Special Expo 2025. Ambassador Ahmadzada: The candidacy of Baku, jewel of the Caspian Sea

Wed 14 Nov 2018 16:34 GMT | 20:34 Local Time

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On November 23, in Paris, the 164th General Assembly of the Bureau International des Exposition (BIE) will choose the host city of the 2025 Universal Exhibition. Three candidates are in competition: Baku (Azerbaijan), Osaka (Japan) and Ekaterinburg (Russia). A few days before the final response, Scenari Internazionali hosts exclusively the contributions made by the diplomatic representatives in Italy of the three countries involved, which will present the strengths of the respective candidates to the Italian public. News.Az presents an article written by the Ambassador of Azerbaijan in Italy, Mammad Ahmadzada for Scenari Internazionali.

If you look at the last few years, it is not surprising that Baku is a candidate to host the EXPO 2025. My country, with its capital, but not only, has been home to numerous notable international events in recent years. We have developed skills and experience, and these factors are certainly a guarantee for an EXPO in our capital. I refer to the first of our big events, the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest, followed by the spectacular European Games of 2015, up to the Games of Islamic Solidarity, the Chess Olympics and the World Cup of Chess, as well as the Formula 1. Baku has also welcomed many other international political, economic, cultural and sporting events, including the traditional International Humanitarian Forum and the Intercultural Dialogue World Forum.

On the horizon we also have the European Youth Olympic Festival, the UEFA Europa League final and four matches of the European Football Championship 2020 (UEFA Euro 2020). Yet, the experience accumulated by my country in organizing international events is just one of the elements that turn the spotlight on the candidacy of Azerbaijan as an organizing nation.

I would like to highlight, first of all, the centrality of the theme of our proposal: "Developing human capital, building a better future". This is a subject to which my country is particularly fond of. Azerbaijan has finally regained independence since 1991, despite having lived a parenthesis as an independent state between 1918 and 1920. Since 1991, although initially having to deal with problems of a political, economic and stability nature, we have pursued a path that has guaranteed macroeconomic stability and sustainable development. If you look at recent years, it is not surprising that Baku is a candidate to host EXPO 2025. My country, with its capital, but not only, has been home to numerous notable international events in recent years. We have developed skills and experience, and these factors are certainly a guarantee for an EXPO in our capital. I refer to the first of our big events, the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest, followed by the spectacular European Games of 2015, up to the Games of Islamic Solidarity, the Chess Olympics and the World Cup of Chess, as well as the Formula 1, which since 2016 he has always seen one of the most exciting circuits of the season in Baku. Baku has also welcomed many other international political, economic, cultural and sporting events, including the traditional International Humanitarian Forum and the World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue.

On the horizon we also have the European Youth Olympic Festival, the UEFA Europa League final and four matches of the European Football Championship 2020 (UEFA Euro 2020). Yet, the experience accumulated by my country in organizing international events is just one of the elements that turn the spotlight on the candidacy of Azerbaijan as an organizing nation.

I would like to highlight, first of all, the centrality of the theme of our proposal: "Developing human capital, building a better future". This is a subject to which my country is particularly fond of. Azerbaijan has finally regained independence since 1991, despite having lived a parenthesis as an independent state between 1918 and 1920, in the twenty-three months of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan, which so much legacy has left and of which this year we have remembered the centenary. Since 1991, although initially having to deal with problems of a political, economic and stability nature, we have pursued a path that has guaranteed macroeconomic stability and sustainable development.

Azerbaijan has shown the fastest economic dynamics over the last fifteen years. During this period, the gross domestic product increased by 3.2 times. Our country occupies one of the main global positions for per capita investment volume. More than $250 bn have been invested in the national economy, half of which are foreign investments. The poverty level dropped from 49% to 5.4%. Unemployment is 5%. It is to be considered that the population increases by at least 100,000 people each year.

In these years we have started to invest a lot in training future generations. We are a very young country: in Baku, over 65% of the population is under forty years old. Our government invests in schooling, we have a 99% literacy rate, and in training abroad, which guarantees our young people the opportunity to go for longer or shorter periods to study in the best universities in the world. By providing some numbers, I would like to highlight how, over the last fifteen years, more than 3,000 schools, 600 hospitals and 50 sports facilities have been built.

