Statement by Elmar Mammadyarov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan at the UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) Group of Friends Ministerial Meeting on the theme of “Countering Xenophobia through Fostering Inclusive Dialogue”
New York, September 23, 2016
High Representative Nasser Abdul Aziz al-Nasser,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me at the outset to welcome the participants of the annual meeting of the Group of Friends of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and thank the organisers for holding this very important event. The Republic of Azerbaijan highly appreciates and stands ready to make any necessary contribution to the activities of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations.
In the contemporary world of growing intolerance, discrimination and violence based on religion or belief, intercultural and interreligious dialogue has become one of the most important tools in promoting tolerance, sustainable peace, stability and development. In this regard, the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations plays an important role in fostering a global dialogue and cooperation for the promotion of tolerance, peace and better understanding across countries, cultures and civilizations.
Azerbaijan attaches primary importance to the promotion of intercultural and interreligious dialogue at all levels. Multiculturalism and tolerance is a longstanding tradition in my country that strengthens and consolidates our society. For ages, people of different nationalities and religions have been living in peace and dignity in Azerbaijan. The year of 2016 has been declared a “Year of Multiculturalism in Azerbaijan” by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Consequently, a special Plan of Actions has been developed that implies measures to safeguard and disseminate the humanistic ideals of multiculturalism both at national and international levels.
On 25-27 April 2016, Azerbaijan hosted the 7th Global Forum of the UN Alliance of Civilizations entitled “Living together in inclusive societies”. This important event was attended by more than 4,000 delegates from 147 countries, including Heads of states and governments, ministers, government officials, representatives of international organisations and media. The Forum’s themes reflected the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which incorporates the promotion of inclusive societies as pivotal component for sustainable development. Taking this opportunity, I would like to sincerely thank all those who organised and participated in that Forum.
A major outcome of the Forum was the Baku Declaration. It strongly condemned any advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence and urged all Member States to unite against violent extremism in all its forms and manifestations.
The Baku Declaration should serve as guidelines for states and international organisations in promotion of intercultural dialogue and multiculturalism as a way to counter violence, extremism and xenophobia. Recognising the special role of youth in the establishment and development of inclusive societies, the UN Alliance of Civilizations Youth Event was also held on the sidelines of the Forum with the participation of more than 150 youngsters. In this regard, I would like to welcome the oncoming International Conference on “The Role of Youth in Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism”, which the UNAOC and the Cooperation Council of Turkic States will hold jointly on 20-21 October 2016 in Istanbul Turkey.
In April next year, Azerbaijan will be hosting the 4th World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue, which is held biannually since 2011 within the so called Baku Process. We invite all our partners and interested parties to take active part in that event. I am also happy to note that based on experience of excellent co-operation, the Government of Azerbaijan together with the UN Alliance of Civilizations has recently agreed to launch a new project called “Baku ─ Alliance of Civilizations Award for Intercultural Dialogue”.
I also fully share the view expressed by previous speakers that promoting intercultural cultural dialogue, tolerance and countering violent extremism have gained increased importance in the context of large movement of refugees and migrants. Azerbaijan has deep understanding of this problem given the fact that we have one million refugees and IDPs ethnically cleansed out of their homes. Enabling safe and dignified return of refugees and IDPs must be at the center of international efforts.
In conclusion, let me express my confidence that our today’s meeting, as the previous ones, will successfully contribute to the joint efforts to counter mistrust, misconception and hatred, and to foster dialogue, mutual respect and understanding.
I thank you.