April 19, 2006

International conference "Azerbaijan: Past and Present in Dialogue of Civilizations" held in Baku

The international conference entitled "Azerbaijan: Past and Present in Dialogue of Civilizations" commenced April 19 at the Heydar Aliyev Foundation. Taking into consideration historical and cultural traditions of Azerbaijan, its role in the region of the historical Silk Road, Latin Culture Academy is holding the 13th conference together with the Heydar Aliyev Foundation. The conference gathered outstanding workers of culture, poets and writers of Latin origin from 30 countries.

Prior to the conference, conference participants visited the Alley of Honors to visit national leader Heydar Aliyev`s grave, revering his memory and laying carnations at the monument to the great politician and statesman.

Then visitors were familiarized with Heydar Aliyev Foundation.

Executive director of the Foundation Anar Elekberov greeted the visitors on behalf of Mrs Mehriban Aliyeva, President of Heydar Aliyev Foundation and Friends of Azerbaijani Culture Foundation, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, MP. He informed of the goals of the Foundation established in the memory of genius person, architect and constructor of independent state of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev.

Visitors were acquainted with the rich exhibition of the Foundation. Unique documents taken from the archive of the great leader on his childhood, youth, higher school years, separate periods of his activity, numerous pictures reflecting the very various moments of his life and creating a wide idea of the entire history of Azerbaijan, gifts presented to him by the popular political figures all over the world, photos taken with leaders of different countries, figures of science, culture and art left deep impression on them. His certificate and diploma proving he has graduated from the secondary and higher schools with excellent marks only, honor diploma for excellent education and exemplary conduct, references on his positive features at the bodies he worked, pictures taken in different meetings held in various points of former USSR, cities and districts of the republic, things in the working room revived once more the honorable life. Visitors viewed with great interest photos of the great leader taken with parents, beloved wife, famous ophthalmologist, academician Zarifa Aliyeva, children.

Then, the international conference entitled "Azerbaijan: Dialogue between Civilizations of the Past and the Present" was opened at Heydar Aliyev Foundation.

President of Heydar Aliyev Foundation Mrs Mehriban Aliyeva opened the conference.

Film `Address of Tolerance - Azerbaijan` developed by the Foundation was displayed. The 15-minute film talks about the origin of Azeri nation, its religion, history of religions existing in our country and modern state of religious confessions.

Then, secretary general of Latin Culture Academy CANDIDO MENDES gave a speech:

Dear friends!

Very detailed information on the values we support was provided in the speech of First Lady of Azerbaijan and professionally made film. We know that Azerbaijan is firmly going towards the future just in this way. We are very glad for creation of relationship as the God desires among different religions just in Azerbaijan. Implementing a big obligation we give you the message of Latin-origin countries.

Latin Culture Academy is an international organization freed from politics, trying to solve the problems through mental and educational ways. We are very delighted today to see the outstanding figures of Latin culture, most advanced scholars together in this hall. Professor Jean-Michel Blanquer is the most advanced expert worldwide dealing with these problems. Scholars in field of sociology from Latin America are present in the conference. We back the efforts of Azerbaijan. It is not by chance that we hold this conference on the coast of Caspian. Coming to other countries we widen our opportunities and potential. Confessing the role of Azerbaijani figures gathered here we express gratitude to the hosts, books given to us.

Dear chairperson, we will exchange the major ideas. With Your speech you provided us a nice rhythm. We will not have a simple scientific rhetoric only. We want to raise fundamental issues. We want to make clear what we can do, how we can say our word in the world. We should unite our efforts in base of main values in this world that has undergone the rhetoric of silence, say our word to the large audience. History of terrorism should be historically analyzed. How we should understand the role of universities, schools. We are aware of different trends worldwide. Mrs Chairperson, our academy tries to change the existing state via real methods. The conference has been organized just in this course. So far we have held conferences in Tehran, Istanbul, Alexandria, Ankara and lastly we are in Baku. The conference is to be held in Oman next year.

We have held a conference in Haiti, a state not so famous but with ancient history located between Africa and Latin America. Some were finding this country forgotten by God. We are intended to organize a conference in Ecuador this year.

What is the main issue we will discuss? I want to mention three of them. I think these are very necessary. Actually, during all the history empire concepts were connected to occupation of states located in frontier. But we should approach the concept once again. We will look for answers to main questions concerning frontier, empires and formation of nations. One of the issues widely reflected in Your speech is the factors making Azerbaijan unique. You are a secular state and have achieved to have different religions and cultures together. This is really an appreciable success and makes Azerbaijan a unique country. We have some views. We will hold a conference in Stockholm. In this conference we should inform about the deepness of philosophers of Islam world. They should see the Islam world with new eyes, with eyes of expert. I think Sweden, Stockholm is one of the most suitable places to suggest these ideas to the West.

