On May 30, Irina Bokova met with H.E. Mr Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, in Baku, Azerbaijan.
The Director-General thanked the President for his leadership in fostering new forms of dialogue between cultures, as taken forward also in the World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue, currently being held in Baku.
She highlighted the importance of Azerbaijan's role in supporting UNESCO's objectives, including in promoting quality education for all and in safeguarding the shared cultural heritage of humanity. She pointed to the forthcoming session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, to be held in Baku in December, 2013 as an example of Azerbaijan's commitment to protecting intangible cultural heritage and supporting UNESCO's actions in this area.
President Aliyev welcomed the Director-General to Azerbaijan, and underlined his strong support to the work of the Organisation. He highlighted the vital need to build dialogue between cultures at a time of rising uncertainty, pointing to the importance of UNESCO and calling for greater practical cooperation in this respect.
The President highlighted Azerbaijan's path for sustainable development and noted the need for greater focus on human capital, on better quality education, on training and the development of skills. He underlined here the great prospect for deeper UNESCO support in this respect.
The Director-General thanked the President for the support of the Government of Azerbaijan to the priorities of UNESCO and looked forward to deepening this cooperation even further, namely in the field of technical and vocational education but also across all UNESCO areas of competence.
The Director-General met also with the Mr Elmar Mammadyarov, Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan. They discussed the fragility of many societies today across the world, experiencing the rise of intolerance and extremism. In this respect, they underlined the importance of policies for youth engagement and for social inclusion, in order to build healthier societies at a time of rapid change.
In the context of the visit, the Director-General signed with Mr Abulfas Garayev, Minister of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan, the Host Country Agreement concerning the 8th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, which will be held in Baku in December 2013 and which will be an important moment to deepen international cooperation for protecting the rich diversity of humanity's intangible cultural heritage.
'This testifies to the strong committment of the Government of Azerbaijan to the priorities guiding UNESCO's work,' said Irina Bokova.