Situated at the cross-roads of cultures and civilizations, Azerbaijan represents a juncture between East and West and between North and South. Through its location, history, traditions and its strong presence in the international arena, Azerbaijan has gained the reputation of being a bridge between civilizations and a unique place for intercultural dialogue.
Azerbaijan’s historical development as an example of a Muslim-majority democratic and secular republic, its geographical position, and its multi-ethnic population created favourable conditions for the spread of different religions and beliefs around the country in different periods of time. Throughout centuries Azerbaijan has sheltered various communities and nationalities of diverse backgrounds and religions, living in conditions of mutual cooperation and friendship. Azerbaijan’s experience, despite challenges, is an example of a country moving forward to substantive progress through inclusion.
Today, Azerbaijan is a dynamically developing country that is building a modern secular state, based on strong cultural traditions. It is an energy-rich country whose standard of living and economy continues to grow, exemplified by the construction boom in Baku, the capital. An interesting blend of modernity and ancient history, Baku is not only a city with a large industrial complex, but it’s also a city with a rich cultural and scientific life and a multicultural city with broadcasts and newspapers published in various languages. Hosting the first ever European Games in 2015, Azerbaijan will conduct the Islamic Solidarity Games in 2017.
Azerbaijan has a tradition of welcoming guests from all over the world to engage them in dialogue for better understanding and peaceful cooperation. Since 2011 Azerbaijan has hosted the World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue, in partnership with UNAOC, UNESCO, UN World Tourism Organization, Council of Europe and ISESCO. Through this initiative known as the “Baku process”, Azerbaijan acknowledges the power of intercultural dialogue and demonstrates that such meetings bring all people closer and create the conditions for positive intercultural and inclusive relations.
At the same time, being a member of both Islamic and European organizations, Azerbaijan absorbs the values of both civilizations, thus enabling it to assume a role of genuine bridge. This is yet another reason for Azerbaijan being called a bridge between civilizations.