Azerbaijan participates in a series of multilateral cultural projects. Co-operation with the Council of Europe (CoE) is one of the key elements of multilateral engagement. The Ministry started working with the CoE Steering Committee on Culture in 1999 (i.e. before officially joining the Council of Europe in January 2001). Starting in 2000, Azerbaijan took part in the CoE / ERICarts project "Cultural policies in Europe: a compendium of basic facts and trends". The years from 2001 to 2005 were remarkable for Azerbaijan in terms of participation in the Council of Europe "STAGE" Project ("Support for Transition in the Arts in Greater Europe"), aimed at establishing new cultural policies, supporting cultural identity, cultural diversity, creativity and the participation of all groups of society in the cultural life of the South Caucasus. The main achievements of this project were to produce, by a joint team of Azerbaijani and Council of Europe experts, the National Report on Cultural Policy in Azerbaijan (2002) and to hold a National Debate on Cultural Policy (June, 2003, Baku). The country's library, museum and city policies were also observed by European experts and different seminars and training on current importance issues, such as fundraising, management, etc, were organized in the framework of the STAGE Project. |
The Kyiv Initiative (KI) for democratic development through culture (in the South Caucasus countries plus Moldova and Ukraine) was initiated during the 5th (enlarged) Ministerial Colloquy of the countries participating in the STAGE Project in September 2005. In response to this initiative and the recommendations stemming from the STAGE project, the Secretariat of the Council of Europe has, jointly with participating countries, identified the objectives and defined the conditions for their realisation. It implements, in the framework of the KI, multilateral projects such as the "Regional Programme for Cultural and Natural Heritage", "Creating Cultural Capital", "Wine Routes", etc.
The Alexander Dumas Project in the Caucasus, initiated by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Azerbaijan and supported methodically by the Luxemburg European Institute of Cultural Routes, is of particular interest. The project was presented at the meeting of the Advisory Committee on Cultural Routes, in the middle of 2005, and was approved as one of the Cultural Routes Programme projects of the CoE. The first stage of the project, realised with the participation of three countries of the South Caucasus (Azerbaijan, Georgia and the Russian Federation), and supported by France, is dedicated to the organisation of seminars and training for cultural tourism specialists, restorers and students, the creation of a CD and a web-site of the virtual visit of Alexander Dumas in the Caucasus, the translation and publishing of the memoirs of A. Dumas in the languages of the member states of the project, as well as the establishment of the Supporting Fund "Dumas in the Caucasus".
The second stage of the project will involve the launch of the real route of Dumas' travels in the Caucasus, involving tourism agencies in every member state, the organisation of tours to places visited by Dumas, conducting preliminary measures on the preservation of monuments, the production of souvenirs and the issuing of booklets and guides on the tourism route. Restoration, reconstruction and conservation of the cultural monuments along the route in three countries: Azerbaijan, Russia, Georgia and the staging of artistic (documentary / animation) films is expected in the third stage. In accordance with the agreement, a delegation from the Council of Europe and the Luxemburg European Institute of Cultural Routes visited Azerbaijan for expert analysis in August of 2006.
Azerbaijan joined UNESCO in 1992. Since then, special celebrations have been organized at UNESCO headquarters in Paris to mark the 1300th anniversary of the epic Azerbaijani legend Kitab-i Dede Qorqud (1998), the 800th anniversary of the birth of Nasir ad-Din Toosi (2001), the 200th anniversary of the birth of Mirza Kazem-Bey (2002), the 100th anniversary of the birth of academician Yusif Mammadaliyev (2005), and the 100th anniversary of the birth of carpet-maker artist Latif Kerimov (2006). The cultural exhibition and gala-concert "Azerbaijan - a crossroad of civilizations and cultures" was organised in the framework of the jubilee cycle "Dialogue of civilizations" dedicated to the 60th anniversary of UNESCO in the UNESCO headquarters, on19 October 2006.
