August 24, 2005

'UNESCO-Azerbaijan: Bridge to Future' the Conference

Conference 'UNESCO-Azerbaijan: Bridge to Future' was held in Gulustan palace, August 24.

Conference was opened by President of Heydar Aliyev Foundation, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Mehriban Aliyeva.

Speech by Mehriban Aliyeva:

Mr Director General!

Dear Mrs Matsuura!

Dear goodwill ambassadors!

Ladies and gentlemen!

I greet all the participants of this conference, say 'Welcome!' to all you. I believe the conference will be very effective and has its positive impact on development of education in Azerbaijan.

First of all let me to greet on behalf of all you Director General of UNESCO Koichiro Matsuura paying a visit to our country. I express my gratitude to Mrs Takaka Matsuura for having time and coming to Azerbaijan with Mr Matsuura.

I want to mention that there are my colleagues, UNESCO goodwill ambassadors today among our guests. Let me introduce them to you.

I introduce to you famous French astronaut Mr Patrick Bodri and his family members. I would like to emphasize that Mr Patrick Bodri is author of the project of Europe cosmic camp for youth. He has numerous successful projects on education.

Goodwill Ambassador Mr Omar Zulfu Livaneli is among our distinguished guests. His rich creativity serves the establishment of dialog among nations and cultures.

Goodwill Ambassador Mr Kitin Minyoz is a famous traveler and scientist. He has done very important works in popularization of peace ideas and protection of environment. I greet him and his spouse coming with him to our country and introduce to you.

Perfect musician Ivri Gitlis has been serving already for 20 years the development of culture and education. He is well-known in a number of countries with his songs calling for peace and solidarity.

Goodwill Ambassador Mrs Ki Fuk Fan Ti has devoted all her life to peace and reconciliation ideas. International Ki Fund created by her helps the children damaged during military conflicts. I introduce you her and his husband.

Responsible employees and experts of UNESCO have come to Azerbaijan along with dear Mr Director General. A number of experts have been to our country, worked out different projects on education problems of children from refugee and IDP families and successfully continue today their ties with us.

Very prestigious reps of Azerbaijani education are present today in our conference. I believe you will try to apply ideas of this conference in your concrete activity. I wish you success in this work.

Ambassadors and reps of international organizations are present here. I hope they also will help the process of integration of Azerbaijani education to the world arena.

Our conference has very symbolic and considerable title: Bridge to Future. I believe we together will manage to create this bridge.

Dear friends! You know well the documents of the world education forum held due to support of UNESCO in Dakar in 2000. Indeed this is a strategy set for all of us in field of education. Surely every country should take into consideration its national features and experience gained in education field while implementing this strategy.

Reforms carried out in education system of Azerbaijan were confirmed as special state program. Except this global program, Education Ministry and other structures linked to education work on very important projects. Prestigious international organizations are involved in some of these projects.

I would like to emphasize a project on education, specially talk about the project 'New school to renewing Azerbaijan'. A number of structures of civil society take part in this project together with public structures. In frame of this project, implemented by the initiative of Heydar Aliyev Foundation, construction of 132 schools in different regions of the republic and equipment with required appliances have been considered only for this year.

Today I want to note with big pride that a big-scale project was implemented in Azerbaijan within this year. According to order of President of the republic the most valuable works of classical, modern Azerbaijani and world literature are published on Latin-type. In frame of this project more than 250 books have been published so far with 25,000 circulations and presented to Azerbaijani readers. Every school, library of Azerbaijan has been ensured with these books. Those books are shown today in this palace.

In a word, governed by all these we can say that direction of our education's development is right and we got big successes. But along with the successes there are unsolved problems in our education system. A number of these problems are characteristic to former Soviet Union. I think implementation of pilot projects would be good for solution of these problems. Such experience could be used in other former soviet republics.

Armenia-Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is the most painful problem of us. Azerbaijan has more than a million of refugees and IDPs. 20% of our territory is under occupation. Unique experience has been gained in our country concerning the organization of education of IDPs. We managed to protect the education infrastructure that existed in the occupied territories before. These schools are located in the camps of refugees and IDPs. We also managed to keep teaching staff and they deal with education of children in camps. It is a unique experience indeed. I believe this experience can be used in all conflict zones. All we wish so much these schools to return to their native places after our lands are released of occupation and continue their activity in normal circumstance.

I hope new programs made together with UNESCO will have its positive impact on education of refugee and IDP children.

Dear Director General! At the end of my speech I would like to present you a book. This book consisted of your speeches is a special publication. This book is opened with your words addressed to Azerbaijani readers. The book includes your speech made in solemn jubilee of 'Dede Gorgud' - heroic epos of Azeri people. I cordially congratulate you on publication of this book. Let me present the book to you and invite you to have the floor.