Author: Namig HASANOV
It is a well-known fact that the Baku International Humanitarian Forum is the most important global platform for discussing humanitarian issues, intercultural dialogue, and interfaith dialogue. Over the years, the forum has become a place attracting advanced ideas, which are then adopted by the world leaders and experts.
On October 25-26, Baku hosted the sixth Baku International Humanitarian Forum. The main topic on agenda was the search for ways of introducing people to new technologies and modern realities.
Same as before, the number of attendants was impressive: more than 580 representatives from over 90 countries and 24 international organisations including two UN Deputy Secretaries-General, leaders of ISESCO, IRSIKA, TURKPA, TURKSOY, Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organisation, the International Turkic Academy, Inter-Parliamentary Union, UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Deputy Secretaries-General of UNESCO, International Fund for Turkic Culture and Heritage, CIS Executive Committee, as well as the Vice-President of Sudan, Deputy Prime Ministers of Russia and Slovakia, chairs and vice-chairs of parliaments of Uruguay, Russia, Egypt, Belarus, Italy and Estonia, ministers and deputy ministers of Turkey, Georgia, Montenegro, Uzbekistan, Bulgaria, Sudan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Afghanistan, the Philippines and Bulgaria, ombudsmen from Turkey, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, as well as more than 40 deputies from 15 countries, heads of diplomatic missions from 46 countries, heads of companies, scholars, a large number of experts from different fields.
During two days, more than 150 reports were heard at various sessions and panels. The participants shared their opinions and their vision of creative ideas that will shape our future world. Undoubtedly, this is one of the most relevant issues of concern to humanity.
Azerbaijan: an example of development and creativity
The Baku International Humanitarian Forum was held under the patronage of the presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan, which is a significant fact. Because of his tight schedule, Russian President Vladimir Putin was unable to attend the forum personally, but sent a greeting message to the participants, which was read out by the Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Government, Olga Golodets.
“I am sure that the forum participants will be able to outline new, promising forms and areas of mutually beneficial international cooperation, as well as exchange valuable professional experience and advanced practical developments,” the message of the Russian President said.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev was a key figure on the first day of the forum. Many guests noted his easy communication skills in different languages. President’s speech at the official opening ceremony of the forum was focused on introducing to the guests the latest achievements of Azerbaijan. President reminded that Azerbaijan is a very young country, and just recently celebrated the 27th anniversary of independence, which has established during the most difficult period of internal and external clashes. Mr. Aliyev called the aggressive occupation policy of neighbouring Armenia and the following inflow of more than a million refugees a “humanitarian catastrophe”. Nevertheless, Azerbaijan has demonstrated an accelerated development in many areas, particularly in the economy.
“We are completely independent economically. Certainly, economic independence strengthens our political independence. The national economy of Azerbaijan is self-sufficient, it does not depend on foreign loans. Not only have we stopped receiving loans, but we also began providing loans to some countries,” Mr. Aliyev said.
President associated the development of Azerbaijan with the strengthening of human capital. According to him, by investing heavily in the development of education, the country is able to look confidently to the future.
“The development of education and the application of modern methods in education is one of our priorities. The material and technical base of the education system is continuously strengthened. Over the past fifteen years, more than 3,000 schools have been built and repaired. I must say that in Azerbaijan there are more than 4,500 schools, the overwhelming majority of them are built at the highest standards. At the same time, many are increasingly interested in becoming teachers. As a result of reforms, including a significant salary increase, school renovation and other incentives, the number of potential teachers has increased several times, and this year we have witnessed this,” the president said.
He also noted the improvement in welfare of Azerbaijani population, which was made possible as a result of reforms in the social sphere and health care.
“Every year more than five million people undergo free medical examination funded by the state. It is a very important part of the humanitarian sphere. We will continue pursuing consistent policy in these areas,” the president said.
Ilham Aliyev invited the guests of the forum to visit one of the five ASAN Xidmət service centres operating in Baku, calling the project “a very important initiative in the social and humanitarian sphere”.
A separate part of presidential speech was dedicated to the development of transport infrastructure and the transformation of Azerbaijan into a transport hub of regional and global importance. The participants were told about the large potential projects North-South and East-West. President Aliyev also noted that the transport link allows to create good-neighbourly relations with almost all regional countries.
