By Marcus Braybrooke
Initiated by the government of Azerbaijan, a World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue was held April 7-9, 2011, in Baku, Azerbaijan. The Forum was supported by the Council of Europe, the North-South Centre, UNESCO, the UN Alliance of Civilizations, and ISESCO.
Some 435 attendees from 20 countries, including ministers of culture and cultural ambassadors, representatives of international governmental and non-governmental organizations, parliamentarians, mayors, journalists, cultural experts and practitioners participated at the Forum.
High-ranking attendees included Mevlut Cavusoglu, president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Abdulaziz bin Osman al-Tuveycri, director-general of the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), and Walter Schwimmer, former secretary-general of the Council of Europe.
Addressing the Forum, President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan said: “In all periods, all peoples have lived as one family in Azerbaijan and have been linked by bonds of friendship. We are very pleased that these positive tendencies have become even stronger at the time of Azerbaijan's development as an independent state.”
“Representatives of all peoples in Azerbaijan are citizens with equal rights, and all historical and religious monuments are being protected. Freedom of religion and conscience has been totally established in Azerbaijan. Throughout the period of independence, the state has built and refurbished hundreds of religious monuments – mosques, churches and synagogues – and this process is continuing,” President Aliyev noted.
The speakers of the Forum emphasized that culture, art and music have no borders, and appealed to people for unity, equality and solidarity. They expressed confidence such events would give impulse to establishing peace among the nations, solution of the global problems as well as to further development of relations among the states.