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Director-General: Azerbaijan-UNESCO cooperation at highest level

  • 08/10/2013 --
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Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova appreciates the cooperation with Azerbaijan.

«Collaboration between UNESCO and Azerbaijan is excellent,» Bokova said in an interview with Trend. «This collaboration is personified by the First Lady of Azerbaijan, Mrs Aliyeva, nominated as UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Oral and Music Traditions in September 2004. Through her Good Offices, and thanks to her strong support and active engagement, UNESCO and Azerbaijan have been able to further reinforce their partnership.»

«The sides are committed to strengthening cooperation on a number of priorities,» she said.

«For example, we collaborate in educational projects, including through the Institute for Information Technology, to assess the use of new information and communication technologies in education,» Bokova said. «I know this is linked with Azerbaijan’s national strategy in this regard. Through Azerbaijan’s 19 Associated Schools, part of UNESCO’s global network of schools, we are working together to help bring UNESCO’s core message to young girls and boys. We work together also to review Azerbaijan’s strategies and policies for science, technology and innovation, to assist the Government in designing a new road map in this strategic policy area. We have also cooperated closely in the field of sports, where Azerbaijan has provided leading support to fostering international cooperation around sports and physical education.»

«Culture is a flagship of our cooperation,» she said.

It should be noted that on Oct. 4, Bokova was re-elected as the head of UNESCO.

«Azerbaijan hosts two World Heritage sites,» Bokova said. «Azerbaijan is also a State Party to the 2003 Convention on intangible cultural heritage. As UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, the First Lady has been a guiding light in the promotion of cultural heritage. I am pleased that many Azerbaijani art and cultural traditions — such as the Azerbaijani Mugam, the art of Azerbaijani Ashiq, Novruz, the traditional art of carpet weaving and the performance art of the Tar — are inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.»

In July this year, the Government of Azerbaijan and UNESCO signed a framework agreement on cooperation in the fields of education, science, culture and communication.

«I was honoured to sign this agreement in Paris, together with the Minister of Culture and in the presence of the First Lady,» Bokova said.

«This provided additional proof of Azerbaijan’s deep commitment to international cooperation and to promoting sustainable development,» she added.

«In May, this year, I undertook my second official visit to Azerbaijan, on which occasion I was honoured to meet His Excellency President Ilham Aliyev and high-level Government officials, to discuss current cooperation between Azerbaijan and UNESCO and to shape the future of our partnership,» she said.

«I am deeply encouraged by the strong engagement of Azerbaijan with the ideals of UNESCO and its leadership in taking forward our shared objectives,» she said. «The Framework Agreement clearly expresses Azerbaijan’s desire to strengthen its collaboration with UNESCO, and to provide additional funding to the Organization, in support of our activities in the fields of education, the sciences, culture and communication.»

«In this spirit, the sides have established a Funds-in-Trust Agreement to which Azerbaijan has agreed to generously commit $5 million,» Bokova said.

«This contribution will strengthen UNESCO’s work in the promotion of intangible cultural heritage, in girls’ education, in advancing science and innovation technologies. It reflected also the decision by the Government to second an associate expert to UNESCO in the coming years,» she said.

«Azerbaijan’s membership in UNESCO brings substantial benefits to both to the society of Azerbaijan and to the international community,» she said. «This membership has helped to widen the appeal of Azerbaijan’s millennial culture across the world. It has shined a stronger light on the leadership that Azerbaijan is taking on a number of policy areas — namely, the leadership of President Aliyev in promoting intercultural dialogue, through the «Baku Process».»

UNESCO cooperates with Azerbaijan in the organization of the Baku World Forums on Intercultural Dialogue. «Our partnership in the implementation of the National Action Plan for the Safeguarding of the Mugam of Azerbaijan has produced important results,» Bokova said.

«Our partnership extends also to the conservation of Azerbaijan’s World Heritage sites — the Old City of Baku, including the Shirvanshah Palace and the Maiden Tower, and the Gobustan Rock Art Cultural landscape,» she said. «Our cooperation in STI will provide substantial dividends for more inclusive and sustainable development in the longer term.»

«UNESCO Headquarters in Paris often showcase Azerbaijan’s cultural heritage and achievements,» Bokova said.

«In 2012 and 2013, we have been privileged to host cultural events devoted to the 900th anniversary of the achievements of Mahsati Ganjavi, poetess, painter and calligrapher and the 100th anniversary of the musical comedy Arshin Mal Alan of Uzeyir Hajibeyli,» she said.

«Later this month, Azerbaijan plans to organize events at UNESCO devoted to Sayed Yahya Bakuvi, the 15th century philosopher and poet. In this regard, I wish to underline the active role played by the Permanent Delegation of Azerbaijan to UNESCO in Paris, as well as the Azerbaijan National Commission for UNESCO, in strengthening our bilateral cooperation.»

«Our new Framework Agreement set out in broad terms areas where UNESCO and Azerbaijan will reinforce our collaboration,» Bokova said.

«These include, but are not limited to: «Intangible Cultural Heritage»; «Education for All (EFA)»; «Girls’ Education»; «Science and Innovation Technologies»; «Water preservation»; and «Disaster risk preparedness and mitigation», she said.

«Currently, we are working closely with your authorities to bring this agreement to life and start its full implementation on the ground,» Bokova added.

«I am deeply grateful for Azerbaijan’s offer to host the 8th Intergovernmental Committee on the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Baku in early December 2013,» she said. «Speaking on behalf of the Organization, I wish to thank the Government for its support and generosity regarding a very important event.»

«The 24 members of the Intergovernmental Committee meet every year to discuss a number of issues related to the global implementation of Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage,» she said.

«Chaired by the Minister of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan, H.E. Mr Abulfas Garayev, this 8th Committee session has special significance in light of this year’s tenth anniversary of the Convention.»

«The Committee will carry out its recurrent duties, namely inscribing intangible cultural heritage on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding or on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, selecting Best Safeguarding Practices, granting financial assistance to certain States for safeguarding measures and examining the periodic reports submitted by States Parties on their implementation of the Convention at the national level,» Bokova added.

«In this session, the Committee will also discuss the conclusions of an internal evaluation on the impact of the Convention carried out this year,» she said.

«The evaluation addresses a number of timely topics that will be open for debate — for example, how to enhance NGO and community involvement in the development of policy, legislation, and safeguarding/sustainable development plans, and how to enhance cooperation with sustainable development experts for integrating intangible cultural heritage into non-cultural legislation, policy development and all other work.»

«The evaluation also recommends the promotion of the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding by re-positioning it as an expression of States Parties’ commitment to safeguarding and to the implementation of the Convention, and to clarify misconceptions regarding the purpose and use of the Representative List,» Bokova said.

«This session, to be attended by some 500 participants, will feature several side events, including a digital exhibition entitled «Intangible Cultural Heritage and Sustainable Development»,» she added.

 Trend S. Ahmadova