In accordance with the working plans of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the performances of artists, theatre and music collectives and exhibitions organised abroad during the Days of Culture, as well as international competitions and festivals are covered by the Ministry. There is no special system of fellowships and financial aid, however, at the same time, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism assists artists and NGOs functioning in the field of culture. Furthermore, funds, banks and other financial institutions, operating in Azerbaijan, give considerable sponsorship to assist and promote the mobility of artists and artworks.
One new, and particularly significant, priority of Azerbaijan’s cultural policy abroad is maintaining links with cultural centres and associations run by Azerbaijanis living in other countries. According to the latest data, there are more than 100 of these, in a broad range of countries – Australia, Belarus, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Great Britain, Holland, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United States, Uzbekistan, etc. Many of these associations / centres were represented at the First, Second and Third World Congress of Azerbaijanis, held in Baku in November 2001, in April 2006 and in July 2011. The State Committee on Work with Azerbaijanis Living Abroad (now, the State Committee on Work with Diaspora) was formed in accordance with the Decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan in 2002.
Another popular form of cross-border intercultural dialogue and co-operation is active involving of relevant cities of the Republic of Azerbaijan in different Culture Capitals Programmes initiated by international organisations:
- at the 5th Islamic Conference of Culture Ministers (Tripoli, 21-23 November 2007), the capital of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Baku was proclaimed Islamic Culture Capital for 2009;
- Qabala city was proclaimed Commonwealth Culture Capital for 2013 by decision of CIS;
- Sheki city was proclaimed Culture Capital of Turkic World for 2016 by TURKSOY;
- Ganja city was proclaimed European Youth Capital for 2016 by European Youth Forum; and
- Nakhchivan city was proclaimed Islamic Culture Capital for 2018 by decision of the 6th Islamic Conference of Culture Ministers (Baku, 13-15 October 2009).
Intercultural dialogue: actors, strategies, programmes
The multinational and multi-confessional nature of the Azerbaijan population is an important aspect for intercultural dialogue, being one of the priorities of the national cultural policy. The basic spirit of the national policy derives from the Constitution, which proclaims all citizens equal, regardless of ethnic or racial origin. The Law on Joining the International Convention on Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (1996) has found its reflex in the Law on Culture (1998) and other relevant laws. On 16 June 2001, Azerbaijan joined the Framework Convention of the Council of Europe for the Protection of National Minorities. The main public actor responsible for implementing the programmes and policies to promote intercultural dialogue in Azerbaijan, at national and local policy levels, is the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. It closely cooperates with the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Youth and Sport, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Justice, State Committee on Work with Religious Formations, State Committee on Family, Women and Children’s Issues, Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences and the Republican Authors Rights Agency, depending on the matter under consideration.
Azerbaijan actively takes part in all relevant programmes and activities of UNESCO, the Council of Europe and other international organisations on the promotion of intercultural dialogue. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism has implemented the project “Cultural Diversity in Azerbaijan”, which was designed to highlight the country’s ethnic and cultural diversity. It involved the cultural associations of the various national minorities, and helped to realise one of its chief strategic aims – to develop and support intercultural dialogue. A Declaration, adopted at the scientific conference “Cultural Diversity in Azerbaijan” (June 2002, Baku), states the necessity to have constant interaction and partnership between the state sector, private sector and civil society; to hold periodical monitoring on the situation in the sphere of preservation and support for cultural diversity. Another significant event, traditional festivals – “Azerbaijan – my motherland”, was organised by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in November 2006, October 2008, November 2011, June 2014, June 2016. Scientific conferences, photo-exhibitions and preliminary concert performances and gala-concerts, held in the framework of the festivals, attracted thousands of participants from different regions representing practically all national minorities and ethnic groups living in Azerbaijan.
The establishment of the Baku International Multiculturalism Centre in 15 may 2014 testifies to the country’s commitment to principles of tolerance. Year of 2016 was declared the Year of Multiculturalism in the country what is aimed on preserving, developing and promoting multiculturalism traditions, noting that located at the crossroads of different civilizations, Azerbaijan is recognized worldwide as a country which has centuries-old national and cultural traditions, and where representatives of various nations and confessions live in peace, mutual understanding and dialogue.
2016 was declared the Year of Multiculturalism in the country, with the aim of preserving, developing and promoting multiculturalism traditions.