By Peter Tase
In May 14th, 2019, Malik Ayub Sumbal, an award winning Pakistani journalist published an article on Azerbaijan’s impressive role in harnessing intercultural dialogue and on its growing leadership in fighting religious discrimination and ethnic violence. In his article Ayub Sumbal states: “Baku hosted 5th World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue in the first week of May in which 500 foreign representatives participated from 100 countries to exchange their views and ideas on the theme ‘Building dialogue into action against discrimination, inequality, and violent conflict’. World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue has been transformed a global platform initiated by the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev to address the most important issues that today’s world is facing through dialogues and discussions. It’s highly appreciated that Azerbaijan has been organizing such kinds of events to promote peace and harmony in the world conflict zones. The leadership of the country highly concerned about the increasing conflicts in the world as Azerbaijan witnessed the miseries of war while bearing one million refugees that fled from the Nagorno-Karabakh, the 20 percent land of Azerbaijan occupied by Armenia in the violation of the United Nations (UN) resolutions.”
The President of Azerbaijan H. E. Ilham Aliyev, in his opening statement at the V Baku World Forum urged the world to get united to strengthen peace, interfaith harmony, and cultural dialogue to make this world the best living place for men. President Ilham Aliyev in his speech said: “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 located in our ancient city of Shaki.”
President Ilham Aliyev stated: “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 the world safer we need to be very active on the issues of promoting dialogue between civilizations, between cultures, between representatives of different religions and ethnic groups.”
According to Malik Ayub Sumbal: “Azerbaijan is the country where leadership strongly believes in the intercultural dialogue and according to the vision of President Ilham Aliyev, the country is a role model to display and practice the interfaith harmony and love among all religions. All religions in this country have equal freedom and rights of performing theirs believes. The tolerance and to accept the other religions believes is deeply inherited in the family values and traditions of Azerbaijani nationals. Azerbaijan has been promoting dozens of forums and platforms on which people discuss for strengthening peace in the region. Baku process is one of the best examples of these initiatives that have been carried out from Azerbaijan.” In the same vein, Paraguayan Congresswoman and Chair of the Human Rights Committee in the Honorable Chamber of Deputies, in the Paraguayan Congress, Dr. Esmérita Sánchez de Da Silva, states that: “The Republic of Azerbaijan has established a constant diplomatic dialogue with Asuncion, the cultural diplomacy of Azerbaijan and intercultural dialogue embraced and encouraged by President Ilham Aliyev are strategic communication tools that will further strengthen the bilateral cooperation between Asuncion and Baku as well as further promote and polish the global pillars of human rights, religious tolerance and transatlantic economic cooperation.”
In the context of Azerbaijan’s geopolitical importance and its role in establishing cultural bridges Ayub Sumbal states: “Azerbaijan is a country that has been bridging between east and west rapidly. The geopolitical location of this country makes it more fascinating between East and West. The connectively of this country is marvelous in the South Caucasian region. Azerbaijan has a huge potential of engaging in constructive dialogues between East and West for the solution of various conflicts and disputes. This country has strong cultural and traditional values based on the principle of humanity and trust. Azerbaijan leadership and the people are looking forward to the world to come and visit this country while exploring love, affection, and tolerance from this ‘Land of Fire’”.