This occasion of friendship and music, which many musicians from different countries take part in, serves to encourage intercultural dialogue. On August 1, the solemn opening ceremony of the XI Gabala International Music Festival, organized by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation with the support of the Ministry of Culture and the Gilan Holding, was held. At the ceremony held in the Gabala Cultural Centre, a congratulatory letter addressed to the participants of the festival by the First Vice-President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Mehriban Aliyeva, who has exceptional merit in the development and popularization of musical culture in the country, was read. The letter runs as follows: “Dear participants of the festival! Dear friends! I cordially welcome you, participants of the XI Gabala International Music Festival, and I wish you success in the work of the festival and express my warmest wishes. At all times, culture has been the main means of communication between peoples and a reliable bridge of relations between civilizations. The interconnections of world cultures are still important in the life of modern society, in the socio-political processes taking place in the world, and in the dialogue of civilizations. Without taking this factor into account, it is impossible to feel the effectiveness of international relations and cooperation between peoples. Azerbaijan has historically sought to enrich mutually various cultures and strengthen unity between peoples. International cultural relations and mutual cultural integration are one of the main priorities of the interstate policy of Azerbaijan. It is no coincidence that important international events, such as forums, conferences and festivals, are regularly held in our country. Within the framework of the Baku Process initiated by Azerbaijan, which has turned into a genuine global platform for promoting intercultural dialogue, we held the V World Forum of Intercultural Dialogue in April this year. In June, the 43rd session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee was held in Baku. The date of the session remained in our memory by a significant event - the Sheki Historical Centre with the Khan’s Palace, located in one of the oldest cities in Azerbaijan, Sheki, was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. In connection with the 650th anniversary of the birth of the great Azerbaijani poet and thinker Imaddaddin Nasimi, by the decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the year 2019 has been declared the Year of Nasimi in our country. The Nasimi - Poetry, Art and Spirituality Festival, which will be organized in this regard in the fall, is expected to be attended by hundreds of guests from many countries. Once again proving that peace and humanism are the fundamental principles for Azerbaijan, these events unite representatives of different nations, regardless of their language, religion and ethnicity. All these are projects that undoubtedly increase the effectiveness of cultural and spiritual integration between peoples and, as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, I always support such events. The Gabala International Music Festival, which prestige is growing from year to year, is also recognized as an important event that makes a great contribution to intercultural dialogue. This festival of friendship and music, in which numerous musicians from different countries take part, serves to discover new talents, share knowledge and research in this area, as well as promote intercultural dialogue. I wish health to all participants of the festival and inexhaustible achievements to all creative people.” Speaking at the opening ceremony, the chairman of the Council of Elders of the Republic, deputy of Milli Mejlis Fattah Heydarov noted: “The festival, founded by the Foundation named after Great Leader Heydar Aliyev, is already known throughout the world for its significance. This festival is developing in parallel with our country. As it develops, it grows, flourishes, and expands its scope. The festival is of great importance for the establishment of not only cultural ties, but also friendly and fraternal relations between people, as well as high cultural ties between states. Today, guests from the most distant countries of the world come to our festival - China, America, England, Germany, France, the countries of the East, Turkey, and Iran. The festival is attended by the most prominent representatives of world art. These are very talented people, and everyone wants to see them and hear their performances. The Gabala Festival is one of the cultural events that has achieved great success in the life of the country. We are sincerely grateful to the ideological leader of this festival, who improves its organization from the moment of its creation to this day, the first Vice-President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, the main author of these successes, Mehriban Aliyeva, whose congratulations we have just heard.” In his speech, Rector of the Uzeyir Hajibeyli Baku Academy of Music, USSR People’s Artist, Artistic Director of the Gabala International Music Festival Farkhad Badalbayli emphasized that this year the festival also coincided with the jubilee events marking the 650th anniversary of the great Azerbaijani poet and thinker Imadaddin Nasimi, and noted that this anniversary is a great event in the cultural life of Azerbaijan. He wished success to the Gabala International Music Festival. After the opening ceremony, the U.Hajibayli Azerbaijan State Symphony Orchestra performed with an extensive concert program. The audience applauded the performances of People's Artist Ulviyya Hajibayova (piano) and Yegana Akhundova (piano) at a concert conducted by the Honoured Art Worker, Professor Fakhraddin Karimov.