4th World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue Kicks Off in Baku
The 4th World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue will be held on 5-6 May in Baku under the auspices of H.E. Mr. Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan in cooperation with UNESCO, UN Alliance of Civilizations, UN World Tourism Organization, Council of Europe, ISESCO, North-South Center of the Council of Europe, Republic of Azerbaijan. The opening ceremony of the Forum will be held on 5 May 2017.
The 4th World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue will focus on the topics such as the role of faith, religions, migration, human security, sport, education, art, sustainable development, violent extremism, business in building trust and cooperation among cultures and civilizations. The Forum will provide a platform for discussing the way forward to build societies based on genuine respect for everyone’s rights including freedom of belief, equal opportunities, and good governance as well as an inclusive framework of tolerance and respect for diversity. By bringing together heads of governments, ministers, heads of international organizations, senior policy makers, cultural professionals, goodwill ambassadors, experts, journalists, practitioners, prominent intellectuals and activists, the Forum will become an international platform to enable and encourage people, countries and organisations around the globe to take concrete actions to support diversity, dialogue and mutual understanding among nations by raising awareness on the importance of intercultural dialogue worldwide.
Traditionally, Bulgaria as a country with deep roots of tolerance and multiculturalism has been represented at the previous Forums at a very high level. The Bulgarian delegation is expected to attend the 4th World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue this time as well.
TOLERANCE as a brand name for AZERBAIJAN
Azerbaijan is a special and unique place where different cultures and civilizations meet at a crossroads between the East and West, North and South. With a foot in both Asia and Europe, and concurrent membership of both Islamic and European international organizations, Azerbaijan absorbs the values of the different civilizations, thus enabling it to assume a role as a genuine bridge. Azerbaijan is a country of centuries-old culture, history and ancient communities, whose lifestyle presents a distinctive and harmonious combination of the traditions and ceremonies of different cultures and civilizations. The specificities of the historical development of Azerbaijan, its geographical position and the national composition of the population created favourable conditions for the spread of different religions and cultures in the country. Islam, Judaism, Christianity, and other religious and beliefs managed to spread over the country in different periods of time, interacted with one another and established the specific religious and cultural life in the country. Through this experience, Azerbaijan has built a culture of acceptance, tolerance, trust and confidence where people of difference of faith, be they Muslims, Jews and Christians enjoy peaceful coexistence and live with mutual respect for each other; and they have done so for centuries.
Living alongside the Christian and Muslim communities is a thriving Jewish community of about 30,000 which too has a long heritage in Azerbaijan dating back over two thousand years. The three major religions have prospered because of the age-old respect and tolerance of the Azerbaijani people, who pride themselves on peaceful coexistence.
Azerbaijan sees diversity as one of the country’s great strengths and values, and has worked to ensure that this diversity continues to blossom. The Government has built and rebuilt synagogues, mosques, and churches; created new cultural centres for different faiths; and financially supported all three religions without discrimination.
Azerbaijan’s historical, cultural and economic distinctiveness has developed the mentality of Azerbaijan people and the entirely population of the country has been forming during the centuries in the spirit of tolerance and respect to different cultures and nationalities.
With this commitment and with Azerbaijan at the crossroads of different cultures and civilizations, Mr. Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan initiated the “Baku Process” for the promotion of intercultural dialogue in 2008. The Baku Process comprises an open and respectful exchange of views between individuals and groups with different ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic backgrounds and heritage living on different continents, on the basis of mutual understanding and respect.
The “Baku Process” was launched at the Conference of Ministers responsible for Culture which was held in Baku on December 2-3, 2008 on the theme of “Intercultural dialogue as a basis for peace and sustainable development in Europe and its neighbouring regions”. The Conference was organized in partnership with the Council of Europe and was was a very substantive initiative which placed emphasis on the importance of dialogue among cultures and civilizations as a reality of today’s world and one of its important aspects. This event was the first of its kind, brought together the ministers of culture of the Council of Europe and the ministers of culture of number of Muslim countries which makes this Conference another major step in the development of dialogue and mutual understanding in the globalized world.
As a continuation of the “Baku Process”, Government of Azerbaijan invited more than 10 states from Europe to participate at the Sixth Conference of Ministers of Culture of Islamic countries held in Baku on 13-15 October, 2009.
After the Islamic and European conferences Government of Azerbaijan decided to organize World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue on 7-9 April, 2011 in Baku under patronage of H.E. Mr. Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan. This initiative was declared by the President Mr. Ilham Aliyev at the 65th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (23 September 2010, New-York).
The Forum, supported by prestigious international organizations as UNESCO, UN Alliance of Civilizations, World Tourism Organization, Council of Europe, North-South Center of the Council of Europe, ISESCO was held in this format for the first time ever, was to advance the initiatives, realized by Azerbaijan in the sphere of intercultural dialogue, from regional context into the global level, and to establish a fully-functioning International Forum in the country. For the media, Euronews was an official media partner of the Forum.
500 representatives from 102 countries from all continents of the world – global public figures, heads of international organisations, heads of state or governments, ministers of culture and cultural ambassadors, parliamentarians and diplomats, mayors and other local-authority figures, representatives of non-governmental organisations and enterprises, media representatives and journalists, cultural experts and practitioners, prominent intellectuals and activists participated at the forum.
In 2013 and 2015 Government of Azerbaijan in cooperation with UNESCO, UN Alliance of Civilizations, UN World Tourism Organization, Council of Europe, ISESCO, North-South Center of the Council of Europe organized the 2nd and 3rd World Forums respectively.
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