Mr. Ilham Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan, received Dr. Salim M. AlMalik, Director-General (DG) of the Islamic World Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (ICESCO), and his accompanying delegation of Heads of ICESCO Sectors. The reception took place today, Wednesday, January 13, at the Presidential Palace in Baku, in the presence of Mr. Anar Karimov, Minister of Culture, President of the Azerbaijani National Commission for Education, Science and Culture.
At the outset, President Aliyev welcomed the DG, expressing his appreciation for the visit and the tours Dr. AlMalik and his delegation made yesterday to the historic and cultural sites in the Districts of Fuzuli and Aghdam bordering the Nagorno-Karabakh Province to take ocular verification of the extent of damage that affected the region.
The Azerbaijani President also reaffirmed his country’s appreciation of ICESCO’s sustained support and its clear stance on the importance of considering cultural and historical rights. He also commended the importance the Organization accords to safeguarding and inscribing heritage, stressing that Azerbaijan will always support ICESCO in the implementation of its vision and action strategy.
President Aliyev reaffirmed Azerbaijan’s intent on rebuilding all historic sites in Nagorno-Karabakh, hailing ICESCO’s announcement to provide assistance and technical support to the major project. The President also suggested opening a regional office for ICESCO in Baku soon.
The DG expressed his thanks to the President for inviting him and ICESCO’s delegation to make the official visit. He highlighted ICESCO’s support for all its Member States to safeguard their cultural and civilizational heritage and reviewed ICESCO’s efforts in the field.
The DG also welcomed the proposal to open a regional office for ICESCO in the Azerbaijani capital, Baku, and suggested relocating the office to the city of Shusha in Nagorno-Karabakh once it is rebuilt. President Aliyev welcomed and commended the proposal, he also noted that he proclaimed Shusha as Azerbaijan’s Capital of National Culture.
Dr. AlMalik also stressed building institutional relations between ICESCO and Azerbaijan. The Organization will specifically send a technical team including international experts to examine the heritage sites in Nagorno-Karabakh and assess the extent of the damage. The technical team will also work closely with the Azerbaijani side to lay down a plan for restoring or rebuilding the sites.
The meeting also addressed the special cooperation and partnership ties between ICESCO and Azerbaijan in civilizational dialogue and other fields. Mr. Aliyev then mentioned Baku Forum, which became a key platform for dialogue between Europe and the Islamic world. The DG stated that ICESCO is in the process of creating ICESCO Center for Civilizational Dialogue, which will provide ample opportunity for cooperation with the Baku Forum.