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Cultural heritage protection discussed in Baku

26 February 2013 20:26 (UTC+04:00)
Cultural heritage protection discussed in Baku

By Nigar Orujova

Baku hosted a conference on the development of Azerbaijani cultural heritage last week.

The event participants assessed "Azerbaijan 2020: Vision of the Future" Development Concept approved by the Azerbaijani President, saying that the concept outlined cultural heritage development as one of the country`s strategic priorities.

Addressing the conference, Culture and Tourism Minister Abulfas Garayev said it is time to show the international community Azerbaijan's activities on the protection of cultural heritage.

The minister said that the list of the country's cultural heritage samples includes about 7,000 units against 6,308 sites from the old list.

"We need to do serious work on the protection of cultural heritage, and prove the antiquity of our culture to the world. Following the president's task, we must also conduct extensive propaganda of our cultural heritage, which will give an impetus to the development of the tourism industry," Garayev said.

According to the minister, the country intends to increase cultural heritage protection to a level that would allow the international community to benefit from Azerbaijan's experience in this sphere.

"We've already started relevant works, and among them is inclusion of Icherisheher (Old City) in the cultural heritage list," he said. "Another piece of good news is that now European experts are evaluating Azerbaijan's historical and cultural monument Gobustan in the category of the best museum of Europe, and the contest results will be announced in May. I want to note that according to the submitted reviews, Gobustan is at the forefront, and we look forward to its approval as the best museum in Europe."

In 2012, European experts included Gobustan in the list of Europe's best museums. According to the contest terms, the results will be officially announced on May 19.

Garayev added that given the number of cultural heritage sites, as well as the extensive workload in this area, it should be taken into account that this work is not meant only for one ministry or the National Academy of Sciences, but "this is a job for the public and the entire state".

Garayev also stressed the need for adopting a state program for the protection of Azerbaijani cultural heritage.

"This state program will give an impetus to the development of domestic tourism. We can better communicate our cultural heritage to tourists through it," Garayev noted.

He went on to say that cultural heritage must be not only protected, but also re-analysed.

"We must enlighten our people and the many visitors who come to Azerbaijan on this heritage. Cultural heritage can make a major contribution to the development of tourism," he said.

In turn, head of humanitarian policy at the Azerbaijani Presidential Administration, Fatma Abdullazade, said that the post-modern thinking of the youth should be taken into consideration during the Concept development.

According to Abdullazade, the concept development work should also involve high schools, research facilities, public and private organizations, and be focused primarily on "understanding by young people whose thinking is now post-modern".

"Precisely that is why the importance of thinking of today's youth should be noted and first of all virtual museums, virtual visits and virtual documents be created, and only this way we will be able to convey our cultural heritage to the young people and foreigners," Abdullazade said.

She also noted that the Azerbaijani cultural heritage is practically forgotten, as a lot of the cultural heritage samples, such as those of Baku and Ganja city folklore, have not been studied.

Abdullazade said world museums reflect upon many facts on Azerbaijani history. "We do not even know the location of some manuscripts which have information about the history and culture of the country."

The concept could not be enlarged without extensive studies in the fields of Azerbaijani archaeology, history, architecture, and language studies, Abdullazade believes.

According to her, by means of innovative technologies, extensive internet resources and virtual museums on Azerbaijani cultural heritage should be created. Such museums will help inform the country's youth, as well as other countries, on Azerbaijani cultural heritage.

Moreover, this work should be done with high professionalism and creativity, while a formal approach should be avoided, Abdullazade stressed.

Addressing the event, Deputy Minister for Economic Development Sevinj Hasanova noted that the ministry has received more than 300 proposals on the implementation of the Concept from both government and non-state agencies.

"Adoption of five state programs in the field of culture is expected within the framework of the concept. The ministry is completing work on systematization and initial evaluation of all proposals for their submission to the Azerbaijani Presidential Administration," Hasanova said.

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