Shusha hosted opening ceremony of 7th “Kharibulbul" International Music Festival and “Shusha - the Cultural Capital of the Islamic World 2024”

The opening ceremony of the 7th “Kharibulbul" International Music Festival and “Shusha - the Cultural Capital of the Islamic World 2024” was held at the Jidir Duzu plain in Shusha.

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva participated in the event.

The head of state addressed the event.

Speech by President Ilham Aliyev

- Dear Director-General of ICESCO, Mr. AlMalik.

Dear guests, dear friends.

As you are aware, the city of Shusha has been designated as the cultural capital of the Islamic world. I would like to express my gratitude to ICESCO, its leadership, and member countries – our brotherly nations - for this decision. Shusha has been bestowed with this prestigious designation, and we see it as a sign of the Islamic world's continued support and respect for Azerbaijan.

This isn’t the first time an Azerbaijani city has been honored with this prestigious title. In 2009, Baku and in 2018, the city of Nakhchivan were also declared as the cultural capitals of the Islamic world. This time, Shusha, the cultural capital Azerbaijan, will carry this prestigious title.

We are consistently working towards Islamic solidarity. Azerbaijan is making great efforts for the unity of the Islamic world and to strengthen Islamic solidarity.

Our country hosts many international events, music festivals, and cultural activities. Of course, the declaration of the city of Shusha as the cultural capital of the Islamic world will provide us with additional opportunities to showcase our culture both to Muslim communities and the global community.

Shusha is the homeland of many distinguished cultural figures of Azerbaijan. The renowned and genius cultural figures who were born in Shusha and grew up here are a source of pride for us. Shusha was historically known not only as a cultural center in Azerbaijan but also in the entire Caucasus region and a broader geographic area. The activities of Shusha's cultural figures always attracted great attention.

For 28 years, we lived without Shusha. Both the people of Shusha and all the Azerbaijani people remember and will continue to remember these years as years of spiritual suffering. Yesterday, another step was taken towards the revival of the city of Shusha, as the first residents returned to their native city after a long break and settled here. Active efforts are underway to restore the historical image of Shusha. Shusha is experiencing a true revival. Many historical and religious sites of Shusha were completely destroyed by the invaders during the occupation. Currently, four mosques are undergoing reconstruction, and repair and restoration works are in progress on others.

Despite the occupation, Shusha managed to preserve its spirit - the Azerbaijani spirit. When we returned to Shusha after its liberation, each of us witnessed this again and again. Every person coming to Shusha clearly sees that the Azerbaijani spirit is present here. Shusha did not succumb during the occupation and oppression. As representatives of the Azerbaijani people, we had to reclaim Shusha, and we did so with bloodshed and sacrifices, may Allah rest the souls of all our martyrs in peace. The liberation of Shusha through urban battles is a bright chapter in our history.

As I mentioned, while Shusha is renowned as a cultural hub, it now also symbolizes heroism, victory, and peace. Following the liberation of Shusha, the occupiers realized that resistance would lead to nothing for them. Therefore, today we rightfully regard Shusha as a symbol of peace.

I extend a warm welcome to our foreign guests. This year's "Kharibulbul" festival is dedicated to the declaration of Shusha as the cultural capital of the Islamic world. Today, performers from numerous Muslim nations will showcase their talents in the sacred Jidir Duzu plain. It will be a festival of unity and solidarity. This place, which embodies the unwavering spirit of the Azerbaijani people, is dear and precious to each of us —both before, during, and after the occupation. Our heroic soldiers and officers, look, by scaling steep cliffs, liberated the city from the enemy with light weapons.

I am confident that peace will always reign in Azerbaijani lands from this point forward. My wish – I am confident, the wish of all the people of Azerbaijan - is that under this sky, the sounds of cannon fire will never be heard again. May only the sound of music resonate here henceforth. Thank you.

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Then, ICESCO Director-General Salim bin Mohammed AlMalik delivered a speech.

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Following the speeches, the event continued with a concert.