Statement by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan

7th Global Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) hosted by the Republic of Azerbaijan was held under the theme "Living Together in Inclusive Societies, A Challenge and A Goal" in Baku on April 25-27, 2016.

In line with the objectives of the UN Alliance of Civilizations and the noble goals to promote cultural and interreligious dialogue, respect and mutual understanding among civilizations, the aim of the 7th Global Forum was to discuss and find solutions for the models on living together in inclusive societies based on the UN's fundamental principles of peace and security, human rights and development.

More than 4,000 delegates from 147 countries took part in the 7th Baku Global Forum. Heads of States and Governments, Foreign Ministers and other senior government officials from the Group of Friends of the UN Alliance of Civilizations, delegations of international organizations, religious leaders and experts in various fields, non-governmental and civil society, as well as business circles and mass media were represented in the Forum. The event was widely covered by 117 foreign and local media representatives.

Taking into account the special role of youth in the establishment and development of inclusive societies, UN Alliance of Civilizations Youth Event was held on April 25 on the sidelines with the participation of more than 150 youngsters, who were chosen amongst 6000 youth from various countries around the world by competition held by UN Alliance of Civilizations.

The President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, the UN High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, President of the Republic of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo delivered an opening speech. On his video address the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon wished success to the Forum and expressed his gratitude to Azerbaijan, as the host country.

Speaking at the official opening ceremony, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev said: "It is not accidental that Baku hosts the 7th Global Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations. Because as the land of tolerance and commitment to multicultural values, independent Azerbaijan has extensive experience for development of the dialogue of cultures, realization of important projects aimed at preservation of cultural diversity and to regulate the mutual relations between civilizations and in hosting prestigious forums".

Actual problems and issues that prevent co-existence and undermine the foundations of inclusive communities and societies were part of the agenda of the Forum. The Forum continued its work with Plenaries on Platforms and Partnerships for the Prevention of Violent Extremism, Good Practices in Social Inclusion and breakout sessions on peace and terrorism, migration, participation of youth in inclusive societies, global intercultural dialogue and Baku process, educating media for prevention of violent extremism, women and peace-building in conflict zones, religious leaders and violent extremism, civil society and business, cyber extremism and others.

Speaking at the Plenary Session on Good Practices in Social Inclusion the First Lady of the Republic of Azerbaijan Mrs.Mehriban Aliyeva stressed that tolerance and multiculturalism is a lifestyle in Azerbaijan. She also informed the participants about the severe humanitarian consequences of Armenia's aggression against Azerbaijan and gave detailed information about the projects implemented by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation in the country and abroad on the basis of public-private and civil society partnership.

Baku Declaration was adopted at the high-level ministerial meeting of the 7th Global Forum of the UN Alliance of Civilizations. In the Declaration Azerbaijan's role as the host country of the 7th Global Forum of the Alliance under the name "Living Together in Inclusive Societies: A Challenge and A Goal", as a way to harness the multiple perspectives of various sectors to meet the challenge of, and progress towards, inclusive living in today’s increasingly diverse societies, and taking note of national initiatives in this regards, including the declaration of 2016 as the Year of Multiculturalism in Azerbaijan was praised. The Declaration also highlighted the tangible contribution of the Forum’s theme to all Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations, including to the four pillars of the activity of UN Alliance of Civilizations, mainly, youth, education, media and migration and extended gratitude to the Government and people of Azerbaijan, in particular to the city of Baku, for hosting the Seventh Global Forum, 25-27 April 2016.

As it was also stressed in the Declaration the 7th Baku Global Forum has achieved its main objective of highlighting UNAOC’s role as a global platform for sharing best practices for living together in inclusive societies, as well as solutions, in this context, to challenges, such as the spread of violent extremism which could be conducive to terrorism, in order to promote peace, universal human rights and sustainable development.

By hosting the 7th Global Forum of the UN Alliance of Civilizations the Republic of Azerbaijan once again reaffirmed that one of the main directions of its foreign policy is to promote intercultural and inter-religious dialogue, mutual understanding and respect between cultures and civilizations on international level, to share its centuries-old experience in this field as well as to support the efforts of the international community on this account.

In accordance with the Decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan dated 11 January 2016, declaring the year 2016 as "the Year of Multiculturalism" in Azerbaijan with the aim of further developing and promoting multiculturalism, successful holding the Baku 7th Global Forum was a milestone event in terms of contributing to the strengthening of dialogue and understanding among cultures and civilizations and within civilizations in national, regional and global levels.

The Republic of Azerbaijan is determined to continue its policy of promoting intercultural and interreligious dialogue in cooperation with international organizations, other countries and partners. As part of the Baku Process, the 4th World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue to be hold in Baku in 2017 will be a platform to discuss the outcomes of the 7th Global Forum of the UN Alliance of Civilizations.

We take this opportunity to express our gratitude to all partners, United Nations, especially the UN Alliance of Civilizations and the participants of the forum who contributed to and supported the 7th Global Baku Forum.

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