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5th World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue gets underway in Baku
Baku, May 2, AZERTAC President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and first lady Mehriban Aliyeva have attended the opening ceremony of the 5th World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue under the motto "Building dialogue into action against discrimination, inequality and violent conflict” at the Heydar Aliyev Center. The head of state made a speech at the opening ceremony. Speech of President Ilham Aliyev Dear ladies and gentlemen, Dear guests, First of all I would like to greet all the participants of the forum and express my gratitude to our guests for being with us today. We have guests from more than 100 countries, more than 500 foreign representatives participate in the forum. This shows that the forum in a relatively short period of time transformed into a global platform to address one of the most important issues of today's agenda, issues of cultural dialogue. I remember eight years ago, when we held the first forum probably we did not even imagine that the forum will get such a broad international support. Our initiative to organize world forum on intercultural dialogue in 2011, was based on our history, our geography, and our understanding that in order to make world safer we need to be very active on the issues of promotion dialogue between civilizations, between cultures, between representatives of different religions and ethnic groups. And broad international support which was shown to the forum encourages us. Today among organizers of the forum we have leading organizations of the world, and our joint efforts, joint activity contributes to the cause of intercultural dialogue. Azerbaijan is a place where, for centuries, representatives of different religions, ethnic groups have lived, created, communicated. For centuries Azerbaijan has been the land of religious tolerance, peaceful coexistence of representatives of different nationalities. Our history, our geography shows that only in the spirit of partnership, in the spirit of mutual respect we can achieve success. Today Azerbaijan's rapid development is also based on this cultural heritage, also is driven by the solidarity which all the representatives of our society demonstrate. We are proud of our history, we are proud of our historical monuments which also demonstrate that for centuries representatives of different religions have lived and created in Azerbaijan. We are proud of our ancient history. One of the oldest mosques in the world is situated in the ancient city of Shamakhi. One of the oldest churches in the Caucasus, the church of Caucasian Albania, is situated in our ancient city of Shaki. Our history is the history of cultural diversity and today based on that historical heritage Azerbaijan demonstrates to the world that intercultural dialogue is the only way how to bring countries closer, how to establish more bridges between representatives of different religions and civilizations. Multiculturalism for us is the way how we live. This is a relatively new word but we have lived in this atmosphere for centuries. And the fact that 2016 was declared the year of multiculturalism in Azerbaijan demonstrates that we want to attract attention of the world to this important idea. 2017 was announced the year of Islamic Solidarity. That was also a symbolic step, demonstrating our historical heritage, our roots, and our openness to the world. And I think these tendencies, if they prevail, prevail globally will make our world safer, more predictable, and more peaceful. Multiculturalism for us also is one of the important elements of our policy and the international center of multiculturalism was created in Azerbaijan, and we are promoting these values, we are demonstrating that multiculturalism has a great future. We all know that there are different views regarding this issue. But I think our forum and numerous international events organized in Azerbaijan and different parts of the world with this agenda clearly shows that we are all trying to promote the values of multiculturalism. World forum on international dialogue, is one of the important international events globally, and of course for our country, but at the same time Azerbaijan during the last years hosted numerous international events, such as World Religious Leaders' Forum, traditional Baku Humanitarian Forum, seven times we organized Baku Global Forum, which is also a very important platform to address the issues of political development and cultural dialogue. That forum is organized by Nizami Ganjavi International Center and many other important international events. Thus, we are trying to attract attention of the world community to these important issues. I am sure that the discussions at the forum today and tomorrow will not only reveal the problems and allow the speakers to express their views but will also contribute to strengthening the partnership, solidarity, cooperation and as a result will build more bridges between cultures. Last year, we celebrated the tenth anniversary of Baku Process. This is also an initiative that we are proud of. I remember when we launched this initiative in 2008, it immediately got very positive international approach and attention. That was for the first time, when Azerbaijan brought together ministers of cultures of member states of the Council of Europe, and member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and more than hundred countries got together in Baku, in order to discuss the prospects for cooperation. We organized another session with participation of above mentioned ministers in 2009. And this initiative was named Baku process, and today Baku process is one of the most important instruments of dialogue between Europe and the Muslim World. Azerbaijan as one of the few countries which is the member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and European institutions is playing its natural and I am sure, positive role in establishment of contacts in providing opportunities for dialogue-dialogue what we need. We need dialogue in issues related to culture, in issues related to inter-religious relations. We need dialogue on all the issues. Political agenda, on economic cooperation, on issues related to security, and the name of the forum is dialogue. So, that is what we present to the world and that's what gets very broad international