4th World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue discusses inclusive dialogue

The 4th World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue has featured “Inclusive Dialogue in an Age of Polarization: how to make it work?” session.

It was moderated by Political Analyst & Public Officer at the UNAOC Nathalie Guillaume.

Assistant to the President of Azerbaijan for Public and Political Issues Ali Hasanov addressed the session.

“The current stage in the development of international relations is accompanied by complex and controversial processes that change the global geo-political picture. The emergence of a multipolar system increases the importance of inclusive dialogue, which makes a profound impact on the deepening of intercultural and intercivilizational relations. Observations show that problems of regional and international security are not confined to military and political dimensions, but also cover socio-economic issues and intercultural relations. With humanity, tolerance, rule of law and universal values at the core, inclusive dialogue is considered as one of the tools for coping with the problems and conflicts concerning the world community,” he said.

“We know from experience of the past 25 years that apart from positive aspects, globalization, which emerged as an integral part of the new world order after the Cold War, has also brought some shortcomings with respect to ensuring peace and stability. If on the one hand, globalization stimulates international integration processes, on the other, it seems to encourage the clash of cultures and civilizations. The most effective way of preventing negative trends in this situation is undoubtedly to ensure the development of inclusive society in addition to strengthening relations among governments in political, socio-economic, scientific and technological areas.”

Ali Hasanov said: “Nationalism, separatism and ethno-cultural terrorism cases in different countries force all people – regardless of where they live – to think more deeply about the prospects for religions and national cultures to co-exist. Although inclusive dialogue is crucial to people`s co-existence in peace and tranquility, unfortunately, there are some approaches that are unable to objectively measure its essence. Supporters of these approaches believe that inclusive society or intercultural dialogue can encourage the events and processes destructive to a state`s single cultural space, national identity, and that ethnic groups and migrants can harm national harmony and integrity by causing culturological problems. But it is an undeniable fact that it is intercivilizational dialogue that has lain at the heart of human development and enriched and driven global cultural progress. Therefore, despite criticism, intercivilizational and intercultural dialogue remains one of the key drivers of society`s stable and sustainable development, religious, ethnic and cultural diversity.”

“Having a geostrategically important position at the crossroads between Europe and Asia, Azerbaijan recognizes the role of inclusive dialogue in ensuring international law-based civil co-existence, and is pursuing an active policy in this regard. Azerbaijan is strengthening mutually equal cooperation with other countries, and is taking full advantage of intercultural dialogue to preserve religious, ethnic and cultural identity of every nationality.”

“Azerbaijan is recognized worldwide as a multinational state with rich multicultural values and traditions of tolerance. Multiculturalism has played a crucial role in the country`s ancient statehood history, and this fact significantly contributes to the enrichment of national and ethnic values. Minorities` preserving their traditions, religious values is among the key factors that strengthen polyethnic unity. Policy pursued in Azerbaijan has guaranteed legal equality of all citizens, regardless of their religious or ethnic background,” he said.

“Unfortunately, masses of people around the globe are becoming migrants and refugees because of growing religious, racial and national intolerance and destructive separatism. It should be noted that Azerbaijan very well understands the difficulty and pain of this problem as the country has more than a million refugees and internally displaced persons as a result of ethnic cleansing and occupation policy of Armenia. Therefore, ensuring such people`s return to their native lands should be one of the components of inclusive dialogue.”

“The government of Azerbaijan is providing financial aid for Muslim and non-Muslim religious communities in the country to assist them in promoting national and moral values and religious awareness. Given the development of inclusive society and the need for the scientific and theoretical study of multicultural values, Baku International Multiculturalism Center was established in 2014 by the order of President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev. In 2015, the Azerbaijani President approved the Law on Struggle Against Religious Extremism in order to set a legal and organizational framework for the fight against religious extremism and specify the rights and obligations of government bodies and citizens in this regard. Under orders of the head of state, 2016 was declared a “Year of Multiculturalism” and 2017 was declared a “Year of Islamic Solidarity” in the country. All these measures are of crucial importance in terms of the development of inclusive dialogue and the study of multicultural models existing in the world,” Ali Hasanov said.

“The Heydar Aliyev Foundation`s role in promoting inclusive dialogue should be emphasized here. The foundation has implemented numerous projects to restore historical monuments and establish new culture centers over the past years. These projects saw repair and restoration of ancient religious and cultural monuments in a number of countries, including France, Vatican, Italy and Bulgaria. The foundation has also repaired and restored pilgrimage sites of people of different religious backgrounds and built education and culture centers for representatives of ethnic groups in Azerbaijan. The Heydar Aliyev Foundation is also providing schools for ethnic minority children in Azerbaijani districts with textbooks and teaching aids on a regular basis.”

“Azerbaijan has always supported religious and ethnic diversity and the development of inclusive society, which is evidenced by Baku’s hosting international intercultural and humanitarian forums. The strategies defined at these prestigious events feature the principles, which embody the strengthening of intercultural dialogue and management of national-ethnic relations.”

“In conclusion, I would like to say that it is impossible to imagine the formation of moral qualities, which lay a solid foundation for political, social, economic and cultural development of any society, and interaction of different cultures and the ensuring of stability and sustainable development without inclusive dialogue. The strengthening of this dialogue is also important for humanity to be able to ensure its security against global problems and challenges,” Ali Hasanov said.