Azerbaijan introduces its candidate for UNESCO director-general

Azerbaijan introduces its candidate for UNESCO director-general

Paris-based UNESCO, the international organization dedicated to co-operation in education, science and culture, is seeking a new director-general to lead it for a new four-year term beginning January 2018, writes Colin Stevens in EU Reporter and its article Azerbaijan introduces its candidate for UNESCO director-general

The Republic of Azerbaijan has put forward Polad Bülbüloğlu (pictured), actor, politician, and diplomat as its candidate for the top job. Bülbüloğlu became famous in the Soviet Union with composing jazz-influenced pop songs which has heavy Azeri folk feelings in Russian and Azerbaijani languages. Bülbüloğlu managed the Azerbaijan SSR Stage Ensemble (from 1976) and the Azerbaijan National Philharmonic Orchestra for several years (from 1987), and in 1988 became the Culture Minister of the Azerbaijan SSR. In 1995 he joined the National Assembly of Azerbaijan. This man of many talents was recently introduced as the Azerbaijan candidate at an event at the Azerbaijani Cultural Centre in Paris, under the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.

Bülbüloğlu spoke of his vision for leading UNESCO into a new era, and the challenges of making it fit for purpose. “My belief in UNESCO and in the power of its work for the greater good of humankind is boundless,” said Bülbüloğlu. “If you choose to entrust me with leading this precious organization, I pledge to work constructively and transparently with all parties and stakeholders – member states, national commissions, the private sector, civil society, non-governmental organizations, the scientific community, the members of countless professional and institutional associations that operate under the auspices of UNESCO, with our many partners within the United Nations system, and of course with our exceptional staff, one of the great assets of our organization.” When asked which of his many qualities as an artist, manager or diplomat would be most important in leading UNESCO he said, surprisingly, “crisis management”.

He said that UNESCO has a duty to be more efficient at all levels of the organization in the pursuit of its goals. He said that through direct engagement and close partnership with all member states beyond politics, through hard work and strong will, UNESCO’s core ideals can be made a reality. “The efficiency of UNESCO’s work must be evaluated through a set of measurable normative indicators,” said Bülbüloğlu. “The efficiency of each and every programme and project must be reviewed and kept under control. This will lead to a more effective and rational use of resources. “But our main indicator must be the well-being of every person on our planet. We need to continue our work to improve access to education for all, to preserve our rich heritage, to save the environment for future generations, to secure universal access to information, science and technology and to realise equal opportunities for everyone regardless of race, ethnicity, religion and gender. This is how we must build the defences of peace in the minds of men and women.”

After the serious speeches the artist and entertainer inside Polad Bülbüloğlu could not resist making an appearance, and he delighted all the guests with a virtuoso jazz piano performance and songs which made him such a much loved household name though out the former Soviet Union.