support. So, Baku process today is an initiative which is supported by United Nations, by other leading international organizations and of course, I am sure that Baku process has a great future. The forums like this attracts attention of international community to the issues of cultural dialogue. It elaborates new ideas, new approaches and for those, who make decisions in different countries and international organizations, I think this is a very good and positive platform to make right decisions. Azerbaijan in this respect, inside the country and outside, conducts the policy which is based on mutual understanding, on cooperation, we are building bridges. We are situated between Europe and Asia, and our geography of course, influenced our history, and is influencing our today's development. Today Azerbaijan as a relatively new independent country plays an important role in building bridges between Europe and Asia. Political, economic, cultural and bridges from practical point of view, connectivity, transportation. Last year we celebrated the 27th anniversary of our independence and during this period of time Azerbaijan transformed into a modern, developing country with modern infrastructure and with a very clear vision for the future. One of the main problems we are facing for many years is the Armenian occupation. For more than 25 years Armenia continues to occupy our historical land Nagorno-Karabakh, and seven other districts of Azerbaijan. This is brutal violation of international law. Our people were subject of ethnic cleansing, more than one million refugees became homeless as a result of Armenian aggression and occupation. The OSCE twice sent a fact-finding mission to occupied territories and their report clearly show that all our historical heritage, all our historical religious monuments are destroyed. United Nations Security Council adopted 4 resolutions demanding immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian troops from our territories and these resolutions remain on paper. So this is one of the indicators that sometimes resolutions of the Security Council are not implemented for so many years and there is no mechanism of implementation or if there is a mechanism it is not applied and thus Azerbaijani lands are still under occupation. Numerous international organizations like the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Non-Alligned Movement, OSCE, Council of Europe and other adopted similar decisions and resolutions with respect to territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. Territorial integrity of Azerbaijan is recognized by the whole world and must be restored and the conflict must be resolved based on international law norms, relative UN Security Council resolutions, the UN Charter, Helsinki Final Act and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. Despite this huge problem and humanitarian catastrophe, Azerbaijan managed to transform into a modern country with very active foreign policy with economic policy which allowed us to improve largely the living standards of our people. On foreign policy track Azerbaijan is a reliable partner to many countries. We area active member of Islamic Cooperation Organization, we have very close ties with European Union and with nine members of EU Azerbaijan adopted documents on strategic partnership. As I said Baku Process is our contribution to establishing bridges between Europe and the Muslim world. In other words, our foreign policy agenda is based on cooperation, on strengthening partnership and on mutual benefits. And our foreign policy allows us to implement very important international energy transportation projects because without good cooperation, with partners, with different countries it is not possible to implement these projects. Our economic development during the last period of time was also supported by our energy projects. And together with our neighbors and with our partners we managed to connect the Caspian Sea with Black Sea, Caspian Sea with Mediterranean Sea by diversified network of pipelines thus providing energy security for us, for our neighbors and for many countries in the world. And today when we are actively working on the implementation of the Southern Gas Corridor this is a new scale of the project. This project already makes it possible for seven countries to get together and to take benefit and advantage of this. Our economic development during the last 15 years was the fastest in the world. We implement very important reforms which allow us to improve largely the business climate in our country, to attract investments. And according to the World Bank’s latest assessment Azerbaijan is number 25 with respect to Doing Business Programme of the World Bank and business climate is very friendly to foreign investments. We are working now on the strategy of reducing our foreign debt which is low-it is about 19 percent of GDP. And at the same time, we are working on issues related to diversification of our economy and eradication of unemployment and poverty. That was one of the main topic on our agenda because our economic development is transformed into the increase in living standards of our people. Fifteen years ago, around 50 percent of our population live below the poverty line, now this figure went down to about 5-6 percent. And poverty, unemployment, social inequality, illiteracy-they are one of the sources of radicalism, extremism. Azerbaijan is a very active partner in the fight against international terrorism, radicalism, extremism. At the same time, we promote to the world the values of Islamic civilizations, we organize numerous exhibitions, presentations, cultural events in different parts of the world to demonstrate our culture and to demonstrate the culture of our partners in other Muslim countries. Talking about the connectivity, I would like to mention the projects which Azerbaijan participates in, particularly the transportation projects. We look at these projects not only from the point of view of transportation connectivity, these projects actually change the atmosphere in the region. They create the broad format for international cooperation. Azerbaijan is situated on the ancient Silk Road and modern infrastructure which we created recently has already transformed Azerbaijan into an important transit country. And without close cooperation with our immediate neighbors and other partners it is not possible to become a transit country. You need neighbors, you