Quotations: Ilham Aliyev

Azerbaijan has become one of the centers of multiculturalism in the world, and this honorary status is already recognized by the world community. It is no coincidence that by my Order we declared 2016 a Year of Multiculturalism in Azerbaijan. I believe that such an initiative was the first of its kind in the world. This demonstrates our intentions. Having declared 2016 a Year of Multiculturalism, we, first of all, wanted to introduce Azerbaijan to the world the way it is. We wanted to show that multiculturalism in Azerbaijan is both a state policy and a way of life. At the same time, we tried to attract the attention of the world community to this issue.

From the speech at the official opening ceremony of the 6th International Humanitarian Forum

Representatives of various religions and nations lived in Azerbaijan like one family in the conditions of peace, friendship and tranquility for centuries, and this policy continues today. Our state policy in this direction is very effective and leads to excellent results. Our historical past and culture show that representatives of various religions have always lived peacefully like one family in Azerbaijan. Our historical and religious monuments speak volumes about our ancient history and show that Azerbaijan was a native land and a native place for representatives of various religions.

From the speech at the official opening ceremony of the 6th International Humanitarian Forum

Our country has hosted numerous representative international events on interreligious and intercultural dialogue. Among them, I can mention the 7th Global Forum of the UN Alliance of Civilizations. The Forum on Intercultural Dialogue and the Baku Humanitarian Forum, which have been held several times and have already become traditional, also dedicate their work primarily to the interreligious and intercultural dialogue. The fact that such international events are held in our country is only natural. First of all, Azerbaijan has always played a positive role among civilizations, is a bridge between Asia and Europe from geographical and cultural standpoints, and also from a political point of view now.

From the speech at the "2017- Year of Islamic Solidarity: Interfaith and Intercultural Dialogue" international conference held in Baku

I believe that the alternatives to multiculturalism are xenophobia, discrimination, racism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. These are extremely dangerous trends. We have repeatedly seen in history what terrible implications the strengthening of these trends can have. Therefore, all progressive mankind should unite around the ideas and ideals of multiculturalism. We must demonstrate an unequivocal position here. We, in turn, by showing our activities and efforts to the world and the atmosphere existing in our country, demonstrate that this is possible. Multiculturalism has many addresses in the world, and Azerbaijan is one of them. We will continue trying to strengthen these positive trends, both in the international arena, and in the country and region.

From the speech at the official opening ceremony of the 5th Baku International Humanitarian Forum in Baku

Azerbaijan is known worldwide as a country of national, religious and ethnic tolerance and brotherhood. This is already a reality, especially in the present circumstances, when there are stand-offs in various parts of the world. There are wars on religious and ethnic grounds. Azerbaijan is showing an example in this area as well.

From the speech at the opening of Yalama Agropark

Civic accord would be impossible without inter-ethnic and inter-religious unity, especially in multi-ethnic and multi-confessional countries. We are proud to be a multi-ethnic country. We are proud of the fact that representatives of all religions and ethnicities live in Azerbaijan peacefully. They are proud to be citizens of Azerbaijan.

From the speech at the Iftar ceremony on the occasion of holy month of Ramadan

Azerbaijan is a model country in terms of multiculturalism, religious and national tolerance in the world. 

From the speech at the official reception on the occasion of the Republic Day

Azerbaijan has been a place where religions, cultures and civilizations met for centuries. We are not only a geographic bridge between East and West, but also a cultural bridge.

From the speech at the opening of the 7th UNAOC Global Forum

Azerbaijan adheres to the most civilized norms of ethnic and religious coexistence. The environment of tolerance and relations between the state and religion in the country serve as a model in the world.

From the interview to the Radio and Television Broadcasting of the Islamic Republic of Iran

There is no alternative to multiculturalism. The alternative is discrimination, Islamophobia and xenophobia. This path can’t lead to the future. Therefore, our policies and initiatives seek to strengthen inter-religious relations in the region.

From the speech at the opening of the 12th session of the ISESCO General Conference

More than 600 historical and architectural monuments of Azerbaijan were totally destroyed by the Armenian armed forces. Twenty two museums were destroyed, and 40,000 items, which were exhibited in those museums including the very precious items of our historical heritage, were stolen from our museums and then sold on different auctions. Ten mosques were razed to the ground by Armenian occupants, while today you can see an Armenian Church restored by the government of Azerbaijan in the center of Baku. So this is the difference in approach to multiculturalism. This is the difference in approach to religious tolerance and this again shows that terrorism has no religion, has no nationality.