Rationalism is a value not belonging to West only. This is our major opinion. Continuing the rationalism we should enrich it with Islam culture and prevent the hegemonism. We do not say that rationalism comes from West. Talking of all these we get back to issues characterizing Your great country ensuring common life to different nations. As a country with big future prospects, Azerbaijan deserves special attention. You are not the absolute Eurasian country. You are a country able to ensure the balance between these two geopolitical lines. Just because of this Latin Culture Academy tries to create abridge among Slavs, Turks and other Eurasian nations. Mrs Chairperson, I want to mention the role of Caucasian region is undeniable. Because Caucasus is a big artery, a big way. Caucasus is maybe the beating heart of Eurasia. Just from this point of view, Your optimism about the future gives chance to make Azerbaijan a country of innovation.

It is very necessary to us to see the development of the history from Azerbaijan. We bow to you for this and thank you for realizing this nice dialogue in Your country.

We have a danger of the third world war. Seeing the tension growing between Tehran and USA we should understand the result can be caused by hegemonism in this process. We are gathered in here in a very dramatic time for the world. Prince of Jordan is present here. He possesses big prestige, is human rights commissioner and helps poor and helpless people. We should listen to such people not to get into undesirable situations. If we want to continue more widely the peace rhetoric, humanist ideas, we should be aware of confrontations and look for ways to resolve them. We hope Prince Al-Hasan bin Talal, who is with us at present, will help to more deeply understand the issues disturbing the world.

Prince of Jordan Hashemite Kingdom, chairman of Roma Club AL-HASAN BIN TALAL said in his speech:

My dear sister, Mrs Mehriban Aliyeva! You perhaps know that my mother was born in Istanbul. I am a person acting as a bridge between Arab and Turkish worlds. I am functioning as the first Asian chairman of Roma Club and represent together with big friend of Azerbaijan Ihsan Dogramaci the big organization titled Cultures Parliament. This organization is located in Turkey and operates due to the greatest philosophers over the world. At the moment we should not fight against each other but against racial discrimination, these harms. We should resist against pressures and advance certain models of initiatives to make dialogue among civilizations possible. There are thousands of cultures in the world. I understand it is difficult to them to meet and speak with each other. Talking to former Israeli premier Simon Peres he complained to me that he got enemies around him. I said him yes, you got many problems. But I am working among my friends. How can the dialogue be achieved without pluralism? As Your national poet Nizami Ganjavi said that there are seven beauties in the world. The work about these seven beauties is not the masterpiece of Azeri literature only but as well is the message to the universe saying we live in the same world. Instead of supporting the confrontation, we should try for establishment of positive ties between West and East. These wise words that we need so much were said by Nizami yet in XII century. Many wise people have lived in this world, but there has always been lack of wisdom.

Latin Culture Academy is very nice standard, the organization implementing the dialogue among different cultures. We should establish our relations not only in base of dialogue. We should be partners. Continuing the traditions of Sufism, we should enlighten each other, join the initiatives we should had done long ago. I am sure we will propagate the tolerance, respect to each other via this region, this center of culture that is located between Black and Caspian Seas, connecting Europe and Asia. We live in the world in which there are many sharp problems, many ethnic and religious conflicts. I speak here not as a representative of the Hashemite but as a Muslim. The Hashemite comes from Prophet Mohammad. We introduce us as reps of a big generation, Ibn Rusht, Ibn Sina. Prophet Ibrahim was father of all Muslims but he cared about Christians and Jews at the same time. I was maybe the only Muslim representative in the event held in Oxford upon Prophet Ibrahim. We are face to face with a big danger, ideologists drive us to the big gulf. According to the ideologists, the truth is what they say only. Christianity says Jesus should come and he will destroy enemies of Christianity. But according to Muslims Jesus will destroy enemies of Islam. We should ask ourselves the future of our children in this world based on confrontation. Should we be confident in future in this situation? Will not we be hostage of problems created by us? What is our legacy to our children? Will they be able to solve their problems of diversity in frame of civilization? As reps of different cultures in what way we should approach these problems? Surely, not with emotions but mentally. Muslim population intends to introduce itself as victim. Will not an unworthy treatment bring to efforts of restoring rights by causing explosions? Just because of this a bridge must be built between financial bodies and forces deprived of possibilities. This is the majority not silent but made keep silence that may cause an explosion some day.

Mrs Aliyeva, You support the settlement of issues raised through education. My sister-in-law has tried for 20 years to educate Muslim population in Bangladesh. We value the citizenship as a wealth presented from God. If we do not help the poor they will never partake in these processes. If possibilities are not granted to those deprived of possibility they will face extremist forces. In funeral of my sister-in-law Muslim scholars said I could make a speech. I said we are not in home of man or woman but of God. Why you do not let women, creatures of God, in the mosque? We should support rights of poor majority, provide possibilities to those made keep silence. If we have achieved to override obstacles in Europe through Helsinki Assembly, will we be able to create peace in Islam world?

Can we build great Silk Road from Asia to Atlantic Ocean? Maria Rabrius Riges told us last year in Ankara there is nothing dangerous but fear. My French colleague Domenique Moyzi says European and Western countries are face to face with three fears. I do not believe in apple or orange, I do in pomegranate. But we should not confront West with Islam. West is a part of the world but Islam is not, Islam is a culture. How can we confront West with Islam? It is the Muslim, Arab centers that have passed the heritage of ancient Greco-Roman culture to West.

