The 11th Annual Assembly of UNESCO Goodwill Ambassadors in Paris

Goodwill Ambassador of UNESCO Mehriban Aliyeva delivered a speech at the Assembly.

The address by Mehriban Aliyeva:

- Dear UNESCO Director General Mrs. Bokova,

Your Excellency,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Friends!

Welcome to the annual assembly of UNESCO goodwill ambassadors. I sincerely thank Mrs. Bokova for organizing this assembly. I’m greatly honoured to represent Azerbaijan here and be with colleagues.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

In the spring of this year, we organized the Day of Azerbaijan devoted to the 20th anniversary of regain by Azerbaijan of its independence at UNESCO headquarters. Those years our country faced a number of problems and hardships, however we  could manage to get out of that tense situation  decently, and built our statehood. Today’s Azerbaijan is a modern country dynamically developing in all spheres of life including culture, science and education. At the same time, Azerbaijani economy has been developing at a rapid pace, and our country is an economic leader of the region beyond doubts.

Strong and supporting partnership relations have been established between UNESCO and Azerbaijan. UNESCO has been keeping an ongoing cooperation both with the Government of Azerbaijan and non-government organizations functioning in the country, as well as with the Heydar Aliyev Foundation. With support from UNESCO and the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, we have been building new museums and cultural centres, organizing high-level music festivals in Azerbaijan and hold international conferences.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

We have set for ourselves a number of tasks such as improvement of education, preservation of the world cultural heritage and ensuring more extensive access to education and, the most important, providing children with education in poor countries and families in need. One of the first organizations that assist people trapped in hardships is always UNESCO. The subject of today’s meeting is devoted to the obligation our organization undertook with regard to natural disasters and conflicts. Azerbaijan is aware of these issues from its practice.  The Armenian-Azerbaijani and Daghlyg Garabagh conflict has not been resolved yet. Significant part of the country’s lands is under occupation. Over one million refugees and IDPs have been deprived of the chance to return to their native lands. A new generation comprising children born and grown up in refugee and IDP camps learn information about their native lands only from their fathers and grandfathers. Alongside adults, these children too have the right to study and receive medical assistance, develop and have a bright future. Therefore, we understand and share the sufferings of all countries and nations that have experienced military conflicts and natural disasters. These people are in need of food, tents and medical equipment. Normal living conditions of citizens of places affected this way should be restored. As all children of the world, young people that have experienced sufferings of wars and natural disasters have the right to a happy future.

Another significant and difficult task expecting to be resolved by us is protection of historical monuments in zones of military operations and conflicts. These monuments are not protected and, in many cases, destroyed. Such crimes are committed against the world heritage. One of the priority issues for our organization is to protect this heritage.

Ladies and gentlemen!

Since its establishment, UNESCO has protected rights of youth. Creating new opportunities for their education and development is among the main priorities of the organization. Today, youths are main participants in a changing world, and they actively propagandize the culture of dialogue and tolerance. Recent global events have demonstrated how important ensuring the chance for youths to become an active participant of the society’s political, economic and cultural life is.

And now, I’d like to talk of a number of significant initiatives implemented in Azerbaijan!

Let me start listing great works done by the Islamic Conference Youth Forum for Dialogue and Cooperation for building a youth platform  within the Alliance of Civilizations Initiative.  In November 2007, the Forum organized, with support of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and a number of international organizations, an international conference titled “Youth for the Alliance of Civilizations” in Baku. Young leaders fully supported our proposal with regard to the establishment of a global youth organization as a support to the Alliance of Civilizations. After the four years of tense work, the Global Youth Movement for Alliance of Civilizations was founded under the patronage of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation at a first assembly held in April in Baku.

For the purpose of including the gender aspect into the dialogue among civilizations and form women-leaders in an environment of culture of peace, we have presented a special program titled “Girls and Young Women in a Dialogue among Civilizations” together with  the Islamic Conference Youth Forum for Dialogue and Cooperation. This work was initiated in June 2008 in Baku at the International Forum devoted to strengthening the role of women in dialogue among civilizations, jointly organized by UNESCO and ISESCO.

We are continuing to support new and creative ideas of youths in the sphere of information and communication technologies. An international conference titled “Strengthening knowledge and skills of the new generation”, which was held in November 2009 in Baku and brought together ICT experts from about 50 countries, is the proof of this contribution.

I would with pleasure like to mention that in November this year, another international initiative – Young Entrepreneurs Network of ICT countries – will be held in the capital of Azerbaijan. We are impatiently waiting for building that  network, since it would assist in various ways youths in resolving issues such as reduction of unemployment among youths in Muslim countries, youth  radicalism and extremism, as well as joining criminal and other acts.

Dear Friends!

Today we face difficult tasks and problems. This meeting is a good chance to share new ideas and talk about achievements gained and difficulties we faced. UNESCO is a highly influential organization to extend, by its tense labour, this desire further.  

In conclusion, I wish successes to you in your responsible and important job. I wish you also sound health and happiness. 

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