The World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue continued its agenda in the Gulustan Palace, Baku, April 8.
Mehriban Aliyeva, the First Lady of Azerbaijan, President of Heydar Aliyev Foundation, Goodwill Ambassador of UNESCO and ISESCO, MP, attended the third session “Women as Key Agents of Intercultural Dialogue” in frame of the Forum.
Chaired by Mrs Mehriban Aliyeva and Director of the UNESCO Division of Cultural Policies and Intercultural Dialogue Katerina Stenou, the session discussed the definition of theoretical and practical framework to enhance women’s role in public life as basic parties to the intercultural dialogue.
First Lady of Azerbaijan Mehriban Aliyeva addressed the session.
ADDRESS BY PRESIDENT OF HEYDAR ALIYEV FOUNDATION MRS MEHRIBAN ALIYEVA
Ladies and gentlemen,
I first of all greet all participants of the World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue. I say ‘Welcome to Azerbaijan!’ to all guests having arrived in our country to attend the Forum. I hope the Forum will really contribute to the development of the real dialogue and concrete measures will be taken in the basis of the Forum’s outcomes.
Over the recent years, Baku became a center of dialogue. Taking a tour to the near past, we can list a number of international events. Baku hosted the World Summit of Religious Leaders in 2010. Baku was declared the Capital of Islamic Culture in 2009. It became a venue for the Meeting of the Culture Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) in 2009 and the Meeting of the Culture Ministers of the Council of Europe in 2008. The country also hosted the International Women's Conference in 2008 with representatives from all continents. The Conference adopted the Baku Declaration on the women’s role in intercultural dialogue.
To conduct such activities there is solid foundation, as well as a favorable environment in Azerbaijan. From ancient times to the present day Azerbaijan is known as a country open to the world. One can be witness of a high tolerance dominating in our country from the first minutes of communication with our citizens. Muslim mosque, a Catholic church, Orthodox church and Jewish synagogue that are located alongside in Baku is evidence to this.
I express my deep thanks to everyone involved in the organization of this forum. I thank all the international organizations for their support to the Forum and I hope the Forum will be the next step serving the sound relations of peoples, nations and states.
Dear friends, dialogue of cultures and civilizations is one of the topical issues in the world now. Round tables, forums, conferences dedicated to this problem are held in different countries. Every such meeting should be welcomed and supported. At least, because every such meeting is a kind of dialogue.
Unfortunately, the influence of this topic on the current situation is pretty weak, even if that is often discussed. There is no need for any research to verify this view. It is enough to watch any TV channel or visit Internet and news from every news agency will verify this opinion.
Hostility, intolerance, ethnic cleansings, genocides, wars are the realities of the world. A number of confrontations and conflicts does not drop, unfortunately, rises. In this event, the number of citizens, ordinary persons, politicians, religious and public figures, scientists joining the theme of dialogue increases yearly. In its turn it puts different versions, proposals, scenarios on the agenda. For instance, a group of scientists is sure that contradictions existing among the civilizations will absolutely bring to confrontation and conflict. The dialogue opportunities are ending and such a multiculturological society has no future.
Another vision says to prevent confrontations all the countries in the world should follow the West model. Of course, Western democracy and liberty ideals, development and high living standard are highly valued and today this is a progressive model in the globe. But we all well understand that not all the humanity can exist this way. First of all the resources existing in the world today could not allow this and we should not forget about geopolitical, historical, cultural factors too.
According to the third view, all successes of West, including in the field of science, technology, development is the result of the long-term colonialist policy. Surely, it is impossible to agree with such approach, such visions take us to the past only, not into the future.
To me, all these approaches do not serve the construction of the dialogue, vice versa, bring to new conflicts, confrontations. Everyone knows that every such concept bases on certain policy, political forces and ambitions. I think, this course creates a number of serious challenges and dangers in the modern world.
We live in such a time that there are ones wanting to play with the most sacred humane feelings. Each of us belong to different religion and all of religions are close to each other, we – human beings believe in different religions, but pray to one God. Essence of our prayers is the same. Unfortunately today we face with the fact, which doesn’t go in the humanity. A man, who names himself as a religious figure, burnt Holy Quran. How can this action be named? What is his goal? What forces ordered it? Much to my regret, the international community didn’t react to the burning of Holy Quran and didn’t make comment. As a result, the unpunished cruelty brought to more horrible cruelty and we witnessed that too.
I think, one of the biggest problems today is politicization of religion. Various extremist forces and slogans should not be put on the agenda under the slogan of religion. It is quite clear that such actions damage the dialogue, normal relations and bring to new confrontations only.
Dear guests, questions on today’s topic are more than answers. But one thing is quite clear that the intercultural dialogue is already beyond the culturological problem and has become the problem of big politics. The globalizing world is a reality today. Some welcome this, some consider big disaster. But we all feel these changes in our life, in particular in the notions of place and time, soon and late, near and far.
In my opinion, each of us should understand very well that beside being the citizen of our country, we are the member of a family called universe. The process of globalization has changed each of us into residents of a large and common place. The dialogue of men, states, nations in this place should be built just in the basis of ethical normal, justice principles.
Unfortunately, laws dominating today in politics and economics in the globe are too far from justice and ethical norms. If we advance today the global ethics hypothesis, it may sound like utopia. But let’s remember that a number of achievements of the mankind are sourced from actions and ideas assessed like utopia in the beginning. Women’s movement, gender affair, equality movement were in due time considered by majority like utopia without future. But achievements gained today in this sphere prove that such an approach is wrong.
Dear friends, if we are talking of the global ethics, it can again be a scientific hypothesis and questions are still more than answers here. But I am sure that if we think about tomorrow, understand our responsibility before the future generations, we should try to build the relations of nations and peoples in the platform of ethics and justice. This is a long and hard process. But every long way begins from the first step. I think, each of us should take this step with our deeds. It needs solidarity and good will only. I believe, only in this case, in the basis of humanism and justice the constructive dialogue can be set up.
Thank you so much for the attention.