How can cultural heritage be used to address the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic? Nizami Ganjavi and the world in 2021

March 9th, 2021


What might a poet born 880 years ago think of the year 2021? That was the question that Vaira Vike-Freiberga, Chairperson of the Madrid Club and former President of Latvia (1999-2007), Rosalia Arteaga Serrano, former President of Ecuador (1997), Djoomart Otorbaev, Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan (2014-2015), Hikmet Cetin, Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs (1991-1994), Ismail Serageldin, Vice-president of the World Bank (1992-2000), Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and Abdulaziz Altwaijri, former Director General of ISESCO (the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) all sought an answer to.

At the event, the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization was represented by the President of its Scientific Council, Professor Emil Constantinescu.

The meeting, held online, took place on March 9th 2021, occasioned by the anniversary of 880 years from the birth of the poet Nizami Ganjavi. The event, organized by the Nizami Ganjavi International Centre and the International Turkic Academy, was comprised of two panels in which discussions were centred around the legacy and cultural heritage left to posterity by Nizami Ganjavi through his work, but also tackled how such a cultural legacy might best be used in order to address the challenges of the present. Discussions ranged from the values that animated and motivated world leaders during the pandemic (an event that has transcended all borders, including political ones); the fact that human civilization, deeply affected by the aftermath of the virus should not however distance itself from its cultural roots, and we, as individuals, bear a responsibility to safeguard culture; the need to reach a comprehensive and inclusive modus vivendi in which we can learn from one another; to the need to build a new world order, predicated on the foundations of that already present, incorporating the lessons of the pandemic and retaining at the centre of this new world-view fundamental values such as peace, liberty, justice and prosperity. These values are also those Nizami Ganjavi himself often references throughout his work.

In the view of President Emil Constantinescu, for a historian as passionate about history and legend as Nizami Ganjavi “2021 might well have appeared as a pure struggle between Good and Evil. Leaving behind death and suffering, the still-ongoing pandemic has raised a series of questions to which we can only offer provisional answers. We must take into consideration the ongoing geopolitical and geostrategic shifts, as countries and entire continents attempt to adapt to the changes brought on by the pandemic. Its influence has indeed been immense, and it forcibly imposed a restructuring of our instruments of power in the guise of new resiliency programmes that must be implemented as soon as possible in order to at least begin to attempt to mitigate the damage already wrought”.





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