After regaining its independence in 1991, the Republic of Azerbaijan has pursued a policy of cooperation with many important international and regional organisations, like the UN, UNESCO, Council of Europe, European Union, World Tourism Organisation, Organisation of the Islamic Conference, ISESCO, TURKSOY, CIS, GUAM, IKKROM, IRSICA, etc.
The Ministry for Culture drafts and implements bilateral and multilateral foreign cultural policy in coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs because the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the central executive body in Azerbaijan responsible for implementing all international relations and cooperation issues. The Republic regards the development and strengthening of global standard-setting activity as highly important and has acceded to many international conventions.
Active participation in the elected bodies of international organisations is also a priority for the dynamic and extensive cultural interchange with other countries. In this regard, the Republic of Azerbaijan was elected a member of the following structures:
- UNESCO Executive Board (2005-2009);
- Intergovernmental Committee for the Restoration and Promotion of the Return of Illegally Acquired Cultural Property (2011-2015);
- Deputy Chairman of the Committee for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (2011-2015 and 2015-2019);
- World Heritage Committee (2015-2019);
- Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (2018-2022); and
- Intergovernmental Committee of the Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2019-2023).
The country is also interested in hosting major international cultural events, becoming one of the global players and policymakers. For example, the 7th Global Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations (UNAOC), held in Baku, Azerbaijan (25-27 April 2016) under the central theme on “Living Together in Inclusive Societies: A Challenge and A Goal”, is a brilliant example of international and even global cultural activity of the country.
The Ministry for Culture develops bilateral international relations, implements intergovernmental and interdepartmental agreements, programmes, protocols and other documents to promote Azerbaijani culture and arts internationally. A developed legal framework for cooperation in culture with more than 40 countries exists and is planned to be updated and concretised. The diplomatic missions of the Republic of Azerbaijan in more than 70 countries and the embassies of more than 60 foreign countries in the Republic of Azerbaijan are constantly working on expanding cooperation.
Azerbaijan Cultural Centres operate under the diplomatic missions of the Republic of Azerbaijan in Uzbekistan, France, Austria and Germany. Currently, construction work is underway for a new Cultural Centre in Italy. The Ministry for Culture organises the activities of the Cultural Centres, carries out coordination work and promotes national culture through the Centres.
“The State Programme on Education of Azerbaijani Youth Abroad in 2007-2015” (№ 2090 of April 16, 2007 ) provided 5 000 Azerbaijani youth with education in various countries, the most prestigious universities in the USA, Great Britain, Germany, Japan, Turkey, Russian Federation, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and other countries, in various specialities, bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees. All of the expenses of those admitted to the programme during the period of study – airfares, visas, living expenses, and tuition fees – are paid by the state.