Press Conference before the 3rd World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue
May 17, 2015 at 17:00
Khojasan Hall Marriot, Baku, Azerbaijan
Your Excellency, Mr. Abulfas Garayev, Minister of Culture & Tourism of Azerbaijan;
Ladies and Gentlemen members of the media,
Good evening everyone. I am very happy to be back to this beautiful city of Baku for the second time. I would like to thank the Government of Azerbaijan and particularly His Excellency, my good friend Mr. Abulfas Garayev, the Minister of Culture and Tourism for his hospitality.
I am also very pleased that the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations is co-organizing for the 3rd year in a row this important forum.
The over- arching theme of this year’s forum is very timely and apt: “Sharing Culture for Shared Security”. It is timely because we need more than any other time to re-enforce the notion that respect for diversity and embracing our shared values is conducive to our shared security as global people living together in a global world. Fostering peaceful and inclusive societies means recognizing the diversities and pluralism which have become a characteristic of our modern globalized world.
And it is apt because there is no other place like Azerbaijan with an amazing mosaic of diverse races, faiths , cultures and languages.
The Alliance is organizing this year one main plenary session and two workshops. The Plenary is titled: “Countering Violent Extremism: the Role of Religious leaders in Promoting Religious Pluralism and Advancing Shared Well-being”. The two workshops are showcasing the work and activities of the alliance around youth focusing on two issues: Youth as Agents of Social Change and Youth and the Responsible Use of Social media.
With the alarming rise in the wave of violent extremism , radicalization and xenophobia , the Alliance, in line with its mandate and mission is seeking to engage religious leaders in the debate about means of combating violent extremism emanating from the belief that religious leaders with their community outreach, are the best mediators of peace and diffusers of faith-based conflicts. In that context, the plenary we are organizing will include among other experts the voices of those religious leaders.
We also believe that youth, being the vulnerable targets of extremists ideologies due to several reasons, should be empowered, through inclusive approaches that would enhance their participation in the society. They are the true agents of change. That being said, the workshop on youth will highlight the projects and activities they have been leading through the Alliance support and mentoring to bridge cultural gaps and promote diversity.
Social Media must not be overlooked as one of the main channels which extremist groups used to reach out to youth. We are being mindful of the freedom of expression , while at the same encourage the constructive use of social media. That will be the focus of the second workshop.
I would like to leave it there. I look forward to our discussions in the next two days.
I am ready to take your questions.