Azerbaijan attends Sixth International Government Communication Forum in Sharjah

The Sixth International Government Communication Forum (IGCF 2017) has kicked off in Sharjah, the UAE. Held under the patronage of Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, the forum is themed ‘Societal Participation…Comprehensive Development’.

Azerbaijan`s delegation at the forum includes deputy Prime Minister Ali Ahmadov, ambassador to the UAE Dashgin Shikarov and Consul General in Dubai and Northern Emirates Parviz Ismayilov.

Prior to the opening ceremony Ali Ahmadov met with Ruler of Sharjah Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi. Ali Ahmadov hailed Azerbaijan-UAE relations as close and friendly. He also thanked the UAE government for supporting Azerbaijan`s fair stance on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

On behalf of President Ilham Aliyev, the deputy prime minister invited the Sharjah ruler to visit Azerbaijan. “I do believe that this visit will play a key role in developing relationship between Azerbaijan and Sharjah Emirate,” he said.

Ruler of Sharjah Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi said he plans to pay a visit to Azerbaijan in the near future. He hailed Azerbaijan`s accomplishments and development under President Ilham Aliyev.

IGCF 2017 was officially inaugurated with a keynote speech from Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah.

Emphasizing the role of education and development in the growth of the Emirate of Sharjah, Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi recounted how it all began 32 years ago, with the first children’s center in the UAE being based in Sharjah. The University City of Sharjah was established 12 years later. The generation that accompanied these projects is now an integral part of society. He expressed his happiness at the Forum’s theme that called for societal participation and commended the organizers for their efforts in including all segments of society and the UAE population, within the scope of this year’s Forum.

He said: “Today, we welcome around 5,500 pupils and approximately 1,200 students annually graduate across 350 masters and 120 PhD programmes. In addition, we are increasingly interested in focusing our efforts on scientific research, and have therefore allocated US$120 million for this purpose.”

Speaking on the theme of comprehensive development, he defined sustainable development as the prioritization of humanity over the being, which would allow progress to carry on beyond the life of a single being. Development should revolve around the family as a central unit, as well as the individual across different stages of life -- from childhood, to adolescence, to old age, he stressed. He lamented the lack of societal participation necessary for sustainable development.

Addressing the theme of Societal Participation and Comprehensive Development, the Ruler of Sharjah said that for true societal development, humans must be the source and core focus of such inclusive development, regardless of ethnicity and background. He also emphasized the need for health insurance for all segments of the population, especially the elderly, to ensure their continued care as the nation moves ahead.

Speaking on behalf of Ilham Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan, the guest of honour at the inaugural event, Ali Ahmadov, Deputy Prime Minister of Azerbaijan, expressed his delight at the opportunity to attend the important Forum. He read out the Azerbaijani President`s message to forum participants.

Ali Ahmadov commended the Emirate of Sharjah, and the wider UAE, on hosting the prestigious event, and voiced his concern on international issues such as famine, poverty, disease, inequality, environmental imbalance, and terrorism that have captured the attention of a worldwide audience.

He underlined the significance of such events and activities that bring together governments and nations, to coordinate their efforts in finding solutions to international issues, with communication at the core of this synchronization. He also highlighted Azerbaijan’s efforts, as an oil exporter and in light of recent fluctuations, to diversify its economy and step up its global status. He stressed the need for nations across the world to focus on sustainable development, and identify how to contribute to the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Ali Ahmadov highlighted Azerbaijan`s achievements in the 25 years since restoring its independence. “In the past 12 years, our economy has grown more than three times. More than 200 billion dollars have been invested in Azerbaijan`s economy. More than 1.5 million jobs have been created.”

Ali Ahmadov said thanks to President Ilham Aliyev`s far-sighted policy, poverty was reduced from 50 to five per cent from 2005 to 2015.

He drew the audience`s attention to the Azerbaijani government`s education and social policy. “Through pensions and social allowances, the government is ensuring all conditions for people who are unemployed because of their age or other reasons. The problem of illiteracy has been completely solved. The government provides healthcare services for every citizen. Social infrastructure has been completely overhauled. The past 12 years saw the construction and renovation of 3,000 schools and 600 hospitals.”

He said the country has initiated a number of projects of regional and global importance.

Ali Ahmadov also spoke of Armenia`s aggression against Azerbaijan. “Twenty per cent of Azerbaijan`s lands have been under Armenian occupation for more than 25 years. Over a million Azerbaijanis were expelled from their homes and live now as IDPs,” he said.

IGCF 2017 examines how the world’s nations can leverage effective government communication to achieve the SDGs, which have become the top priority of government programmes, international institutions, media organisations and civil society.

Offering a transparent platform to examine current issues and formulate recommendations to help governments optimise the impact of their communication, IGCF 2017 convenes more than 2,500 local and international personalities from the ranks of government officials, experts, thought leaders, and government communication professionals.

Asya Hajizade
Special Correspondent

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