Azerbaijan has active links with UNESCO's World Heritage Centre, the Cultural Heritage Department and the International Dialogue Department, regularly sends specialists to UNESCO conferences, seminars and symposia held in other countries, and hosts various UNESCO activities at home. In 2000 The Walled City of Baku with Shirvanshakhs Palace and the Maiden Tower and in 2007 Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape were added to the World Heritage List. A number of monuments have been submitted to the Tentative List: Surakhany, Atashgyakh (Fire - worshippers, temple - museum at Surakhany) (1998), The Mausoleum of Nakhinchevan (1998), Hyrkan State Reservation (1998), "Binegadi" 4th Period Fauna and Flora Deposit (1998), "Lok-Batan" Mud Cone (1998), "Baku Stage" Mountain (1998), The Caspian Shore Defensive Constructions (2001), Susha historical and architectural reserve (2001), Ordubad historical and the architectural reserve (2001),and Sheki, the Khan's Palace (2001).
"Azerbaijani Mugam" was proclaimed a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by the Director General of UNESCO in November, 2003. At present, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism is implementing, with the support of UNESCO, the National Action Plan, which has been designed to ensure the safeguarding of the musical tradition of Mugam and to support the preservation and promotion of this cultural expression. On 9 September 2004, the Director-General of UNESCO, Koichiro Matsuura, designated Mrs Mehriban Aliyeva, First Lady of Azerbaijan and President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, as UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Oral and Musical Traditions.
The following National Committees have been established for the realization of Intergovernmental Programs of UNESCO: International Council of Museums (ICOM), International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), International Music Council (IMC), International Institute of Theatre, etc. Azerbaijani representatives regularly take part in conferences, seminars and other events held within the framework of UNESCO.
A series of UNESCO projects and activities in the cultural field have been implemented in Azerbaijan during 2004-2007 years. They are as following:
Azerbaijan is invited to enter into intensified political, security, economic and cultural relations with the EU, regional and cross border co-operation and shared responsibility in conflict prevention and conflict resolution. The EU-Azerbaijan Action Plan enhances cultural co-operation, by investigating the possibilities for co-operation in the framework of EU programmes in the field of culture. It also involves exchanging views on the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions and promoting the ratification and implementation of the text.
The Ministers of Culture of the Turkish-speaking countries (Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkey and Turkmenistan) founded, on an Azerbaijan initiative, TURKSOY, in July 1993. Bashkiria, Gagauzia, Khakasia, Tataristan, Tyva and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus joined as observers. TURKSOY offers guidance and support in the field of culture and the arts, with a view to preserving and enriching the historic and cultural heritage of the Turkish-speaking countries and nations, promoting their intellectual and spiritual values, and protecting human rights and freedoms.
The International conference "East-West Inter-cultural dialogue among the states of GUAM: the creation of a Europe-Caucasus-Asia cultural corridor" took place in Baku on 9-10 June 2003. In May 2005, an International Conference on the Creation of a Europe-Caucasus-Asia Cultural Policy Observatory was held in Baku. Taking into consideration the vast cultural heritage of the GUAM states, Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova have signed the Protocol on Cooperation in the Field of Culture within the Framework of GUAM for 2007-2010.
The Republic of Azerbaijan was nominated as a member of the Consultative Council for the Implementation of the Cultural Strategy for the Islamic World for 2005-2008. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism is rapidly developing collaborative ties with the Islamic Scientific, Educational and Cultural Organization (ISESCO); the Cooperation Protocol between the Ministry and ISESCO was signed during the Fifth Session of the Islamic Conference of Tourism Ministers (September, 2006, Baku).
Chaired by the Minister of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Council on Cultural Cooperation of the Commonwealth Independent States (CIS) supports the Youth Delphic Games, realises different cooperation programmes and projects such as "CUPOLA" and "Legends of the Commonwealth", focusing on safeguarding cultural ties between post-soviet countries.
The Government has initiated procedures to join the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. The main ministries dealing with this issue are the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as the National Commission on UNESCO.