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The Vice-president at the World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue in Baku: Our Key Goal is to Teach Young People to Understand Others and Respect Differences and Values

2017-05-05 14:56:00

“The most used word today is “security” and it has replaced even the social problems and economy. Belligerent extremism knows no borders, ethnic groups, religions,” Vice-president Iliana Yotova said at the World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue in the Azerbaijani capital Baku. “The bridges and trust among us are not given once and for all, but we should struggle for them, defend and develop them,” the Vice-president said. Iliana Yotova highlighted the importance of the forum as an opportunity for building a world in which peoples and cultures, races and religions, nationalities live together in peace.

The success of such a forum already ensures a victory. “I am citizen of one of the oldest civilizations in Europe. My country Bulgaria has a history of more than 13 centuries. For more than 1336 years we have met different peoples and cultures. Therefore we know how to value and respect them and we believe that we will continue to do so, just as more than a thousand years ago the Slavic enlightener Constantine Cyril the Philosopher safeguarded the rights of all peoples to have an alphabet and divine service in their language,” Iliana Yotova said.

The major focus in the Vice-president’s speech was the topic about the young people. “The main reason for radicalization is not the lack of opportunities, but the lack of a goal,” Iliana Yotova was adamant. “Young people are exposed to the influence of extremist ideas when their own identity is endangered, “broken” in an increasingly more complicated and contradictory world, when security and trust are disappearing,” the Bulgarian Vice-president said. In Iliana Yotova’s opinion, it is not enough only to enroll the young people in school, to give them knowledge and provide for them, what is most important is to give them the self-esteem to realize that they are important and the development of the world depends on them. Our key goal is to teach young people to understand others and respect differences and values, the Vice-president said. Iliana Yotova highlighted the role of technologies and social networks. However, she pointed out that the latter should not obliterate values. We must support international trainings, the exchange of students, of knowledge. Five million international students cross borders and oceans and are real champions in intercultural dialogue and understanding. And their number could increase considerably if we invest in education, particularly in the countries and regions where ideological clashes are becoming increasingly fiercer, challenges are becoming increasingly tougher and the worlds fight to win the hearts and souls of the young people,” the Bulgarian Vice-president said. We should win the struggle against extremism and hatred, Iliana Yotova called for.

In her opinion, everybody should step up their efforts and be on the alert against the new type of terrorism, cultural cleansing. In her words, cultural legacy has already become an element of security. The Vice-president warmly welcomed all of Irina Bokova’s initiatives, as UNESCO Director General. “UNESCO is no longer merely a cultural organization, but has also become a security one,” Iliana Yotova said.

Bulgarian Vice-president Iliana Yotova is taking part in the World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue at the invitation of the Azerbaijani side in partnership with UNESCO, the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, the United Nations World Tourism Organization, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the Council of Europe, the Islamic Organization for Education, Science and Culture. The topics of the discussion include the migration crisis, preventing populism and polarization, promoting the cultural dialogue.   

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