Mehriban Aliyeva: "Azerbaijan has much to offer the international community in terms of intercultural dialogue and tolerance"
Yesterday, Paris hosted a conference marking the 80th anniversary of Koichiro Matsuura, who in 1999-2009 served as the Director-General of UNESCO. He was born in Tokyo, studied law at the University of Tokyo and economics at Haverford College (Pennsylvania, USA), worked in the Japanese Foreign Ministry, and before being appointed Director-General of UNESCO worked as the Chairperson of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee.
First Vice-President of Azerbaijan Mehriban Aliyeva arrived in Paris to congratulate Mrs. Matsuura. Speaking at the conference, she noted that the reforms, in particular, the project "Education for All", held by Koichiro Matsuura, allowed strengthening UNESCO's prestige around the world. "Under your leadership, the relations between UNESCO and our country Azerbaijan became even stronger. With a sense of deep appreciation, we remember your visits to Baku and your personal involvement in joint forums and conferences. I recall your participation at the first international festival the World of Mugham. In your presence, we laid down the foundations of the State Museum of Azerbaijani Carpet and of the International Mugham Center. Together with you, we inaugurated the Museum of Modern Art. Today, these cultural centers have turned into the most visited places of interest in our capital."
In 2007, a document was signed on the joint implementation of the project for the development of vocational training in Azerbaijan. In 2009, the Agreement on Cooperation to Ensure Strategic Goals in Protecting Intangible Cultural Heritage. When Koichiro Matsuura was the head of UNESCO, Azerbaijani historical monuments - Icheri Sheher, Shirvanshahs’ Palace, Maiden Tower in Baku, as well as Gobustan rock paintings were inscribed into the list of UNESCO World Heritage. The pearls of Azerbaijani music - Mugham and Ashig art - have been included in the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
It’s also thanks to your efforts that back in 2004 I was honored to receive the distinguished title of UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Oral and Musical Tradition. Ever since I have tried to do my best to justify the trust shown to me. Dear Mr. Matsuura, We highly value your personal efforts in strengthening bilateral ties between Azerbaijan and UNESCO, "Mehriban Aliyeva said.
She also noted that Azerbaijan, as a country situated on the crossroads of civilizations, cultures, and religions, Azerbaijan has a lot to offer to the international community in terms of cultural dialogue, tolerance and respect toward others. Multiculturalism is a national policy in Azerbaijan and we cooperate with the international community, including UNESCO in promoting the values of multiculturalism.
This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Baku process. the initiative of which was put forward by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. The process was initiated as a platform for cooperation between member countries of the Council of Europe and members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. It was in 2008 that Azerbaijan as a member of both these international organizations initiated a meeting of the Ministers of Culture of OIC and Council of Europe in Baku. And this process continues to date and has already turned into a global platform in promoting intercultural and interreligious dialogue. In partnership with UNESCO, Baku organized four editions of World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue within the Baku Process and we are ready to continue this work in the future.
Development of human potential is another area to which UNESCO and Azerbaijan both attached big importance. "Quality education and culture are key elements for human development and it is proceeding from this importance that Azerbaijan has chosen the theme of “Developing Human Capital, Building a Better Future” when we put forward the candidacy of Baku as the venue for the World Expo 2025. If successful in our bid, we hope to be able to bring the whole world to Baku and to create a truly universal platform for exchange, dialogue and cooperation. Azerbaijan shows its strong attachment to the values and ideals of UNESCO also through our direct contribution to the protection of World Cultural Heritage and our pro-active humanitarian policy., " Mehrbian Aliyeva said.
Thus, by constructing a new school for girls Azerbaijan contributed to the efforts of international community to deal with the consequences of a terrible earthquake in 2005 in Muzaffarabad, Pakistan. In 2011, through an agreement with UNESCO, the country participated in the restoration of cultural heritage in Haiti that also suffered from an earthquake. Azerbaijan’s charity activity aimed at preservation or restoration of the World Cultural Heritage covers many countries like Berlin Castle in Germany, ancient monuments in Versailles, church in Lower Normandy and Louvre museum in France, ancient manuscripts and catacombs of Saint Marcellus and Peter and San Sebastian in the Vatican, Philosopher Hall in the Capitoline Museum in Italy, Trapezitsa Museum in Bulgaria, and so on.