Most of our words which are using by our society every day for expressing different emotions, news, and impressions are related to multicultural values, and it means that multiculturalism is one of the most important parts of our daily life.
Nowadays, in the whole world when multiculturalism has a very complicated situation and difficult conditions, in Azerbaijan these values are living, developing, also supported by society and the government. As the worst example of improvement of multiculturalism and respect to different cultures and religions in government, we can show terrible and enormous acts of vandalism done by terroristic Armenian government in occupied territories of Azerbaijan. They have destroyed all historical monuments and mosques which were a part of Azerbaijan’s historical treasure, which shows that sometimes terrorists and occupants try to erase cultural or historical identification for their lucre benefits. The modern world and the international community have to prevent such acts of vandalism and have to do everything to provide the stable conditions for the development of multiculturalism by its natural ways, not by force and killings as it was done in occupied territories of Azerbaijan.
On May 14, 2014, our President Ilham Aliyev has signed a decree about the “Establishment of the Baku International Multiculturalism Centre.” President Ilham Aliyev has ordered additional measures to strengthen religious culture, tolerance, and interreligious and intercultural dialogue in Azerbaijan. The state and Haydar Aliyev Foundation also restore religious monuments and build new ones. They are Shamakhi Juma Mosque one of the oldest mosques in the world, as well as in the village of Kish of Shaki region which is the oldest church in the Caucasus have also been restored. According to the statement of the Ilham Aliyev: “Multiculturalism is a lifestyle in Azerbaijan” and as a result of these precious thoughts, this year in Azerbaijan was declared as the year of Multiculturalism.
There have been established all good conditions for free development to the people from different nations, religious, ethnic groups and cultures. The big events such as “The first European Games,” “Formula 1”, “The 42nd FIDE World Chess Olympiad” which organized by Azerbaijani Government is the result of recognition in the world, respect to the society in Azerbaijan. At the same time, the decision on holding the 7th Global Forum of Civilizations Alliance of UN in Baku demonstrates that Azerbaijan’s multiculturalism environment is recognized in the world.
This year we organized survey among foreign students who are studying in Azerbaijan to answer the question “Why you chose exactly Azerbaijan for your education?”. We received about 200 responses, and it is interesting that while analyzing and reading these answers, we understood one of the reasons why students chose Azerbaijan it is because of the multicultural values in Azerbaijan, hospitality and tolerance of the people, the culture of the country, security in society and etc. reasons. They have claimed that they feel as comfortable as in their country and also the creation of this environment, where there are the same attention and care to the people from different nations, cultures, religious, countries and it is derived from the results of respect to the multicultural values in Azerbaijan. We can be sure that when these international students while arriving at their lands, they will be there as cultural ambassadors of Azerbaijan in their motherlands, they can represent and share the information about our model of multiculturalism in society and some countries may assume it as an example for their state policy. It is the real fact that multicultural values and tolerance in our country, which is developing day by day and also state support to this field has increased our tourism opportunities. It is easily visible while walking in the city center. According to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Azerbaijan “in the first six months of 2016, the number of tourists coming to Azerbaijan from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has increased 19 times (10,086 people) compared to the same period of last year (530 people) and those coming from Bahrain has also increased by 13 times (422 people) compared to the same period of last year (32)”. According to Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Azerbaijan ” In the first six months of 2016, a total of 25,000 people traveled to Azerbaijan from Arab countries, which is eight times (22,000 people) increase compared to the same period of last year (3,158 people).” Generally, the growth is observed in all countries tourists coming to Azerbaijan. While multiculturalism is the most important part of our state policy, the attraction of the foreigners to our country will increase, and it means that multiculturalism is possible and also useful.
In conclusion, It is obvious that there is no one the same in the world, everybody is different, religious are different, languages are different, cultures are different. Multiculturalism is the way which leads to the world`s culture, culture is the face of each country, nation and by respecting, tolerating these differences it is possible to create Peace in the world. Unfortunately, the bases of some conflicts, which we have in the world today, are differences of religious and we should respect each religion as ourselves, only in these cases multiculturalism can be useful for everybody. The past year of Multiculturalism in Azerbaijan has proved that today, multicultural values of our country are one of the most important and essential parts of society and Azerbaijan is considered to be an example to the whole world as a model of multiculturalism.
By Nurkhan Babayev
The writer is the Director of International Relations of the Department of Azerbaijan Student Youth Organizations` Union, studying Master of Public Policy in ADA University.