Prospects of Humanitarian Cooperation: Strategic Significance of the President's Speech

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Baku, 14 October 2014 –

The capital city hosted IV Baku International Humanitarian Forum on 2-3 October 2014. Hundreds of delegates from sixty countries of the world attended this event. Opening speech of the President Ilham Aliyev was received with great deal of interest. Ideas suggested by the President were warmly welcomed by the audience.

Ilham Aliyev emphasized the need for the countries to join efforts in preventing humanitarian disaster that looms over the world. In his remarks he profoundly analyzed different aspects of humanitarian cooperation. The head of state spoke of the activity implemented in Azerbaijan in the humanitarian field and outlined the necessity of more concerted policy to be conducted by the countries of the world in this direction. Prospects of multiculturalism were laid out in this speech of the conceptual nature.

War and Humanitarian Grievances: Search for Solutions

The world is on the verge of a humanitarian crisis. Experts frequently visit this subject. However, nobody wishes to take real action in terms of its prevention. One may once again acknowledge the historic importance of the IV Baku International Humanitarian Forum, if the event is regarded in light of these views. This process is a telling example of how human intelligence can serve as valuable contribution to the bright future of mankind. The speech of the President Ilham Aliyev delivered in the splendid Heydar Aliyev Center was a significant manifesto for the proponents of peace, harmony and cooperation.

The head of state particularly highlighted that the humanitarian issue has become a pressing factor for the world. In addressing the world the President was frank and sharp in expressing his views, ''The developments unfolding in the world and some issues of concern requires that even more attention is paid to the humanitarian sphere'' (see: Ilham Aliyev attended an official opening ceremony of the 4th Baku International Humanitarian Forum /, 02 October 2014).

Indeed, ordinary people are suffering greatly in different parts of the world. Millions are fleeing the zones of conflict, with children, elderly and women being targeted. Yet the conscience of mankind is silent. Opposing military factions commit atrocities beyond imagination that puts to shame us as humans. What is the solution then?

In this context an idea expressed by the President Ilham Aliyev in Baku points to the solution – people should pay attention not to acquisition of arms and waging wars but to the resolution of the humanitarian problems. President made it clear that announcement of such an idea was not a coincidence. The point is that our country has been a cradle of different cultures for centuries and was known for being multi-confessional. Most importantly, people have lived here as a family. To be more precise – a model of coexistence of different peoples, religions and cultures has been historically formed in Azerbaijan. This, on one hand is our greatest asset (Ilham Aliyev) and on the other hand, can serve as a model to be emulated in modern era.

It has to be recognized that this side of the issue is extremely important. President has clarified this in his speech at the Forum. According to Ilham Aliyev, ''The power of any country, of course, is determined by several factors – political opportunities, economic strength and, at the same time, the atmosphere in the society, the sound environment and the sense of solidarity'' (see: previous reference). For Azerbaijan as a state, the sense of solidarity is of strategic importance, along with economic and political power.

In the advanced Western societies the issue of solidarity has been least important. And now they bear the brunt, in the form of racism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

In the meantime, Azerbaijan is offering a viable development model in light of these flaws. That way, Baku is stating to the world that human factor is of primary relevance. And that is why the official Baku decided to hold the Baku International Humanitarian Forum annually. This already is a manifestation of a political will. The country must possess solid traditions to make humanism an important area of engagement, despite the fact that twenty percent of its lands remain occupied by a neighboring country and the big powers of the world turn a blind eye on this subject. President of Azerbaijan has showcased this to the world. He has proven that these were not mere declarations and that this society indeed fosters solidarity, friendship and cooperation.

Multiculturalism – Historical Necessity

All of this automatically enables a following conclusion; ''Multiculturalism is a way of life in Azerbaijan'' (see: previous reference). This issue is not confined to the substance. In general, using modern terminology, peoples living in Azerbaijan historically enjoyed the environment of multiculturalism. This has been in their gens. Peoples with entrenched traditions of esteem towards the bearers of different culture and religion know the ways of peaceful coexistence very well. In this sense, Azerbaijan is a role model nation.

It was also not a coincidence that in his speech the head of state reminded the audience of the fact that Culture Ministers of the Council of Europe member states were invited to the meeting with their colleagues from the Islamic Cooperation Organization countries held in Baku. It must be stressed that the initiative was called the ''Baku Process'', meaning that this has become a movement with the global relevance. ''Baku Process'' is a unique opportunity of modernity that brings together Muslims and representatives of other religions together on the level of governments. And the fact that Azerbaijan is its initiator speaks volumes about the issue.

It is actually about forging of an East-West dialogue. Delegates from different countries interact, exchange views and return to their home countries upon adopting important decisions. In their memories, Baku leaves an imprint of the city of peace and cooperation, where humanitarian exchange is fostered. President Ilham Aliyev also touched upon another valuable aspect, ''I am sure that the prominent statesmen, public figures, scientists, specialists and experts will share with us their interesting thoughts, over these days, so we can jointly contribute to the humanitarian sphere'' (see: previous reference).

This is the call for dialogue, mutual exchange of views and cooperation for the sake of humanism. Meanwhile, it appears to be appropriate that the head of state goes on to highlight another important issue – the fact that despite advancing high humanist and universal values, Azerbaijan itself has encountered a humanitarian disaster. Armenia’s aggression entailed expulsion of some one million people from their native lands. And it is all the more unacceptable that no tangible action is taken to change the situation regardless that the international organizations adopted documents recognizing territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.

How can this situation be justified? Presence of double standards must be clearly acknowledged. Foreign guests listening to the speech of the President would find it difficult to explain this contradiction. Nevertheless, Government of Azerbaijan attaches great significance to the humanitarian field. Programs contributing to the human dimension are implemented in the field of education, healthcare, culture and etc.

In this context, it has to be particularly emphasized that human capital rests in the center of the energy policy. As President said, ''Azerbaijan has accumulated a unique experience in using oil revenues correct and converting the ''black gold'' into human capital – we have already achieved this'' (see: previous reference). It would be a positive development for other nations to benefit from this experience.

In his speech the head of state also conveyed fascinating ideas about the prospects of multiculturalism. Those who claim that multiculturalism had failed are the ones who oppose bolstering of intercultural relations. Thus, the thesis that ''there is no alternative to the multiculturalism in the modern world'' is of strategic significance. The question Ilham Aliyev asked as he elaborated on the subject was, ''If multiculturalism has crashed then what can become an alternative to it? And the answer is also very clear. It is discrimination, racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. We must speak out against these perilous trends'' (see: previous reference).

Thus, the reasons behind the strife leading to bloodshed of innocent people become obvious. If the politicians were to be driven not by discrimination but the posture of multiculturalism, the conflicts would be solved and justice served. That is why the President of Azerbaijan appeals to the world for justice and humanism.

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