September 9, 2004

A ceremony devoted to awarding Mehriban Aliyeva the title of UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador

A ceremony in connection with awarding First Lady of Azerbaijan Mehriban Aliyeva the title of UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador was held at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, September 9.

First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva made a speech in the ceremony.

Speech by Mehriban Aliyeva:

Dear Mr. Director General!

Dear ladies and gentlemen!

Allow me to express to UNESCO and personally to You, Mr. Matsuura, deep gratitude for assignment to me of such high rank, as the Ambassador of Goodwill.

One of main principles of UNESCO consists in preservation of the future generations of unique world culture. In my activity, I am also guided by this principle. Therefore, assignment to me of this high rank is not only a great honor, but also high responsibility. This responsibility consists of establishment of connections between cultures and civilizations, between the past and present.

Very often Azerbaijan is called the bridge between the West and the East. It is connected to favorable geopolitical position of our country since the times of the historical Great Silk Road. During all centuries-old history, Azerbaijan is known not only as a transport corridor, but also as the country, capable to tell the word in dialogue of culture. I am proud of that in our country there has been formed completely inimitable cultural space. It was possible for us, having kept unique pearls of our culture, customs and traditions, historical heritage, to adopt samples of world culture. Today, we are witnesses of similarity between elements of culture of various peoples and component of our national culture. It is not casual. Behind these processes, there are many generations of the Azerbaijanis distinguished by the tolerance, kindness, skill to learn and teach, and erecting bridges between the cultures.

Azerbaijan is the native land of such world famous art workers, as Uzeyir Haibayov, Gara Garayev, Sattar Bahlulzadeh, Mstislav Rostropovich. Our people, who gave birth to such persons is really great people.

We not only have kept our national originality, culture, but also have brought to the treasury of world culture such contribution, as the epos "Kitabi-Dede GorgudВ" the 1300th anniversary of which was marked within the framework of UNESCO, the Azerbaijani mugham, including in the list of pearls of oral and non-material heritage. Today, in the century of high technologies, globalizations and information integration, preservation of the non-material heritage makes special value. All mankind is very much interested in preservation of the non-material heritage. The role of UNESCO in this question, certainly, is great.

By the way, I want to emphasize great merits of Mr. Matsuura in acceptance by UNESCO of the Convention on protection of non-material heritage.

Both mugham and ashug creativity, and inimitable melodies of our musical instruments is only a part of the heritage which Azerbaijan people has preserved and which we are obliged to keep in the name of the future. This purpose is served with activity of the Fund of Friends to the Azerbaijan Culture. This purpose will be served also with all my further activity, as Ambassador of Goodwill.

The Azerbaijani people, during many generations could keep the memory, language, music, and skill to create eposes. Today valuable samples of the Azerbaijan culture and art are considered as property of all mankind. I, first of all, perceive the honorary title given to me today as expression of my adherence to principles of UNESCO. I want to assure you that the high award will inspire me and the Fund of Friends to the Azerbaijan Culture headed by me to work with even big diligence in the name of protection of our cultural heritage.

Once again I express gratitude for high estimation of my activity.

Thank you for attention.