From the speech at the UNESCO Leaders’ Forum of the 38th Session of the General Conference

We are proud that UNESCO is an official partner of the three forums which we held on intercultural dialogue and unique role which Azerbaijan plays as a country situated between East and West, a country with a predominantly Muslim population, but with secular society and secular government, which is a member of the Council of Europe and the Islamic Cooperation Organization. And we are trying to use this great opportunity to bring peoples and civilizations much closer.

From the speech at the UNESCO Leaders’ Forum of the 38th Session of the General Conference

Multiculturalism is a state policy in Azerbaijan and, at the same time, a public order. For us it is a normal way of life.

From the speech at the general meeting marking the 70th anniversary of ANAS

Many international organizations, politicians, political scientists and scholars hold up the inter-religious and inter-ethnic relations in Azerbaijan as an example. It is really the case. Azerbaijan is a multi-ethnic and multi-confessional state. This is our greatest asset. Representatives of all nationalities living in Azerbaijan are valuable citizens enjoying equal rights. Azerbaijan has never had confrontations on religious and ethnic grounds, and we are committed to this policy.

From the speech at the opening of the Heydar Aliyev Center in Zagatala

Azerbaijan is a land of multiculturalism. Azerbaijan has never had and never will have discrimination on religious or ethnic grounds.

From the speech at the first meeting of the Organizing Committee of the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games

Azerbaijan is situated on the crossroads of civilizations, cultures, and religions. We are situated just between Europe and Asia. Of course, this geographical location played its role in cultural diversity of Azerbaijan. For centuries, representatives of all the cultures, religions, ethnicities have lived in Azerbaijan as one family in peace and dignity. And we are very proud that these positive tendencies have become even stronger during the years of independence. It is enough to look at our historical monuments to see the cultural diversity of Azerbaijan.

From the speech at the opening ceremony of the 3rd World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue

Azerbaijan is a country where many religions co-exist: Zoroastrianism, Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. There is a unique atmosphere of brotherhood and inter-religious cooperation among peoples in our country.

From the interview to “Russia-24” TV channel

The idea of Azerbaijanism is our main ideological backbone. Our statehood has strong political supports. The independent Azerbaijan is a country openly speaking its word on a global scale and conducting an independent policy. The domestic policy is complemented by foreign policy, and our political supports are solid enough.

From the speech at the Iftar ceremony on the occasion of the holy month of Ramadan

Multiculturalism is one of the basic elements of success in our society. We are multinational, multireligious country and this is one of the biggest assets of Azerbaijan that all the citizens of our country regardless of their religion or ethnic origin enjoy the same rights and privileges. We live like one family; representatives of different religions celebrate holidays together. This is really a unique experience, which is highly appreciated globally. 

From the speech at the Annual Session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly held in Baku

Independence, Azerbaijanism, modernity, patriotism and national and religious tolerance – these are our main ideological foundations.

From the speech in nationwide festivities on the occasion of Novruz Bayram

Today, there is a multiethnic and multi-religious society in Azerbaijan. This is our great treasure and valuable asset. We are cherishing and will continue to cherish this treasure. 

From the speech at the opening of the Third Baku International Humanitarian Forum

Multiculturalism has a very positive experience, positive signs and addresses in the world. Azerbaijan is one of them. On the example of Azerbaijan we can see how these relations can be regulated.

From the speech at the Iftar ceremony on the occasion of holy month of Ramadan

Multiculturalism is a relatively new concept. But we have lived in an atmosphere of multiculturalism in Azerbaijan for centuries. 

From the speech at the opening of the International Humanitarian Forum under slogan “21st century: hopes and challenges”

Azerbaijan continues to play its role in an intercultural dialogue. For centuries our country has been a place where people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds have lived side by side in the atmosphere of goodwill. We are very pleased that after the acquisition of independence these positive tendencies have been compounded. The Azerbaijani society is multicultural and multi-ethnic. The representatives of various nationalities and religions live in an atmosphere of friendship.

Speech at the opening of the Crans Montana Forum

The power of every society is in its religious and ethnic diversity. We are totally sure that regardless of the ethnic and religious factor, it is possible to establish normal relations in any society. Of course, there is a need for traditions to this end, and at the same time, the state policy should be carried out at the appropriate level. Both factors exist in Azerbaijan.

From the speech at the opening ceremony of the World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue

For hundreds of years the representatives of different nationalities and religions have been living in Azerbaijan in the atmosphere of friendship and brotherhood as one family. Religious and national tolerance in Azerbaijan has a vast and famous history.

