnership for Development Assistance program, managing director of CoE North-South Center, president of Crans Montana Forum, mayors of some world cities, renowned men of art and culture, diplomats, heads of authoritative think tanks and media groups. As a whole more than 400 persons are expected to join this landmark Forum to become the holiday of world culture. On the eve of grandiose action it would be noteworthy to underline that realization of the idea of carrying out of so representative international forum demanded long work. In other word, Azerbaijan had to overcome a three-year way to come to the World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue, the author of idea, the initiator and organizer of which is the head of our state.

In his speech at the conference taken place on December 2-3, 2008 in Baku of the ministers of culture of Europe and neighboring regions President of the Azerbaijan Republic Ilham Aliyev initiated the “Baku process”, providing development of dialogue between various cultures and civilizations. Later, at another forum hosted in the capital of Azerbaijan, also a representative international forum in this area, at the “round table” on the topic “Intercultural dialogue”», taken place in the frame of conference of the ministers of culture of the Islamic countries (October 13-15, 2009), it was adopted an official document under the name “The Baku process – a new challenge to dialogue between civilizations”.

In the documents adopted at the 26th meeting taken place on October 16-17, 2009 in Baku of the permanent Council TURKSOY, also was stressed the importance of continuation of “The Baku process” initiated by the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev. At last, initiatives and efforts of the Azerbaijani side in this direction yielded fruit. On presentation of the convention of UNESCO on May 20, 2010 in Baku about “Protection and Encouragement of a Variety of Forms of Cultural Self-expression” it was stated that as continuation of "The Baku process” at the initiative of the President of Azerbaijan the World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue will be held in April 2011 in Baku. In the framework of this action, Baku will be declared as the "World Capital of Dialogue”. President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev officially stated at the 65th session of the UN General Assembly on September 23, 2010 that the world forum on intercultural dialogue would take place in Baku in April 2011. The Head of State noted the initiative of the Azerbaijani side to hold such a representative forum in Baku for the first time in the world had been supported by a number of influential international organizations including UNESCO, Council of Europe, its North-South Center and UN Alliance of Civilizations. It was not only about support. Above-mentioned structures including UNESCO became international partners of the Baku forum. One of world`s most influential TV channels Euronews is a main media partner in organizing the forum at an international level. It is an evidence of how ambitious this event is and the great interest to it in the international arena. The Azerbaijan`s Ministry of Culture and Tourism and Euronews signed a contract under which the TV channel will provide coverage of the forum and air the material during the week 20 times in 10 languages. Actions to prepare for the forum and all international forums conducted so far in Azerbaijan give ground to assume that this ambitious meeting will make a huge contribution to bringing cultures and civilizations closer. Four sessions of the forum`s working group including representatives of the ministries of culture and tourism, foreign affairs of Azerbaijan, UNESCO, Council of Europe, its North-south Center and UN Alliance of Civilizations took place in Paris and Strasbourg in order to prepare for the Baku meeting. A plan of actions for the Baku forum was endorsed by the order of January 18, 2011 signed by Head of the Presidential Administration of Azerbaijan. The final session of the working group held on February 27-28 in Paris at the UNESCO headquarters elaborated on the build-up to the forum and outstanding tasks. Azerbaijan at the final session was represented by Deputy Minister of Culture and Tourism Sevda Mammadaliyeva, Coordinator of the World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue, chief of the ministry`s international ties department Vasif Eyvazzade, permanent representative of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the UNESCO Eleonora Huseynova, permanent representative of Azerbaijan to the Council of Europe Arif Mammadov, counselor of the country`s embassy to France Zaur Ahmadov and others. The session was attended by high-ranking representatives of respected international organizations including head of the UNESCO`s division Katerina Stenou, director of the Council of Europe`s department for culture, cultural and natural heritage Robert Palmer, senior advisor at the UN Alliance of Civilizations Jean-Christophe Bas, Director of the North-South Center of the Council of Europe Denis Huber, expert Robert Wilson and other officials. Discussions at the session were mainly concerned with working out a detailed program of the Baku forum, identifying moderators, rapporteurs and panelists, right organization of sessions, presentation of new projects and initiatives and other issues. A website of the Baku forum was presented to the participants of the meeting. At the final session, member of the working group, Deputy Minister of Culture and Tourism Sevda Mammadaliyeva briefed the participants on the Azerbaijani side`s work to organize the forum, our country`s efforts and measures to develop intercultural dialogue. Representatives of above-mentioned organizations praised Azerbaijan`s efforts to organize the forum and assured they would provide necessary assistance to make upcoming the first international-level event on intercultural dialogue successful in Baku. Discussions saw a draft program worked out with some amendments and panelists identified in a balanced order from geographical and religious points of view.Given the Baku forum will gather ministers from over 20 countries, it was decided to create conditions for presentations of 3-4 ministers at each session. It was proposed to set time limit for all presentations at no more than three minutes. Chairman, panelists and rapporters for each session were identified, the issue of preparation of one-page information featuring a theme of discussion at each session was agreed. On the eve of the day when the Azerbaijan`s capital will become an arena of dialogue of different cultures, we can say with confidence that Baku is totally ready for hosting such a representative meeting. By the way, given there will be an atmosphere of cultures of virtually all continents and peoples of the world in Baku on April 7-9, it is scheduled to lay a foundation of a “platform of intercultural cooperation - 5a” at the forum. 5a in the name of the platform signifies first letters in Azerbaijani of the names of continents, which will be represented at the event – Europe, Asia, America, Africa and Australia. Ideas on the eve of the forum voiced on the need to announce the city of Baku the “world capital of intercultural dialogue” may result in creation of legal and political basis for realizing this idea in the future. A proposal to conduct such the event once every two years called the Baku World Cultural Forum is expected to be made at the forum in order to make Azerbaijan the center of cultures and civilizations. There is no need to prove the huge importance of this.

Of course, by conducting such an event, Azerbaijan will make a valuable contribution to cooperation among international structures and as a country situated at the crossroads of North and South, East and West - to development and popularization of intercultural dialogue.

There are many themes to be discussed at the forum. Along with official sessions and events, special cultural programs dealing with intercultural dialogue will be organized as part of the forum. In addition, the Ministry of culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan and Federal Ministry of Education, Art and Culture of Austria will co-organize an exhibition entitled “Jews, Christians and Muslims: intercultural dialogue in the most ancient scripts”, which will feature old manuscripts. At the same time, a joint exhibition will be organized as part of the event by the UNESCO, Council of Europe and UN Alliance of Civilizations.

To enrich the program of the forum, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan does not only organize events as part of cooperation with international organizations and colleagues in other countries but also comes forward with its own initiatives. For example, the Ministry announced a national photo contest on intercultural dialogue as part of the forum. Winners of the contest will be named during the days of the forum. As a whole, the Azerbaijani side plans to make this project international.

In the course of the forum, an event called “Presentation of projects and initiatives” is scheduled to be held. The Council of Europe, UN Alliance of Civilizations, UNESCO, North-South Center of the Council of Europe and Azerbaijani side will present their projects and initiatives at the event.

Ongoing processes on the eve of the Baku forum, which will be an important event in the cultural life of the world, give ground to express the following optimistic opinion: issues, which will be discussed at this authoritative event, documents adopted and reports will allow making the world forum on intercultural dialogue regular and giving an impetus to its further development. Eventually, a new platform based on real results in this sphere will be formed in Azerbaijan where different cultures converge.

Ahmad Mammadov

AZERTAC correspondent

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