The Speech of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan
For centuries the representatives of different religions, nationalities have coexisted peacefully, under safe and friendly conditions, and this policy has been continuing today as well. In Azerbaijan the state policy in this area is very efficient and yields wonderful results. Our historical past, our culture indicate that the representatives of different religions have lived very comfortably in Azerbaijan, they have coexisted like one family. Our historical, religious monuments testify to our ancient history, also show that Azerbaijan has been a native land, a native place for the representatives of different religions. We are proud that one of the most ancient mosques, built in 743 and located in the city of Shamakhi is our national asset. Also, one of the oldest churches of the Caucasus in the vicinity of another ancient city of Azerbaijan – the city of Shaki is the Caucasian Alban Church. Both the temples have been repaired and restored, are protected by the state. There is a temple of fire-worshipping in Baku – Atashgah, which is the indicator of the existence of the traditions of Zoroastrianism in Azerbaijan.
The restoration and construction of the temples of traditional religions – Catholic, Orthodox churches, synagogues is a reality in Azerbaijan. This reality generates a very wonderful social ambiance in our country. In Azerbaijan multiculturalism is a state policy. We are closely attached, loyal to our national, religious traditions, and the national values are of special importance in our future development. I can say that the modern Azerbaijani state has been built on very profound national values, national-spiritual values. Also, we are open to the world. As I have pointed out, Azerbaijan has turned into one of the addresses of multiculturalism in the world, and this honorable status has been recognized by the world community. It is not a coincidence that by my Instruction we declared the year of 2016 as “the Year of Multiculturalism” in Azerbaijan. I reckon that it is the first time in the world that such kind of initiative has been made. This indicates our intention: by calling 2016 “the Year of Multiculturalism”, first of all, we wanted to introduce Azerbaijan in the world as it is. We wanted to show that multiculturalism is both a state policy, lifestyle in Azerbaijan; we also tried to focus the attention of the world community to this issue. Since, as you are also well aware, today the politicians, public figures, and media sound very contradictory opinions about multiculturalism. That is why, I assume that there should be a single approach to this issue, and there must be no contradicting idea here. I consider that Azerbaijan’s experience in this field is also noteworthy, can be a wonderful example. We are enjoying the fruit of multiculturalism in everyday life. Today the stability, citizens’ solidarity, national solidarity in Azerbaijan are based on these values as well. We tried to focus the attention to this significant issue in 2016. Especially, when we consider that today, I would like to reiterate, there are different ideas associated with multiculturalism. I suppose this issue will be discussed at the Forum more extensively.
And we declared the year of 2017 as “the Year of Islamic Solidarity”. Again, because Islamic solidarity has completely been established in Azerbaijan. I should also state that the Azerbaijani Muslims perform the prayers of unity. I think that in this field Azerbaijan plays a very important role in the Muslim world. Also, we tried to focus the attention of the Muslim world to this field. Since, unfortunately, we haven’t achieved what we want in relation to solidarity in the Muslim world. Confrontations, wars, misunderstanding, clashes and other dangerous tendencies turn into a big problem, tragedy for the countries; millions of people die, remain homeless, and turn into refugees and IDPs. Certainly, we must try to make our suggestions in this field as well, demonstrate our own example, since if the notions of Islamic solidarity and multiculturalism constitute unity and the state policy is correctly pursued, and this is recognized by the people, then there will be no problem in the countries. Modern Azerbaijan is the visual and bright example of this. It is not a coincidence that we are hosting a number of events associated with humanitarian cooperation, multiculturalism.