By Laman Ismayilova
Azerbaijan and Islamic World Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (ICESCO) have set new prospects of cooperation and mutual support.
Since 1991, Azerbaijan and ICESCO have been enjoying successful partnership in education, culture and science.
These relations have entered into a new stage after the awarding of the First Vice-President of Azerbaijan Mehriban Aliyeva as ICESCO Goodwill on November 24, 2006.
Mehriban Aliyeva was honored for her services in the development of education and dialogue between civilizations.
The country also closely cooperates with various ICESCO organizations, including Islamic Development Bank, Islamic Conference of Parliamentary Union, etc.
Over the past years, Azerbaijan and ICESCO have built strong ties, based on common values.
The visit of the ICESCO delegation to Azerbaijan early in January was an important step in this direction.
ICESCO's visit to liberated territories
Members of a delegation led by ICESCO Director-General Salim bin Mohammed AlMalik have visited Fuzuli region to witness the consequences of Armenian vandalism.
Hundreds of cultural institutions, including 927 libraries with 4.6 million books, 808 palaces of culture, clubs and other cultural institutions, 85 music and art schools were destroyed by Armenian occupants.
The ICESCO delegation first inspected the ruins of Fuzuli and saw traces of Armenian vandalism in the city cemetery.
During the inspection of the destroyed Juma Mosque, it was revealed that Armenians kept cattle and pigs there, as in other mosques.
The ICESCO delegation then visited the ancient caravanserais and the remains of a 17th-century mosque in the village of Gargabazari, as well as the ruins of a destroyed mosque in the village of Gochahmadli.
Speaking at the press conference, ICESCO Director General Salim AlMalik stressed that the destruction of the centuries-old cultural heritage is a crime against humanity.
Meanwhile, ICESCO technical mission will visit Azerbaijan soon. The technical mission will arrive in the liberated areas by the end of February. The team will include member countries as well as non-member states.
Shusha as capital of Islamic world
ICESCO has proposed to declare Shusha as the capital of Islamic world.
The initiative was announced at the press conference between ICESCO Director General Salim AlMalik and the Azerbaijan Culture Minister Anar Karimov.
Moreover, ICESCO’s regional center may open in Shusha.
"Also, one of the issues I wanted to discuss with you, is the issue related to the regional center of ICESCO in Azerbaijan," said President Ilham Aliyev as he received a delegation led by ICESCO Director General.
"You know that this issue was in discussion during the last 3-4 years, and we want to revive the discussions. If there is a positive movement I think we can do it very soon and that will be very important for us and for all the people who contribute to the strengthening of Islamic solidarity and protection of Islamic cultural heritage," the President said.
Joint projects and initiatives
Azerbaijan has implemented numerous international projects with ICESCO. Baku (2009) and Nakhchivan (2018) were named the Capital of Islamic Culture.
Azerbaijan's capital hosted the meeting of ICESCO Culture Ministers in 2009. The 12th General Conference and the 36th meeting of the Executive Board of ICESCO were held as well.
ICESCO is also one of the main partners of the Baku Process initiated by President Ilham Aliyev and adopted by the United Nations. The organization has been an official partner in the 5th World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue held in 2011.
Prospects of cooperation
ICESCO will assist Azerbaijan in the restoration of monuments destroyed as a result of Armenian aggression. Training courses will be organized for specialists in this field.
The Culture Ministry had prepared a special action plan to revive the cultural environment in the liberated areas.
ICESCO Director-General Salim M. AlMalik fully expressed his support for Azerbaijan and the development of a joint action plan for cooperation in this field.
Moreover, Azerbaijan Ministry of Culture and ICESCO have agreed on launching a joint startup project as another area of cooperation in the field of culture.
Furthermore, the Education Ministry and ICESCO have discussed prospects for future cooperation in education.
During the meeting, it was noted that a total of 51 people have gained the right to study in higher education institutions of the country within the educational grant established for the citizens of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) states by the relevant decree of the President Ilham Aliyev.
The Minister also informed the guests that 10 students were killed, 16 were injured and 54 educational institutions were destroyed as a result of Armenian attacks.
Azerbaijan and ICESCO are united by common goals aimed at developing such areas as education, science culture, communications and high technologies.
The partnership with ICESCO has contributed to providing a space for discussion and exchange of ideas.
Further cooperation between the sides is expected to bring more positive changes in the society.
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