Three fears of West are immigrants, Islam and new systems created in Asia. I think by progressive management and respecting public values we can change these three fears to three big hopes. It will have other result. In base of this we will be able to contribute to solidarity of cultures. New economic models would surely richen the world. We can develop through partnership only and see its fruits.

Talking of Middle East we indeed talk about the poorest and most dangerous region of the world from morocco to Bangladesh with the biggest density of population. Just for this I have offered to establish the committee of hundred Islam philosophers. Azerbaijanis should be involved in that committee as well. Women, men, elderly, youth, state and civil society reps should be involved in this committee. I want to deliver the message of this conference in Baku to the wide audience. I do not support the democracy based on self-murderer terrorism. I want us to direct the masses to fully different course.

We should pay attention to many fields. We should not change our region to the one where countries are dependent on each other. We want to see the world not ruled by 5-8 nuclear states but integrated world. We want to establish committee of 10 nuclear states. We know at present there are 5 nuclear states. What about Northern Korea, India, Pakistan, Iran and Israel? I think this region rich of energy resources should be freed of nuclear weapon. I think the Earth should become a source of energy resources serving the mankind. I will recently meet in Turkey with foreign minister Abdullah Gul. We are working on the initiative `Voices of Asia`. We implement this initiative via 9 committees from Beirut to Singapore. Issues in field of trade, investment, politics are discussed.

We should pay more attention to enlightenment, religious tolerance. Ensuring free information exchange, looking with new eyes at the world, our saint books and saint books of other religions we should remove the features separating us, connect the factors uniting us.

Then, deputy director general of UNESCO for social and humanitarian sciences JEROME BIRNDEN delivered a speech:

I greet you on behalf of UNESCO director general Koichiro Matsuura and wish success to the conference.

You know that UNESCO also has been trying for long for these dialogues. In this conference we will talk of creation of close relations among cultures and this is of great importance in all times. We will talk of monoculture of technical civilization that explains the difference of cultures. You be surprised by some of my views. But the universe has reached such a level that culture does not bring only special changes our homes. Using biological and technological means special changes bring certain cultures to conducts of people. This is a fact going in the path of development. This fact has special reflections. So, if we want the dialog of civilizations to be successful we should pay attention to development and implementation of special program upon analysis of all details of monoculture and self-isolated culture. If the monoculture is subject today to talks, then its doors can be opened to the entire world.

But what were the means in this field? Even family culture samples were made some changes. English scholars studying culture and conduct of people paid attention to the impact of new lifestyle on the culture and decided that unfortunately some may consider that these features have negative impact on culture of people in different countries worldwide. That is why the human being is obliged to see strange cultures in strange way. Massacres, genocides have happened. All these brought to unpleasant psychoanalytic changes in their brains. Commission has been founded at UNESCO to study such cases.

There is an opinion that a day will come and the cultures will cause changes not only in behavior of people but in anatomy, physiognomy. Certain changes have already happened in character, genetic structure of people. We should ask ourselves the frames of this. Current biological reality, cloning proves the mankind should prevent the outrage.

In frame of current development of industry will human being be able to protect its behavior? Will this change have impact on normal approach towards religions or not? This impact will be negative or positive?

I consider the universe should take into consideration the impact of rapidly going industrial changes, technical progress on conduct and culture of people. If it is good then which approaches should be considered. According to some experts, it is not the question that development of medicine should serve progress of human being. Special project was developed regarding this. We will attach special importance to biological ethics. We received appeals from member countries and several proposals advanced. All should obey to the documents developed. From the birth the human being undergoes a number of negative impacts. How can the human being protect itself in such circumstance? One of such ways is development of education, to stay in certain cultural frame.

CANDIDO MENDES: In her speech Mrs Mehriban Aliyeva talked of the pomegranate. Pomegranate is very attractive fruit. On behalf of all the leading scholars representing various cultures I want to present Mrs Chairperson the image of the flower symbolizing Latin Culture Academy. From this day You are the honor member of our Academy.

Mrs Mehriban Aliyeva was presented a diploma of honor member of the Academy and a present specially made by Brazilian masters.

MRS MEHRIBAN ALIYEVA: Dear conference participants, I once again say `Welcome to our country!` to all participants, our distinguished guests. You will be provided these days with opportunity to have close familiarization with Azerbaijan. I express my gratitude to Mr Mendes and Mr Jerome Birnden who made very comprehensive speech in the opening of the conference. I am confident and hopeful that this conference dedicated to the most complicated problems of the modern world will be effective and successful. Many thanks.

The participants of the event viewed the exhibition of manuals in different languages, samples of literature translated into foreign languages, music albums developed and published by initiative and on the basis of projects of Heydar Aliyev Foundation.

State and government officials, MPs, heads of religious organizations, reps from scientific and higher education institutions, international organizations, foreign ambassadors to the country were present at the conference. The conference is to be closed on April 21.