Edward Rowe: Azerbaijan is doing a very good job
9th Summer Multiculturalism School has kicked off in Baku today. It's traditionally organized in the capital of Azerbaijan for students and researchers by the Baku International Center for Multiculturalism. On the sidelines of this event, Vestnik Kavkaza spoke with director of the American Sterling Foundation, Edward Rowe, discussing Azerbaijan’s contribution to the world multicultural movement.
- What do you think about today's event?
- I’m very pleased to be here in Baku and to be a part of this important multicultural interfaith event. The importance of this event is to be able to come together as people from many different backgrounds – ethnic, religious, culture – and bridge our relationships so that we can learn to work together. And especially with the youth to teach them how to participate in this types of interfaith and multicultural dialogues with the hope that they return to their home countries with two things. One is the ability to implement the things they learnt. So that they can bring people together with different backgrounds, to work together for good, but also for they can experience the wonderful culture of Azerbaijan as well.
- Do such events help to improve the image of Azerbaijan in the international arena?
I am returning to Baku after twenty years. I lived here with my family. At that time, I worked as a lawyer in the energy sector. And so returning now is a wonderful opportunity. When I lived here before, we felt very much the hospitality and enjoyed very much the culture of Azerbaijan and his people. Coming back now, witnessing the incredible development that is taking place is wonderful but at the same time, feeling the same hospitality, the same culture that we grew to love so much.
- What connects you and Azerbaijan?
When I was here 20 years ago I was very much involved in working with the energy sector, representing the Consortium of energy companies, including SOCAR, and development of their energy projects. And I am amazed that the progress has been made. In the last several years, I’ve been less involved in these issues so I haven’t followed it specifically, particularly the projects you’ve mentioned. But I would say that Azerbaijan is doing a very good job. They have been able to develop its projects in the way that takes into consideration the various interests, international interest of some important global. So I think for Azerbaijan continue to develop its resources in a way that meets interests of its own nation but also takes into account the interests of its neighbors and another strategic allies. I think it’s very important and I think they will continue doing a good job. I think it’s important for the international community to understand the history of Azerbaijan, its being multicultural and tolerant. And number 2 is the desire of Azerbaijan to express through holding these types of conferences to bridge these differences. Because Azerbaijan with its own experience, Nagorno-Karabakh and other issues, very much understands the challenges and the difficulties that can rise when a conflict erupts over differences among different peoples.
- What's your foundation's program?
I am director of the Sterling Foundation. This is a private foundation that headquartered in the State of Utah, the U.S. This foundation is focused on building bridges between individuals, families, cultures, peoples in order to accomplish good purposes – reliving suffering, overcoming misunderstandings, conflicts, education. A number of different projects we are involved internationally. We do work in all parts of the world but feel very impressed to be a part of supporting interfaith dialogue as a way to promote peace, to faster human dignity and common understanding.