The G20 Interfaith Forum 2021 was held in Bologna, which closed with the intervention of the Prime Minister Mario Draghi. With more than 370 participants, the event took place in Bologna from 12 to 14 September, brought together delegates from 70 countries including a delegation from Azerbaijan, with the aim of building a space for dialogue on the topic at the center of the Forum. : “Time to Heal”, peace between cultures, understanding between religions, the time of healing. ” An evocative reminder of the Covid-19 pandemic and the complex socio-health consequences of the war, which the Afghan tragedy has put under everyone’s eyes.
The Azerbaijani delegation was led by Anar Karimov, Minister of Culture of the Republic of Azerbaijan attended the G20 Interfaith Forum 2021 .
In his speech, Minister Karimov highlighted the multicultural character of Azerbaijan, a secular country in which all religions are represented and protected. He then recalled the state of destruction of cultural and religious assets in the territories occupied by the armed forces of Armenia in the aftermath of the liberation and the massive reconstruction work that the Azerbaijani government has started. There was also a reference to the success of the Baku process, aimed precisely at dialogue, and to the new “Peace for Culture” initiative, supported both by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and by ISESCO.
Culture Minister Anar Karimov has said that Azerbaijan continues to pursue a peaceful policy despite Armenia’s 30-year aggression and ethnic cleansing. Despite the fact that our country has been subjected to military aggression, occupation of territories and ethnic cleansing for almost 30 years, Azerbaijan continues to pursue a peaceful policy and put forward initiatives and calls for peace in this direction, the minister said. He added that the Azerbaijani territories occupied by Armenia for nearly 30 years were liberated in 2020. Karimov stressed that after the war Azerbaijan started to restore all religious and cultural monuments destroyed during the Armenian occupation without any discrimination on religious grounds.
The minister underlined that peace is a prerequisite for the development of culture. War and vandalism target culture, and to prevent it once and for all around the world, the Republic of Azerbaijan launched the campaign Peace4Culture, he said. The Peace4Culture campaign aimed at informing the world community about the situation in the Azerbaijani lands liberated from the Armenian occupation, including destroyed infrastructure and cultural genocide. He noted that Azerbaijan is committed to centuries-old traditions of multiculturalism, as well as the values promoted by UNESCO conventions, and implements a number of projects aimed at preserving cultural heritage not only in Azerbaijan but in various parts of the world. Karimov underlined efforts by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation to restore hundreds of monuments not only in Azerbaijan but in foreign countries as well.
The foundation restored the Louvre Museum in Paris, the Church of St. Marcellino and Petro in the Vatican, the Palace and Tower of Prapezitsa in Bulgaria, the Church of Notre Dame in Strasbourg and other monuments, he said. Karimov praised the projects implemented by the forum, adding that Azerbaijan attaches importance to cooperation and joint activities that are aimed at strengthening friendly relations. “Religion plays an important and positive role in the development of general intercultural dialogue skills. Religious leaders have the potential to play a key role in conflict prevention and dialogue. They have a deep influence, especially among young people, to strengthen and promote this dialogue,” he said. The minister added that for centuries, representatives of different nations and religions have lived in Azerbaijan in a friendly, peaceful and harmonious environment. That is why Azerbaijan is known as a multi-ethnic, multi-confessional and civilized country. He noted that President Ilham Aliyev initiated the Baku Process on intercultural dialogue in 2008. Baku has been also hosting the World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue since 2011. It is no coincidence that the reports of the UN Secretary-General to the General Assembly in 2017, 2018 and 2019 stressed the importance of the Baku Process and the World Forum for Intercultural Dialogue. The event was attended by High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) Miguel Ángel Moratinos, ICESCO Director-General Salim bin Mohammed al-Malik, Italian Education Minister Patrizio Bianchi, Albanian Education, Sports and Youth Evis Kushi and others.