“Without good-neighbourly relations, no country can ever become a reliable transit point. Therefore, our energy, transport and infrastructure projects stimulate cooperation between countries. In order to deepen cooperation between countries, it is important to attach great importance to the humanitarian sphere, especially in relations with neighbouring countries, traditionally friendly countries. Without this, problems inevitable in all other areas,” Mr. Aliyev said.
The importance of humanitarian cooperation in the world is also emphasized by the leading role of Azerbaijan in the development of multiculturalism and tolerance. The country has become the initiator of many significant projects. For example, about 170 countries of the world enjoy the so-called Baku Process. This demonstrates that Baku is becoming a place where issues of concern to the world are being discussed.
Innovation and creativity
One of the most important goals of the sixth Baku International Humanitarian Forum was the analysis of innovative technologies, their influence on the development of the creative economy and the consciousness of people.
Fortunately, Azerbaijan does not lag behind the world IT leaders, and is the undisputed leader in the region. The government pays a lot of attention to the development of high technologies in the country, considerable funds are invested here and it is already possible to see some success in this area.
For several years now, Azerbaijan has been a member of the small world space club. Recently, our third artificial satellite was successfully launched into the Earth's orbit, which is an additional incentive for technological development and opens up new business opportunities.
The difficulty lies in the fact that innovations of the 21st century are difficult to predict. But one can and should prepare for them in order to direct creative thought into the mainstream of creation and obtaining the greatest profit. This was the focus of one of the panels of the Baku Forum. The participants in the discussions tried to find answers to many relevant questions, the main of which is: how to put the rapidly developing innovative technologies in the service of humanity?
Thus, the International Innovation Week was opened for the first time during the Baku Forum in Azerbaijan.
Organised by the Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies of Azerbaijan, the innovation is supposed to draw attention to the high technologies of the maximum number of young people in Azerbaijan and beyond. This will contribute to the exhibition, which shows the latest innovations in the field of high technology, as well as conferences, forums and competitions. Participants in the innovation week have already been able to communicate with Robot Sophia, who is considered the most developed artificial intelligence in the world. Charming, smart and accurate, Sofia was able to charm the Baku public. Experts believe that in the coming years, such robots will become available everywhere and will, in particular, be able to become useful home assistants. Thus, what we considered to be nothing more than a beautiful fantasy a couple of decades ago, today is already materialising.
Fighting the fake news
Another important topic of discussions at the Baku Humanitarian Forum was “disinformation policy”. Organised by the State Telegraph Agency of Azerbaijan and the Russian TASS, the panel tried to find ways to combat the so-called fake news. It was noted that the rapid dissemination of false information is a side effect of the development of information technology, increasing interconnectedness in the world.
Although the dissemination of false information is not something new, the world is experiencing a sharp increase in free and unregulated information. Lightning-fast fake news spreading through social networks quickly becomes public knowledge, sometimes replacing important and truthful information. Sometimes unintentional dissemination of false information by ill-wishers may transform into false news and duplicated by many media outlets. Because of such incidents, the increasing number of people are subject to misinformation. It is sometimes impossible to hold someone responsible without interfering with such a defining concept as freedom of expression. Therefore, often the responsibility falls on the shoulders of journalists who reprint fake news. Obligatory re-checking of any incoming information is the immediate duty of any journalist, and a diligence ethics will never be superfluous. Nevertheless, rapid elimination of fake news, obstacle to their distribution is possible with the operational relationship of the leading media in different countries. Therefore, Azerbaijani AZERTAG signed numerous agreements on cooperation with a number of news agencies of foreign countries.
The growing role of Azerbaijan in cultural and humanitarian cooperation in the world was the essence of the Baku Humanitarian Forum. The growing threats on the planet stimulates the development of a powerful resistance movement. Being a young developing country, Azerbaijan can well lead this vector of civilization development, demonstrating the world an example of culture, tolerance, goodwill, striving for high ideals in various fields of human activity. The next stage will be the fifth World Forum for Intercultural Dialogue scheduled for 2019 in Baku as well. Such forums can contribute to human security, peace and the sustainable development of countries.