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Baku hosting Council of Europe meeting

1 September 2014 14:26 (UTC+04:00)
Baku hosting Council of Europe meeting

By Amina Nazarli

Azerbaijan's capital is hosting an international event on religious tolerance. 2014 Council of Europe Exchange kicked off in Baku on September 1.

Azerbaijan's presidential Adviser on Multinational, Multicultural and Religious Affairs, Kamal Abdulla first read out the message of greeting of President Ilham Aliyev to the participants.

Addressing the event, the Chairman of the State Committee for work with Religious Organizations, Mubariz Gurbanli said the meeting would contribute to the expansion of cooperation among all religions and cultures in the world.

The chairman noted that in Azerbaijan various religious and ethnic groups are living in friendship.

"Azerbaijan has become a major driving force in the world by active participation in the intercultural dialogue. Mosques, synagogues and churches are operating in tolerance in Azerbaijan," he stressed.

He further said the occupation policy of Armenia is indeed not only an attack of one European country to another, but a serious threat to global peace and security.

Addressing the meeting, the Chairman of the Caucasian Muslims Office, Allahshukur Pashazade also spoke about Armenia's aggressive policy towards Azerbaijan.

He said that Azerbaijan is trying to settle the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict within the territorial integrity and through dialogue.

He further expressed hope that this conference will play an important role in the development of intercultural dialogue in the world.

Pashazade said that the government strongly supports and encourages an atmosphere of tolerance in the country and every citizen feels the attention of the State in this matter.

Religious strife and intolerance has begun to rise and exert pressure on religious minorities across Europe.

The Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe (CoE), Gabriella Battani-Dragoni made the remark at the event.

A very tense situation emerging in this field threatens stability and democracy in Europe, she said.

The international community is increasingly considering the role of religion in democratic governance of cultural diversity, Battani-Dragoni further said.

She said that in this regard, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe produced a document entitled "White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue" in 2008. The document emphasizes the need to start a dialogue between religious communities and secular organizations in the countries participating in the Council of Europe.

Religious communities play an important role in this dialogue Battani-Dragoni noted.

"The state should also create conditions for dialogue," she said. "There should be a dialogue between the religious communities."

Battani-Dragoni stressed, "Government should play an important role in inter-religious dialogue, encourage religious communities and non-religious organizations to engage in dialogue."

Azerbaijan during its presidency of the Council of Europe gives a great support to the "No hate speech" project, and in this regard a major international youth event will be organized, the official noted.

The two-day event will hear reports and speeches on three sub-themes: "Tolerance of religion and non-religious convictions in culturally diverse societies: a social capital", "Contribution of religions and non-religious convictions to combating all forms of discrimination, intolerance and violence", and "The contribution of cultural heritage of a religious nature to intercultural dialogue and to the respect of the universal values defended by the Council of Europe".

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