Baku creates conditions for decreasing tensions between the West and the Islamic world

The UNAOC 7th Global Forum official ceremony took place today in Baku. The Forum is focused on decreasing tensions between the Western world and Islamic world, which is such an acute topic in the current conditions. The Spanish Premier Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and his Turkish colleague Recep Erdogan initiated activation of international activities against extremism through building the intern-ethnic, inter-cultural, and inter-religious dialogue 12 years ago.

Along with heads of states and government, socio-political activists, representatives of international structures, think tanks, scientists, the Baku forum was visited by representatives of UNESCO, the World Tourism Organizations, ISESCO, and the Council of Europe – more than 3 thousand people from 140 countries.

The Foreign Minister of Spain Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, the President of Turkey Recep Erdogan, and the President of Azerbaijan Iham Aliyev have already made a speech in the Baku Congress Center. Aliyev considered hosting the Forum a sign of appreciation of Azerbaijan’s activity and promotion of values of intercultural dialogue, multiculturalism.

Azerbaijan today is a multiethnic, multiconfessional country, where representatives of all religions and ethnic groups live in dignity and peace. “This is one of our biggest assets. And we're proud of our history. We are proud of our historical monuments, which reflect the creation of representatives of different cultures,” Aliyev said and reminded that one of the oldest mosques in the world, which was built in 743, is situated in Azerbaijani city of Shemakha. Also, one of the oldest churches in the Caucasus, the ancient church of ancient state Caucasian Albania is also situated in Azerbaijan, close to another ancient city of Sheki.

The Azerbaijani government invests in construction and renovation of mosques, orthodox and catholic churches, synagogues. "This is our policy and this is our lifestyle. For centuries, Azerbaijan is preserving this asset, regardless of political or social situation in the country," Aliyev said.

Every two years, Intercultural dialogue forum takes place in Azerbaijan, and Baku International Humanitarian Forum is hosted regularly as well, the main idea of which is to bring the representatives of different religions together and how to establish more understanding between us. Azerbaijan also hosted the world summit of religious leaders.

Azerbaijan believes building the inter-religious dialogue is one of the most important topics on global agenda. “Unfortunately, we see some very concerning trends in our region, in Europe, in the Middle East, on the area of former Soviet Union. We see clashes, confrontations, based on ethnic and religious grounds," Ilham Aliyev said and expressed a hope that the UNAOC 7th Global Forum would address these issues and will contribute to the cause of solidarity, peace, mutual understanding and partnership.

"In 2008 we initiated the Baku Process, which already became the broad platform for international dialogue. Azerbaijan is one of the few countries, which is the member of the Islamic Cooperation Organization and the Council of Europe. So at the meeting of the ministers of culture of Council of Europe which took place in Baku, in 2008, we invited the ministers of cultures of the Islamic Cooperation Organization," the President reminded. For the first time, the ministers of cultures from more than 100 countries from these two organizations gathered in Baku. In 2009, Baku hosted the ministerial meeting of the ministers of cultures of the Islamic Cooperation Organization in Baku and invited the ministers of culture of Council of Europe. This was named the Baku Process and we are very proud that the name of our ancient city is now also associated with a positive initiative. Now this process is becoming a global initiative, which contributes to the cause of solidarity, mutual understanding and intercultural dialogue," Ilham Aliyev said.

In 2011, with the support of 155 countries, Azerbaijan for the first time was elected as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. That was a sign that within the short period of 25 years, we managed to present ourselves as a reliable international partner, as a country with independent foreign policy, country which contributes to regional development, regional security, stability and multiculturalism. All the freedoms are provided in Azerbaijan, freedom of media, free internet, as more than 70 percent of our population are internet users, freedom of assembly, religious freedom.

Last year Baku was very proud to host the First inaugural European Games in Baku, and next year Baku will host the Fourth Islamic Solidarity Games in Baku. So, in one city in two years time, European and Islamic athletes will perform. “This is not only sport and achievement of medals. This is friendship, mutual understanding, solidarity, partnership. There is nothing to divide between us," he continued. "We are all living on the same planet, all the people want to live in dignity, peace, security, to raise children, to protect their families. All religions advocate for the same values - humanity, mercy, solidarity, peace. Uniting our efforts is what the world needs to do," Ilham Aliyev said and added that the Baku forum is a clear indicator that the ideas of multiculturalism are strongly supported by international community.

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