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President Aliyev Praises Cultural and Ethnic Diversity as Key Factor for Peace in Azerbaijan

By Ilham Karimli May 3, 2024

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President Ilham Aliyev and the top-level guests of the 6th International Forum on Intercultural Dialogue, Baku, Azerbaijan, May 1, 2024 / President.Az

President Ilham Aliyev praised Azerbaijan’s cultural diversity as a key factor in fostering peace, stability, and unity within the country, where a positive intercultural dialogue has historically been a cornerstone for peaceful coexistence.

At the 6th World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue in Baku, President Aliyev stated that the multicultural and ethnically diverse Azerbaijani society has managed to protect the most important values throughout the centuries, including the values of tolerance, mutual respect, friendship, and partnership.

“One of the main reasons for successful development of Azerbaijan as an independent country, I'm absolutely sure, is exactly that. All the people who live in Azerbaijan, representatives of different ethnic groups and religions, live as one family, as great citizens of Azerbaijan, as patriots of our state and statehood. They do everything to strengthen our country and to strengthen the positive trends of cultural dialogue and cultural diversity,” he said.

President Aliyev recalled the extremely challenging early years of independence, during which Azerbaijan faced aggressive separatism and occupation along with significant economic and social difficulties. He underscored the unity and strong commitment of the peoples residing in Azerbaijan to national interests as crucial factors that helped survive the hardships.

Additionally, he highlighted the role of interreligious dialogue and multilateralism in Azerbaijan's state policy, which are essential for fostering peaceful coexistence among different religious groups, both within the country and internationally. He also mentioned that the upcoming COP29 climate summit in Azerbaijan will include a special session on interreligious dialogue, underlining its importance in global climate action discussions.

The World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue, launched as integral part of the "Baku Process" on intercultural dialogue initiated by President Aliyev in 2008, first took place in Baku in 2011. It has been held biennially since then, with events in 2013, 2015, 2017, and 2019. Participation in the forum has grown significantly, attracting over 10,000 high-profile participants to date, including more than 700 attendees from 110 countries in this year’s event.

The forums have featured more than 200 diverse activities, including plenary sessions, panel discussions, and presentations. These forums have addressed global challenges and produced documents that serve as key references for international organizations. The "Baku Process" has been recognized as a significant platform for intercultural dialogue.

Interreligious and intercultural dialogue has been essential in maintaining the world-renowned peaceful coexistence within the multiethnic society of Azerbaijan. Promoting a multi-religious coexistence has been a key part of Baku’s strategy to demonstrate moderation, tolerance, and diversity in a country of 10 million, where nearly 97 percent are Muslim.

Three percent of Azerbaijan’s population are Christian; less than 0.2 percent are Jews; and 0.2 percent are either unaffiliated with any religion or belong to minority religious groups. Currently, 2,253 mosques, 16 churches, and seven synagogues are operating across the South Caucasus country.

Azerbaijan’s exemplary religious tolerance made it possible to achieve a peaceful co-existence between the country’s Muslim majority and more than 16,000 Jews and over 250,000 Christians living in the country. There are 956 Islamic, 26 Christian, eight Jewish, one Krishna and two Baha'i religious associations in Azerbaijan.