Iran and Central Asia in the Mirror of Tangible and Intangible Cultural Heritage of Mongol and Ilkhanid Era, alongside of the Silk Road

The Institute for Political and International Studies (IPIS) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Iran in collaboration with the International Institute for Central Asian Studies (IICAS) held the International Conference on “Iran and Central Asia in the Mirror of Tangible and Intangible Cultural Heritage of Mongol and Ilkhanid Era, alongside of the Silk Road”. The conference was opened on 1 June 2022.

After the brief report on the conference, Dr. Muhammad Hassan Shaykh al-Islami, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and the President of the IPIS, welcomed the guests coming from different countries and locations for the conference. He articulated in his remarks the importance of the history of Asia, the need for research in this area through the viewpoints of the ancient scholars, identification of the roots of the conflicts, best solutions on prevention of conflicts, the importance of the Mongol era and the consequences of conflicts and wars on Central Asia.

He further emphasized on the capacity and role of Asia in terms of human and natural geography for solving the challenges in Asia through the recognition and safeguarding of tangible and intangible heritage of this region. Dr Shaykh al-Islami also highlighted the active coordination and collaboration of the Islamic Republic of Iran with IICAS that has been established as a direct outcome of the UNESCO Silk Roads Expeditions.

The conference was carried on with a video message by Dr. Dmitriy Voyakin, Director of IICAS, who joined the event remotely.

During the inaugural session of the Conference, UNESCO’s representative, Ms Rosanna Giannandre appreciated the organizers for providing an opportunity for exchanging their views in extending the knowledge, dialogue and cooperation in the region. Ms Giannandre reiterated the significance of the Silk Roads as a common knowledge connecting many distinct cultures.

Focusing on the mandate of UNESCO as the only Agency in the United Nations system with focus on the field of culture, Ms Giannandre stated: “The history of UNESCO is a journey with the aim to nurture reconciliation and unite people around a common heritage.” She continued by emphasizing the current need to recognize both the importance and the urgency of defending culture, both tangible and intangible heritage. UNESCO programmes and activities at both global and regional level concerning the Silk Roads engaging different countries in Central Asia, including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan as well as Afghanistan and Iran were listed by UNESCO Representative.

Ms Giannandre also called for equally highlighting the importance of documentary heritage alongside of the Silk Roads as “Documents produced and preserved over time, constitute the primary means of knowledge creation and expression, having an impact on all areas of humanity’s civilization and its further progress.”

The speech by Dr. Khusrav Noziri, the Secretary General of Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) followed the remarks of Ms Giannandre and further focused on the need for promoting our shared culture.

Dr Noziri highlighted the importance of the Eurasia and Mongol era, the economic and political relationships, the rich historical background of the region, Muslim arts, literatures, commercial activities along the Silk Roads and the exchange of ideas, knowledge and technology.

Dr Noziri concluded his remarks by reiterating the commitment of ECO for regional cooperation in economic development and bringing of prosperity in the region. It is noteworthy that the ECO is also engaged in regional institutional arrangements through ECO Cultural Institute with the aim to enhance visibility of regional culture and preservation of our cultural heritage alongside of the Silk Roads.

The inaugural session concluded by the performance of Persian Maqami Music and playing of Dutar.