A conference marking the 80th anniversary of Koichiro Matsuura, UNESCO Director-General from 1999 to 2009 has been held at UNESCO headquarters.
First Vice-President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Mehriban Aliyeva attended the conference.
First Vice-President Mehriban Aliyeva made a speech at the event.
Speech by First Vice-President Mehriban Aliyeva
Dear chairwoman of the General Conference,
Dear Mr. Matsuura,
Dear Irina Bokova,
Ladies and gentlemen,
First of all I would like to express my gratitude for invitation, and I am glad to be here among my colleagues and friends at UNESCO.
Let me congratulate you, Mr. Matsuura, on your 80th anniversary and I wish you good health and best of luck.
The work that you accomplished when you were Director-General of UNESCO deserves our best appreciation. Reforms carried out during your tenure allowed to strengthen the image and prestige of UNESCO worldwide. Your name is always mentioned when we talk about many successful projects like, for example, international “Education for All” program and many others.
Under your leadership, the relations between UNESCO and our country Azerbaijan became even stronger. With a sense of deep appreciation we remember your visits to Baku and your personal involvement in joint forums and conferences. I recall your participation at the first international estival the World of Mugham. In your presence, we laid down the foundations of the State Museum of Azerbaijani Carpet and of the International Mugham Center. Together with you, we inaugurated the Museum of Modern Art. Today, these cultural centers have turned into the most visited places of interest in our capital.
In 2007, we signed the document on joint implementation of a project to develop vocational training in Azerbaijan. Then, in 2009, we signed the agreement on cooperation to ensure the strategic goals in protecting intangible cultural heritage.
During your leadership, our historical monuments, Baku’s Old City Icharishahar with Shirvanshahs’ Palace and Maiden Tower as well as Gobustan Rock Paintings were inscribed into the list of UNESCO World
Heritage. The pearls of our music, Mugham and Ashig Art, were included into the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. It’s also thanks to your efforts that back in 2004 I was honored to receive the distinguished title of UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Oral and Musical Tradition. Ever since, I have tried to do my best to justify the trust shown to me.
Dear Mr. Matsuura,
We highly value your personal efforts in strengthening bilateral ties between Azerbaijan and UNESCO.
The history of our cooperation goes back to 1992 when Azerbaijan joined this distinguished organization right after restoring its independence. Since then, Azerbaijan joined and ratified most of UNESCO’s conventions and other legal instruments. Today we participate in the work of UNESCO programs through active representation and contribution.
In 2013, our country and UNESCO signed the Framework Agreement on Cooperation in the fields of Science, Education, Culture and Communication. Azerbaijan thus joined the family of donor countries and started to actively support UNESCO programs and projects in least developed countries of which we are very proud. Among others, I would like to emphasize here our modest contribution to achieving quality education in African countries.
Located in the center of ancient Silk Road, Azerbaijan has a long history as a place where ideals can be shared and people came together in the friendly environment. As a country situated on the crossroads of civilizations, cultures, and religions, Azerbaijan has a lot to offer to international community in terms of cultural dialogue, tolerance and respect toward others. Today, multiculturalism is a national policy in Azerbaijan and we cooperate with the international community, including UNESCO in promoting the values of multiculturalism. I would like to mention here the Baku process, initiated by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, which became a truly global platform for promotion of the intercultural and interfaith dialogue. It was initially put forward as a platform for cooperation between member countries of the
Council of Europe and members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. It was in 2008 that Azerbaijan as a member of both these international organizations initiated a meeting of the Ministers of Culture of OIC and Council of Europe in Baku. And this process continues up to date. This year, we celebrate the 10th anniversary of Baku Process. In close partnership with UNESCO, we have successfully organized four editions of World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue within the Baku Process and we are ready to continue this work in the future. Development of human potential is another area to which UNESCO and Azerbaijan both attached big importance. Quality education and culture are key elements for human development and it is proceeding from this importance that Azerbaijan has chosen the theme of “Developing Human Capital, Building a Better Future” when we put forward the candidacy of Baku as the venue for the World Expo 2025. If successful in our bid, we hope to be able to bring the whole world to Baku and to create a truly universal platform for exchange, dialogue and cooperation. Azerbaijan shows its strong attachment to the values and ideals of UNESCO also through our direct contribution to the protection of World Cultural Heritage and our pro- active humanitarian policy. Let me mention just a few examples in this regard. By constructing a new school for girls Azerbaijan contributed to the efforts of international community to deal with the consequences of a terrible
earthquake in 2005 in Muzaffarabad, Pakistan. In 2011, through agreement with UNESCO, we participated in the restoration of cultural heritage in Haiti that also suffered from an earthquake. Azerbaijan’s charity activity aimed at preservation or restoration of the World Cultural Heritage covers many countries like Berlin Castle in Germany, ancient monuments in Versailles, church in Lower Normandy and Louvre museum in France, ancient manuscripts and catacombs of Saint Marcellus and Peter and San Sebastian in the Vatican, Philosopher Hall in the Capitoline Museum in Italy, Trapezitsa Museum in Bulgaria, and so on.
I could talk much more about the achievements made during decade-long successful leadership of Mr Matsuura in UNESCO. But I know that my other colleagues will also have a lot to share with you this morning. At the end, I just would like to mention Mr Matsuura’s exceptional humane qualities. From my own experience, I can tell that he is someone whose personal level brings peace in the minds of men and women, and therefore, his role in promoting the values and ideals of UNESCO could be hardly overestimated. I really feel happy and proud to have met with this outstanding person. I recall with warm memories our excellent cooperation and friendship. Working with you Mr. Matsuura, has always been pleasure and learning experience for me. I look forward to our future contacts, wish you and your family strong health, happiness, and hope to be able to welcome you soon in Azerbaijan.