By Nigar Orujova
The Baku Conference - First Platform Exchange on Culture and Digitization "Creating an enabling environment for digital culture and for empowering citizens" has ended in Azerbaijan's capital.
The event was coorganized by Azerbaijan as the president of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and the Culture and Democracy Section of the Second Directorate General of the Council of Europe.
The Baku Conference involved over 100 participants including representatives of parties to the European Cultural Convention, cultural and media practitioners, artists, cultural producers, civil society representatives, researchers whose works are focused on the cultural aspects of digitization, representatives of International bodies and organizations active in this field.
The conference featured interesting discussions on respective missions, mind-sets, legislation, the professional roles of those working in these institutions, the resources necessary for moving from the pre-digital to the digital era, the governance of certain institutions and sectors active in open data and content field.
Azerbaijan's Culture and Tourism Minister Abulfaz Garayev said Azerbaijan has become a major player in international activities within the Council of Europe.
Garayev said the idea of holding a conference of ministers of culture in Azerbaijan was raised in 2008, where the ministers of neighboring states were invited. A large committee was set up after the meeting, which evolved gradually into an international forum on intercultural dialogue.
The main topic is that culture cannot be controlled by someone or by individual governments,
"Internet has certainly a great impact on a large number of people. We are proud that we have a completely free state. As a result of this freedom, we can freely use the Internet," Garayev said.
The ministry has developed a system called GoMap, which is used daily by 12,000 people searching for historical monuments and addresses, he added.
"At the same time, a portal of library network was created in Azerbaijan and the development of other 26 portals has already begun," Garayev said.
The employment of the highly educated people in culture and tourism section is considered an important step in the right direction, he said, adding that the use of modern technologies can yield positive results.
The event also discussed other topics including the roles of creative actors, the convergence of art forms and the role of cities and regions in view of the socio-economic impact of their digitized cultural activity.
The issues of media literacy and use of digital technology for cultural purposes - related to questions of societal inclusion and cohesion- were also discussed during the conference.
Speaking on the last day of the conference, Azerbaijani Deputy Minister of Culture and Tourism Sevda Mammadaliyeva noted the importance of the Baku Conference and said the two-day meeting approved once again the importance of learning and using digital technologies in cultural development.
Other speakers, included Vice-Chair of the Steering Committee for Culture, Heritage and Landscape (CDCPP) of the Council of Europe Kimmo Aulake, and Director of Democratic Governance and Cultural Diversity at the Council of Europe Claudia Luciani praised the conference as fruitful, saying it would contribute strengthening cooperation.