need partners. Therefore, investments in transportation automatically lead to a more predictable situation in the region where the countries share the benefit. Our policy is to achieve our goals, to make country stronger through cooperation, through mutual understating and through shared benefits. In our policy related to energy security we are always trying to find a proper balance between producers, transit countries, and consumers. Because there should be a win-win situation. Otherwise it will not work. And we always must be ready to extend support to our partners when they need it and of course if we need this support we also expect the same from our partners. Azerbaijan is also an active participant of the North-South transportation network. Thus, if you look at the map you will see that from north to south, from east to west the transportation lines cross our country. But in order to do that we had to work hard. Geography is not enough, geography is only a prerequisite, a basic element but we invested largely in transportation infrastructure, sea ports, railroads, airports, highways so that today Azerbaijan from geographical point of view and point of view of transportation hub can provide a lot of opportunities for our partners. Dear friends, today’s Forum is a remarkable event here in Azerbaijan. I once again like to express gratitude to all our partners, partner organizations, intellectuals, politicians, public figures, representatives of NGOs, representatives of media, scientists who participate at the Forum. I am sure that the discussions will be very productive and as a result of discussions the recommendations will be provided. And I am sure that those who make decisions about the future of their countries or regional development will take into account our recommendations and the world will be more stable, secure and safe. Thank you very much. The event then featured the screening of a video highlighting the history of civilizations, ongoing conflicts and acts of terrorism across the world, and the atmosphere of tolerance in Azerbaijan. Other speakers at the event included High Representative of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations Miguel Ángel Moratinos, Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences at UNESCO Nada Al-Nashif, Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Yousef Bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, and Director General of the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri. The forum is organized by the Azerbaijani government in partnership with UNESCO, the UN Alliance of Civilizations, the UN World Tourism Organization (WTO), the Council of Europe, and the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO). High-ranking officials from more than 100 countries and 30 international organizations attend the event.
 
Kuwait hosts 46th General Assembly of Federation of Arab News Agencies
The 46th General Assembly of the Federation of Arab News Agencies (FANA) has been held in Kuwait City, capital of the State of Kuwait. Organized under the auspices of Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, the event brought together heads of member agencies, including president of the Organization of Asia-Pacific News Agencies (OANA) and News Agencies World Congress, chairman of Board of Azerbaijan State News Agency (AZERTAC) Aslan Aslanov, as well as head of the agency’s Arabic language news service Shikhali Aliyev. In his opening remarks, Kuwait's Information Minister and Minister of State for Youth Affairs Mohammed Al-Jabri noted that media outlets play a major role in promoting awareness among people while also shouldering the responsibility of addressing rumours that aim to destabilize relations, as well as confronting such immoral ideas, especially from terrorizing extremist factions. The Kuwaiti minister thanked chairman of Board of AZERTAC, OANA president Aslan Aslanov for accepting the invitation to attend the conference. Addressing the event, FANA Chairman Sheikh Mubarak Duaij Al-Sabah and FANA Secretary General Farid Ayar highlighted the issues to be discussed at the conference. Following the opening ceremony, participants viewed a photo exhibition organized by KUNA. The conference continued with breakout sessions. The first breakout session featured a report highlighting FANA’s annual activities, as well as discussions on the challenges ahead, the organization’s budget, and its participation in training programs. Addressing the session, president of OANA and News Agencies World Congress, chairman of Board of AZERTAC Aslan Aslanov highlighted beneficial cooperation between regional media outlets. Hailing the development of AZERTAC’s cooperation with Kuwait’s KUNA, and Saudi Arabia’s SPA agencies, Aslan Aslanov expressed his confidence that the excellently organized conference in Kuwait will give an impetus to expansion of cooperation between both FANA and OANA, and Arab news agencies and AZERTAC. “FANA has made great strides during the presidency of KUNA agency. A professional media expert, close friend of AZERTAC, FANA Secretary General Farid Ayar has made invaluable contribution to these achievements. He makes significant contributions to not only the activities of FANA, but also the activities of the News Agencies World Congress, OANA and other regional media organizations,” Aslan Aslanov said. Describing OANA's website as an important platform to spread information about the Arab world in a wider geography, Aslan Aslanov called Arab news agencies to share more information here. He drew the participants’ attention to the fact that AZERTAC has put forward proposals on establishing a permanent secretariat office, the training academy of the organization, and formation of a financial commission in order to further improve OANA’s activities and turning it into an organization that meets modern requirements. He noted the importance of Arab news agencies’ views in this regard. Pointing to the ways to prevent the spread of fake news, which has nowadays become one of the key problems facing media, the OANA president underlined the need for closer cooperation and the strengthening of the exchange of information and experience between news agencies. The breakout sessions saw the adoption of several decisions. FANA, established in 1975, is headquartered in Lebanon and includes 18 Arab news agencies. The federation is under the Arab League and aims to boost media ties and share experience between the members.
