Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me first express my appreciation to the organizers of this session for giving me the opportunity to share some thoughts with you on the Baku Process. This is one of the most important sessions in this forum due to its relevance to the work we do at UNAOC.
I would like to thank H.E. President IlhamAliyev for hosting this Forum. I welcome his commitment towards promoting cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue, in particular through the proclamation of 2016 as the Year of Multiculturalism in Azerbaijan and the “Baku Process”.
As you know, the “Baku Process” started in 2008, with a view to providing avenues for constructive cooperation on tolerance, mutual understanding, and for the promotion of dialogue, peace and diversity.
The “Baku Process” has become a real platform that enables people worldwide to support intercultural dialogue and promote peaceful and inclusive societies. .
The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations is supporting the initiative as it aims at enabling and encouraging people and communities worldwide to take concrete measures towards promoting diversity, dialogue and mutual understanding among nations.
Azerbaijan, because of its geographical position and ethnic composition of its population, has chosen to use cultural diversity as an asset and adopted multiculturalism as a public policy. And I welcome this decision.
For many years, multiculturalism has been the symbol of inclusive and diverse societies in our world. It has also become the answer to social issues in many European countries.
Meanwhile, some European countries have voiced concerns about the effectiveness of their multicultural policies for integrating immigrants.
Cultural diversity includes the recognition of distinct, multiple cultures. When this recognition occurs, it must not be translated into fear, racism, and exclusion.
Let me be clear on this. All cultures are equal. We must adopt multicultularism within our societies, as well as the free practice of customs.
A different course, eventually distorts, undermines and eventually destroys the richness of cultures. Each cultural system has its own originality, which attests to the ingenuity and creativity of humans. Each has an absolute right to preserve its own identity.
In the book “Sad Tropics”, Claude Levy-Strauss showed how new waves of migrants brought renewal, ideas, innovations, and progress to host societies.
Let’s take as a model how Azerbaijan succeeded in using multiculturalism as an asset to build inclusive societies, and how we can learn from its experience.