Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, I would like to welcome all of you to Azerbaijan – welcome to our country!
I am happy to see many honorable experts here at the forum. As the list of participants expands annually, the global importance of the forum increases as well.
We take a great pride in our state, an incredibly beautiful country with strategic location and unique natural contrasts.
Our people created an ancient and rich culture derived from centuries of contact and exposure to various traditions, languages, nations and religions.
Located at the heart of Eurasia, Azerbaijan absorbs the values of different cultures and civilizations. We traditionally stand for the principles of tolerance, respect, humanism and mercy with regards to other groups of peoples and cultures.
Moreover, for us, tolerance is not a new concept; it’s the part of our culture, our way of life.
Multiculturalism has helped to change the face of our country, the nature and meaning of Azerbaijani society and the shape of Azerbaijan’s relations with the world.
For example, with the establishment of Heydar Aliyev Foundation in 2004, its main goal was not only to promote the national culture of Azerbaijan outside the country, but also to spread the seeds of tolerance and harmony all around the world. The organization of Azerbaijani cultural events in different parts of the world, promotion of Mugham – the world-famous intangible treasure of Karabakh, intercultural forums, and other successful projects, from the “Fly to Baku” Art exhibition in main European capitals to the reconstruction of schools in Pakistan, Georgia, Egypt, Russia– all these are only a part of our activity.
The Roman catacombs in Vatican and five stained-glass windows of the Strasbourg Cathedral Church have been restored within the “Address of tolerance-Azerbaijan” Project of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation.
The Foundation also paid a special attention to the environmental projects implemented in Azerbaijan. In 2010 under its initiative, the first flock of gazelles was reintroduced into the territory of its historical habitats. Later in 2011 as a part of Foundation’s project, a global campaign titled IDEA (International Dialogue for Environmental Action) was launched to draw the attention of society to the necessity of protecting our fragile environment.
Organizing seminars in the regions, distribution literature, and supporting local environmentalists – all these actions were taken in order to raise awareness on environmental issues among ordinary people.
Our three million trees planting initiative, corresponding to three million young people residing in Azerbaijan was an excellent way to bring Azerbaijani people together and focus on environmental issues. As the result with the support of IDEA Campaign and the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Azerbaijan, more than 14 million trees have been planted recently in the country.
In order to promote dialogue, education, leadership and cooperation among youth not only in Azerbaijan, but around the globe, we have established partnerships with different environment organizations from all around a world.
Now IDEA is a key partner of UNEP for promoting environmental projects in Azerbaijan.
IDEA initiated the project of reintroduction of gazelles in Georgia. In addition, over the past 10 years, our country has undertaken considerable efforts to assess the status of the Caucasian leopard and develop approaches for its conservation.
This beautiful animal, being one of the rarest species of Europe, has not been seen anywhere for a long time. Today, after receiving a proof that these rare and endangered species survived only in Azerbaijan, our task now is to preserve and ensure the living conditions for wild animals in their natural habitat.
Another successful step forward in increasing awareness on the environmental issues was an international contest “Children’s Eyes on Earth”. The first photo contest titled “I Love Nature and I Fear Pollution” involved 1200 children from more than 90 countries around the world.
The second contest “No Water, No Life” will be launched in 2014. This contest will become an additional platform for the children to express their vision and concern regarding the global environmental problem.
Our nature’s future relies on a well-educated public to be wise stewards of the very environment that sustains us, our families and communities, as well as the future generations.
That is why we need from the earliest ages to reinforce the values of cooperation and shared responsibility and to encourage children to become not just problem-solvers but also problem-seekers and solutions-creators.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I hope that the example of Azerbaijan will be a good scenario for the world community to come together for the sake of our common planet.
It is my belief, that we are called to be architects of our future, not its losses.
As we reach out to our neighbors, we remind them that we not just share borders – we share the region.
It would take years, decades and may be even generations, but if we have a clear vision of what we want, we can build it on the foundations laid by our fathers and pass our fulfilled dreams to our children.
I have no doubt in this. I believe, due to the quality, authority and number of experts represented here, Baku Humanitarian Forum became a solid platform for an open international dialogue.
Again, I would like to welcome everyone in Azerbaijan – I hope, that your stay here will help to better understand the true meaning of hospitality in the eastern capital of Europe.