 
Kuwaiti Prime Minister meets with FANA conference participants
Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah has met with participants of the 46th conference of the Federation of Arab News Agencies (FANA), including president of the Organization of Asia-Pacific News Agencies (OANA), chairman of Board of Azerbaijan State News Agency (AZERTAC) Aslan Aslanov. The conference is hosted by Kuwait News Agency (KUNA). The Kuwaiti Prime Minister said news agencies have a crucial role to play in delivering news to general public. He urged journalists to adhere to principles of professionalism and credibility in order to prevent the spread of fake news that negatively impact societies. Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah expressed his regret over the widespread Islamophobia and efforts to associate terror with Islam across the world. The Kuwaiti Prime Minister emphasized the role of OANA and FANA as regional media organizations in combating the policies of disinformation and fake news. Heads of Arab news agencies echoed the Kuwaiti Prime Minister`s views, and noted the importance of deepening cooperation among news agencies in order to tackle the existing threats and challenges. OANA President, chairman of Board of AZERTAC Aslan Aslanov made remarks at the meeting. He said that thanks to wise policies pursued by the heads of state cooperation between Azerbaijan and Kuwait is developing, and added that “this puts additional responsibility on news agencies”. Aslan Aslanov underlined the importance of strengthening ties among news agencies to address modern challenges, and described friendly relations and close cooperation between AZERTAC and KUNA as the perfect example of such collaboration. The Kuwaiti Prime Minister echoed Aslan Aslanov`s views, saying the heads of state play a key role in developing Kuwait-Azerbaijan ties. He said it is important that news agencies boost cooperation to promote the two countries` achievements in the world. The Kuwaiti Prime Minister hailed Aslan Aslanov`s participation in the FANA conference.
 
FANA, OANA chiefs mull cementing media cooperation
Federation of Arab News Agencies (FANA) Chairman Sheikh Mubarak Duaij Al-Sabah and President of the Organization of Asia-Pacific News Agencies (OANA) Aslan Aslanov discussed means to give impetus to bilateral cooperation. Sheikh Mubarak, also board chairman and director general of Kuwait News Agency (KUNA), deliberated with Aslan Aslanov, also chairman of the board of Azerbaijan State News Agency (AZERTAC), expanding cooperation between KUNA and OANA to live up to the distinguished relations between the two nations. During the meeting, Aslan Aslanov offered Sheikh Mubarak a memorial gift: a carpet and two books. One of the books highlights the Baku-hosted fifth News Agencies World Congress, which was attended by the Azerbaijani President. The book features congress material in Azerbaijani, English and Russian languages, includes speech of Sheikh Mubarak. The second book includes photos provided by world news agencies, including KUNA. In a statement to KUNA following the meeting, Aslan Aslanov expressed pride of the strong friendship bonds between Azerbaijan and Kuwait. Aslan Aslanov, who arrived in Kuwait to attend FANA's 46th General Assembly, underlined the importance of such of meetings in developing media sector in both countries to cope up with the rapid shift from conventional to technology-based media.
 
KUNA successful in chairing FANA – OANA president
The positive impact of the Federation of Arab News Agencies (FANA) globally represents KUNA’s success in chairing the federation, said President of the Organization of Asia-Pacific News Agencies (OANA) Aslan Aslanov. OANA’s President Aslan Aslanov, also Chairman of the Board of Azerbaijan State News Agency (AZERTAC), made the remarks to KUNA upon his arrival in Kuwait on Saturday, to attend FANA’s 46th General Assembly on Sunday. He noted that FANA Chairman and Director General of KUNA Sheikh Mubarak Duaij Al-Ibrahim Al-Sabah provides great support for Arab and international news agencies. Aslanov said he is willing to cooperate with FANA and KUNA in providing transparent and neutral coverage of news. He added that inaccurate or untruthful news and social media are among the biggest challenges facing the media field now. FANA, established in 1975, is headquartered in Lebanon and includes 18 Arab news agencies. The federation is under the Arab League and aims to boost media ties and share experience between the members. Sheikh Mubarak was elected as FANA Chairman during the 43rd conference held in Kuwait in 2015 and was re-elected for another two-year term in Jordan last year.
 
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