From the speech at the opening ceremony of Baku Summit of Religious Leaders

Our country has a great history, traditions and culture. Azerbaijan is located on the crossroads of the East and West and, of course, this location has played a role in our life, in our past. At the same time, Azerbaijan is a secular country. There is a high level of religious tolerance here. We are a multi-ethnic country. Representatives of different nationalities live like one family in Azerbaijan.

From the speech at a meeting with participants of the international conference “2010 parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan: more democratic, more transparent”

The Azerbaijani state has never conducted and will never conduct the policy of ethnic cleansing against anyone. If the Armenian side accepts the proposals reflecting international legal norms, then the Azerbaijani community must and will live in Upper Karabakh together with the Armenian one. The presence of the Azerbaijani community there will, on the one hand, restore historical justice and, on the other, fully correspond to the norms of international law.

From the speech at a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers

Azerbaijan played its role in the development of interreligious relations for centuries. Irrespective of the government type religious and national tolerance and acceptance always were at a very high level in Azerbaijan. These are the feelings of the people of Azerbaijan, as well as the policy of the independent state of Azerbaijan and the practical result of work of religious structures operating in Azerbaijan.

From speech at the conference "Interreligious dialogue: from mutual understanding to co-operation"

The representatives of all nationalities, religions live in Azerbaijan as one family. There has never been and will never be any discrimination on national or religious grounds in Azerbaijan. All people living in Azerbaijan are our dear citizens. I am sure that religious tolerance and acceptance dominating in Azerbaijan can be studied in other places.

From speech at the Teze Pir Mosque Complex after reconstruction

Islam is the religion of brotherhood, tolerance and patience. Our sacred religion should be presented to the world the way it is. The steps taken to properly present the Islamic world should also concern the sphere of culture since the Islamic world possesses the richest history and culture. Our culture should be presented to the world community as it is.

Speech at the ceremony of formal opening of the year of culture "Baku as the capital of Islamic culture-2009"

Our goal is to finally settle all the conflicts in the Caucasus region, restoration of peace, thus, to afford an opportunity for collaboration in the region. This is very important for every country. The unsettled Armenian-Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remains the major threat in our region. For many years, our lands have been under the occupation. As a result of the Armenian policy of ethnic cleansing and aggressive separatism against Azerbaijan, 20 per cent of our lands have been occupied. 1 million of Azerbaijanis affected by this occupation had to leave their homes. The territorial integrity of Azerbaijan is damaged. It is clear for us that the norms of international law shall be fully approved, the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan shall be reinstated, and the occupied lands shall be released from the occupation forces as soon as possible.

From the speech at the opening of the Conference of Ministers of Culture of the European Council member states

We are very glad that in Azerbaijan representatives of all nationalities, all religions live as one family contributing to the development of the Motherland. This is our big advantage, the main asset. Azerbaijan is a multinational, multidenominational country. Our experience and I speak with all assurance, is already studied in other countries, is becoming the theme of discussions in international organizations, and in the future the role of Azerbaijan as the place of tolerance in the world affairs and in the processes occurring in the world will certainly increase.

From the speech at the Bibiheybat Shrine Complex after reconstruction

People in Azerbaijan treat Russian culture and language with particular respect. Azerbaijan is home to the biggest Russian community in the South Caucasus. We view this as a factor of historical development of the situation in the region.

From the speech at the official reception in honor of the President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev

Azerbaijan is a multinational country. We are proud of it, we show and shall continue to show care for all national minorities living in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is the country where all religious communities can operate freely. At the same time, the religion is separated from the state; Azerbaijan is a secular state, which is a very important issue for us. We treat all religions with great respect; Azerbaıjan has conditions for the activity of all religious communities. I am sure that there will be no problems on national and religious ground in Azerbaijan. All national minorities are our brothers. Representatives of all religions in Azerbaijan are our brothers, and this brotherhood will continue. Azerbaijan is the country of friendship and brotherhood.

From the speech at the opening ceremony of St. Mary's Church

Ethnic diversity, cultural diversity enriches us. Brotherhood among nations prevails in Azerbaijan in the full sense of the word. This is our happiness, our wealth and our policy.

From the speech in the meeting with residents of the Gusar region

Historically and presently Azerbaijani society has been characterized by ethnic and religious tolerance. Religious and ethnic tolerance is one of the greatest achievements of modern Azerbaijan. The international community also recognizes and welcomes this fact.

From the speech at the Columbia University

“Our country is notable for its tolerance in all fields – both in the field of religion and ethnicity. I do not remember that there was any conflict on religious grounds in the history of Azerbaijan. Christians, Muslims, Jews - all of them live in peace and harmony in our country.

From the interview to “Euronews” TV Channel