The Republic of Azerbaijan participates in a series of multilateral cultural projects. Co-operation with the Council of Europe (CoE) is one of the key elements of multilateral engagement. The Ministry started working with the CoE Steering Committee on Culture in 1999 (i.e. before officially joining the Council of Europe in 25 January, 2001), taking part in the CoE / ERICarts project “Compendium of Cultural Policies and Trends in Europe”. The years from 2001 to 2005 were remarkable for Azerbaijan in terms of participation in the Council of Europe “STAGE” Project (“Support for Transition in the Arts in Greater Europe”), aimed at establishing new cultural policies, supporting cultural identity, cultural diversity, creativity and the participation of all groups of society in the cultural life of the South Caucasus. The main achievements of this project were to produce, by a joint team of Azerbaijani and Council of Europe experts, the National Report on Cultural Policy in Azerbaijan (2002) and to hold a National Debate on Cultural Policy (June, 2003, Baku). The country’s library, museum and city policies were also observed by European experts and different seminars and training on current importance issues, such as fundraising, management, etc, were organised in the framework of the STAGE Project.
The Kyiv Initiative Regional Programme (KI) for the South Caucasus countries plus Moldova and Ukraine was initiated during the 5th (enlarged) Ministerial Colloquy of the countries participating in the STAGE Project in September 2005, Kyiv. It started implementing, in the framework of the KI, multilateral projects such as Heritage Management, Wine Culture Tourism Exchange (WCTE), Alexander Dumas Route / Cultural Routes, Cross-Border Cinema Culture (CBCC), Cultural Policy and Exchanges.
Azerbaijan joined UNESCO in 1992. Since then, special celebrations have been organised at UNESCO headquarters in Paris to mark the 1300th anniversary of the epic Azerbaijani legend Kitab-i Dede Qorqud (1998), the 800th anniversary of the birth of Nasir ad-Din Toosi (2001), the 200th anniversary of the birth of Mirza Kazem-Bey (2002), the 100th anniversary of the birth of academician Yusif Mammadaliyev (2005), the 100th anniversary of the birth of carpet-maker artist Latif Kerimov (2006), the100th anniversary of the first opera in the East: “Leyli and Majnun” (2008), the 100th anniversary of Musa Aliyev, geologist (2008), the 100th anniversary of the birth of Mir Jalal Pashayev, writer (2008), and the 100th anniversary of Sattar Bahlulzadeh, painter, etc.
The National Commission of the Republic of Azerbaijan for UNESCO chaired now by the Minister of Foreign Affairs was created in 21 February 1994. National Committees have been established for the following Intergovernmental Programmes of UNESCO: International Council of Museums (ICOM), International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), International Music Council (IMC), International Institute of Theatre, etc.
The Republic of Azerbaijan has been selected as a Member of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage and the Eighth session of the Intergovernmental Committee was held in Baku, Azerbaijan, on 2-7 December 2013. Celebration activities marking the 10th anniversary of the Convention were carried out during this session.
The Ministry of Culture and Tourism is rapidly developing collaborative ties with the Islamic Scientific, Educational and Cultural Organisation (ISESCO); the Cooperation Protocol between the Ministry and ISESCO was signed during the Fifth Session of the Islamic Conference of Tourism Ministers (September, 2006, Baku). The Republic of Azerbaijan was nominated as a member of the Consultative Council for the Implementation of the Cultural Strategy for the Islamic World for 2005-2008. The National Commission of the Republic of Azerbaijan for Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) chaired by Minister of Culture and Tourism was established in January 2016.
Azerbaijan has been invited to enter into intensified political, security, economic and cultural relations with the EU, regional and cross border co-operation and shared responsibility in conflict prevention and conflict resolution. The EU-Azerbaijan Action Plan enhances cultural co-operation, byinvestigating the possibilities for co-operation in the framework of EU programmes in the field of culture. It also involves exchanging views on the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions and promoting the ratification and implementation of the text. Besides these developments, Azerbaijan collaborates within an Eastern Partnership, a project which was initiated by the European Union, and includes Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova and South Caucasus states. The Twinning project of EU for the benefit of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Azerbaijan aimed on cultural sector policy and governance reform plus institutional development of cultural heritage management is realising in partnership with The Ministry of CulturalHeritage and Activities andTourism of the Italian Republic.
The Ministers of Culture of the Turkic-speaking countries (the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Republic of Kyrgyzstan, the Republic of Uzbekistan, the Republic of Turkey and Turkmenistan) founded, on an Azerbaijan initiative, TURKSOY – the International Organisation on Joint Development of Turkic Culture and Arts, in July 1993. The Turkic-speaking republics and regions of the Russian Federation, such as Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Khakasia, Tyva, Altay, Saha-Yakitiya, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and Gagauz Yeri Autonomous Oblast of the Republic of Moldova, joined later as observers.
The Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Azerbaijan actively participates in the Council on Cultural Cooperation of the Commonwealth Independent States (CIS), and joined in 2008 the Intergovernmental Foundation for Educational, Scientific and Cultural Cooperation of the CIS (IFESCCO).
The National Commission of the Republic of Azerbaijan for Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) was established in January 2016.