Elkhan Usubov: "The inscription of Sheki to the UNESCO World Heritage List is the result of the state’s great work"
Yesterday, the Historic Center of the ancient Azerbaijani city of Sheki, along with the Khan’s Palace was included to the UNESCO World Heritage List at the 43rd session of the World Heritage Committee in Baku. Earlier, the Historical Center of Baku - Icherisheher with the Shirvanshah’s Palace and Maiden Tower and the Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape were inscribed to the list. An inclusion to the UNESCO list provides a priority in raising funds to support the objects of the world cultural and natural heritage, primarily from the World Heritage Fund. The head of the city executive power, Elkan Usubov told Vestnik Kavkazka about the further development of Sheki.
- What does this victory mean for your city? What are the next steps of executive power?
- This victory was the result of a large six-year work, first of all, of the Ministry of Culture, the Academy of Sciences, the executive branch of the city. Many international experts were involved. The main thing for us was the attraction of the tourist flow to Sheki, and it worked out. Under the instructions of the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, the number of international events that we held has increased - the Silk Road Music Festival, Theatrical Festival, the Festival of Sweets, etc. In 2016, we were elected the capital of the International Organization of Turkic Culture (TURKSOY), in 2017 we were included in the UNESCO list as the most creative city of artisans, and yesterday, a very important thing that we were striving for happened. Speaking about the growth of tourist flow, it is worth noting that there are certain categories of tourists who visit exactly the cities included to the UNESCO list. It is very important for us, because it is our culture, and it’s prestigious to get to such a list.
- How does the decision to include Sheki on the UNESCO World Heritage List transform the north-west of Azerbaijan? Do you expect growth of the tourist flow?
- Azerbaijan is developing, regions are purposefully developing. There are 84 historical monuments in Sheki. We have an Albanian Monastery of the 1st century, the 1st millennium BC necropolis, the Khan Saray - in 2012, we celebrated its 250th anniversary. A huge number of tourists come to our region to relax and see the historical monuments. At yesterday’s meeting, it was said that we still have a lot to do. This suggests that the work is going on.
- Will the authorities now work on branding the territory?
- The fact that the project was supported by the President of Azerbaijan, as well as the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, first of all, its leader Mehriban Aliyeva, confirms the seriousness of this process. The latest presidential decrees underline the attention of the state. The creation of a tourism agency and the transfer to its balance of the historical part of the monuments show a serious attitude.