The example of Azerbaijan and its multicultural tradition and heritage is the only way that ensures economic growth, religious coexistence, peace and stability over the world-US expert
The reporter of Eurasia Diary interviewed Peter Tase, political analyst and expert on international relations at Marquette University.
Eurasia Diary: What is your opinion regarding multiculturalism and religious tolerance in Azerbaijan?
Peter Tase: While visiting the region of Oghuz, region of Ismailli and the Autonomous Republic of Nakhchivan, it is evident that the Republic of Azerbaijan is a unique country where multiculturalism, interreligious dialogue, multifaceted tolerance, peaceful coexistence among religions and very effective government administration are the principal elements of the social fabric in this nation. On May 9-12, 2017, under the leadership of Academician Prof. Dr. Kamal Abdullayev (Chairman of the Board of Baku International Multiculturalism Centre), the most important writer and philologist in contemporary Azerbaijan and professor Klaus Wolf from Augsburg University in Germany organized an international conference dedicated to Azerbaijani multiculturalism in Augsburg University, Germany. On this occasion, I was honored to join a group of international friends of Azerbaijan and distinguished scholars to commemorate the birthday anniversary of Azerbaijan’s National Leader, Heydar Aliyev; and to discuss the admirable values of multiculturalism among the people of Azerbaijan.
This conference was made possible thanks to the leadership and support of the President of Azerbaijan, H. E. Mr. Ilham Aliyev. Moreover, we had the opportunity to visit one of the largest synagogues in Germany and in Europe, that was built in 1914-1917, a magnificent religious monument that had survived World War II and was not destroyed by the Government of Adolf Hitler. The treasures of multiculturalism in Azerbaijan are an example that should be followed by other nations of the world. We are conscious that building artificial walls, setting up barriers to the free flow of goods and human capital; mishandling of more than two million migrants and refugees that have crossed into Europe during the last two years will further escalate the division of visions, ideas and policies that are currently taking place in the European Union over the administration and the implementation of migration, asylum procedure and in the strategy of border security. The example of Azerbaijan and its multicultural tradition and heritage is the only way that ensures economic growth, religious coexistence and peace and stability over the world.
Eurasia Diary: How can you estimate the role of the Republic of Azerbaijan in the intercultural and inter-religious dialogue?
Peter Tase: The Republic of Azerbaijan has advocated for a more effective dialogue among religions and ethnic groups at the global stage including its effective participation and vital support to many forums, international organizations and multilateral discussions. The restoration of cultural monuments such as the Gülüstan Monument in Julfa Region of Nakhchivan, the maintenance project of the Momine Khatun Mausoleum and of Noah’s mausoleum, are remarkable accomplishments of the government of Azerbaijan and of the government of Autonomous Republic of Nakhchivan. Moreover, the restoration initiatives that are taking place in the villages of Lahij located in the region of Ismailli and Nij, a town located about forty kilometers to the south-west of Qabala. Regions are a true testimony of the impressive priority that the government of Azerbaijan has allocated towards the preservation of multicultural values, treasures and monuments that are inherited, for many centuries, in the sovereign territory of Azerbaijan.
Eurasia Diary: How can you assess relations between the Republic of Azerbaijan and UNESCO in cultural, educational and scientific fields?
Peter Tase: UNESCO will have a new Director General by the end of November 2017. Currently there are nine candidates from different countries that aspire to lead UNESCO during the next four years. Among them is the official candidate, nominated by the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ambassador Polad Bülbüloglu. As the next Director General of UNESCO, I strongly believe that Ambassador Bülbüloglu will further work to stop violent extremism, promote interfaith dialogue and mutual understanding. Above all, Ambassador Bülbüloglu will be an instrumental force towards the protection of cultural heritage and strengthen education policies in the Landlocked Developing Countries. These areas are key factors towards the implementation of sustainable development goals.
Moreover, UNESCO’s incumbent leadership must undertake a visit to the Autonomous Republic of Nakhchivan, to visit over a dozen historical sites that deserve to be included in the World Heritage List. I am confident that Ambassador Bülbüloglu will have a genuine propensity towards the preservation of multiculturalism across many nations and will strive to preserve peace, increase the levels of education and literacy.
Eurasia Diary: How do you think, is secularism in Azerbaijan a suitable model to some Muslim countries?
Peter Tase: There is no doubt that the Azerbaijani culture, inter-religious dialogue, the model of education policy and the economic development, is an effective example that ought to be followed by other countries in the region and beyond. Almost twenty percent of the sovereign territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan has been under the occupation of Armenian Armed Forces for over twenty-three years. Let’s keep in mind that Armenian Armed Forces have inflicted so much damage, pain and destruction to the nation of Azerbaijan, that consisted in the destruction of over 1,500 cultural, religious and archeological monuments that were discovered within the sovereign territory of Azerbaijan including Nagorno-Karabakh region and its seven adjacent districts, and have orchestrated an ethnic cleansing campaign against the civilian population of Azerbaijan. Despite of this unlimited suffering, caused by the Armenian Government, the government of Azerbaijan and its people has shown a great courage. The administration of President Ilham Aliyev has been continuously united and has handled every crisis with a great sense of patriotism and effective leadership.
Eurasia Diary: Twenty percent of the sovereign territory of Azerbaijan has been under the Armenian occupation for 23 years. The cultural and religious heritage of Azerbaijani people has been subjected to annihilation by the Armenian forces in the occupied territories. What can you say about Armenian aggression?
Peter Tase: The brutal Armenian aggression, in the sovereign territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan, must be immediately stopped and the government of Serzh Sargsyan must be held accountable for the endless crimes that it has committed against the innocent Azerbaijani civilians and for intentionally burning to the ground many remarkable cultural, historical and religious monuments that were a valuable asset to the world’s history. Armenia’s crimes against humanity and its campaigns of destruction against world cultural sites in the Republic of Azerbaijan during the last quarter of a century, must be condemned by the World community.
Armenia must refrain from its territorial claims against the Autonomous Republic of Nakhchivan, must immediately withdraw its troops from every inch of the sovereign territory of Azerbaijan. Additionally, Yerevan should stop its economic blockade that has been imposed against the Autonomous Republic of Nakhchivan for over two decades. For as long as Yerevan continues to maintain a belligerent attitude, the Southern Caucasus will continue to suffer from the lack of regional peace and stability.