Proposing this unprecedented theme, for a world exhibition, has a global impact. It means giving confidence to the creativity, strength and vitality of the young generations. Furthermore, the theme chosen is directly linked to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and the three subordinate themes of Talent, Vitality and Realization are also aligned with the Goals.

Azerbaijan enjoys a stable and developing economy, and represents an ideal bridge between East and West. A very modern transport infrastructure network has been created in the country, including 6 international airports, railways linking Azerbaijan with neighboring states and covering most of the country, more than 15,000 km of roads and motorways built in the last three lustres, and the largest commercial fleet of the Caspian Sea basin, which boasts over 200 ships. Work in this direction was completed with the commissioning of the new Baku International Seaport. Today, the East-West and North-South corridors pass through the territory of Azerbaijan. Just Azerbaijan is the only country to participate in all these transport infrastructure projects. This also creates good conditions for a friendly neighborhood.

Its political stability and its sustainable development have made Azerbaijan a reliable partner for Western economies, including Italy, with which in 2014 a Joint Declaration on Strategic Partnership was adopted, during the official visit of President Ilham Aliyev in Italy. The recent and numerous mutual institutional visits, including that of the President of the Italian Republic Sergio Mattarella in Azerbaijan last July, of the First Vice-President of Azerbaijan Mehriban Aliyeva in Italy in September and of the President of the Italian Senate Maria Elisabetta Alberti Casellati in Azerbaijan in October, they confirm these privileged relations.

The same economic strength and stability would guarantee the success of a world exhibition in Azerbaijan, which is the only candidate developing country for the 2025 edition. Only two exhibitions out of fourteen have so far been organized by countries in development. Since 2000, Azerbaijan has guaranteed more than $ 1.5 bn in humanitarian aid to other developing countries and our EXPO assistance plan provides support to 90 developing countries.

Also the country's bridge-role, which I mentioned earlier, represents an added value of our project. In fact, Azerbaijan is able to reconcile different values and drives; its very architecture is a melting pot of ancient and modern, and we represent at international level a model of multiculturalism and tolerance. This has always emerged also in our artistic creations: I am thinking of the participation of Azerbaijan at the Venice Biennale or at the Azerbaijan Pavilion at EXPO Milano 2015. Surely they would be essential values of EXPO 2025.

Moreover, from a strictly geographical point of view, it would be the first exhibition organized in Eastern Europe and the venue would be easily accessible from all over the world: Baku's Heydar Aliyev International Airport has direct connections to 50 destinations around the world, which will become 100 from since 2025.

A perfect location for the realization of the Baku 2025 project has been identified: this is an area of 295 hectares east of the city, owned by the government, which ensures that no private properties or companies will have to be transferred for its finalization. The site is only thirty minutes from the center of the capital and ten minutes from the airport. The construction of a transport network is planned and the area will become the most innovative urban park in the world. The visual impact of the project is remarkable: seen from above, it will have the shape of an eight-pointed star, the national symbol of the country, with the national pavilion of Azerbaijan at its center.

Azerbaijan is very attentive to the issue of sustainability. It is no coincidence that the pavilion of Azerbaijan at EXPO Milano 2015 has been completely dismantled and rebuilt on the seafront of Baku, and it is news of a few weeks ago its inauguration. The site of Baku 2025, if we get the assignment of the event, will be a permanent legacy for residents and visitors. It is planned to be converted into a natural park and the Azerbaijan Pavilion will be transformed into a permanent exhibition. The area will be a place of education, but also of rest and protection of the ecosystem. Approximately 250,000 trees are expected to be planted. All this will also promote job creation and the expansion of the city. Baku 2025 also plans to leave a legacy internationally: the creation of the World Day of Human Capital.

What we aspire to, with Baku 2025, is to bring the nations of the world in a modern country but with a rich culture, to deepen, in a shared reflection, the ways in which human ability can be better used, to make the world the best place to live. It seems a brave challenge, but we can not wait to live it.

News.Az

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