26 SEPTEMBER. 6.30 PM-
UN SECRETARIAT BUILDING-QATAR CORNER
I sincerely thank The State Committee on Religious Associations of the Republic of Azerbaijan for hosting this innovative event with the Alliance of Civilizations in the margin of the High level Group of Friends Meeting. I would like also to express my appreciation to H.E. Mr. Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan for his commitment to promoting inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue
Your Excellency, Mr. Elshad Iskandarov, you said that “Tolerance is your national heritage” and we at the Alliance of Civilizations have a great respect for this distinctive quality that you find in the people of Azerbaijan.
We are here to appreciate the impact of that national heritage through a journey in the “Land of Tolerance”. There is no better place than the Alliance of Civilizations “to talk the talk and to walk the walk”.
The Alliance of Civilizations is a platform on which the international community can build greater understanding and communication to stem the tide of intolerance and confusion. It can offer a new perspective of hope and peace for security and development when the cultural diversity has been respected.
Out of the four current pillars of the Alliance: Education, Youth, Media and Migration; it is through Education that we need to develop programmes that encourage respect for cultural diversity and that address issues such as fear, intolerance and xenophobia. I have also introduced into the agenda of the Alliance, culture, arts, entertainment, music and sport as additional tools for preventive diplomacy.
This exhibition is a good example! Let me introduce to you REZA DEGHATI: Famous photographer, for his knowledge of the inter religious dialogue and Tolerance in Azerbaijan and in the world.
Philanthropist, idealist, humanist, architect and photographer, Reza, as he is widely known, has been a photojournalist for National Geographic since 1991. He has crisscrossed over 100 countries, photographing conflicts, revolutions and human catastrophes, but also the beauty of humanity.
Reza is deeply involved in the education of future generations. For his dedication to humanitarian causes Reza has received prestigious awards. In 2006, National Geographic awarded him the title of National Geographic Fellow. Reza is the author of 25 books and collaborated this year with Qatar Foundation to illustrate the book Learning a Living: Radical Innovation in Education for Work.
We will continue with his work through an innovative photo contest “Photolerance”. UNAOC will hold this contest together with the State Committee for Religious Associations of the Rep. Azerbaijan, and master photographer Reza Deghati is a good example of involvement of youth in supporting the mission of UNAOC and multiplying the effect of its work.
Tolerance requires practice. Generally, people can easily relate to those similar to them, but they have a more difficult time with those who are different. However, no matter how dissimilar someone is, we all share a universal humanity. Our sentiments and life experiences are what connect us.
Dear Minister, Be assured that we will utilize the facilities of the National Tolerance Center in Baku for the promotion of direct dialogue among religious leaders and for holding training and workshops on inter-faith tolerance for religious advocates.
I look forward to seeing the National Center become an Inter National Tolerance Center for Social Success, and provide lessons-learned to the world.
Last but not least, we appreciate the support to this event by the “Heydar Aliyev Foundation”. We also acknowledge the innovative initiatives by Chairperson, first Lady of Azerbaijan, H.E. Mehriban Aliyeva, aimed at fostering intercultural and interfaith dialogue and understanding on a global scale.
You can count on the Alliance to support your noble objectives and let’s give a big round of applaud to REZA our Master Photographer!