EIGHTH INTERNET GOVERNANCE FORUM
BUILDING BRIDGES-ENHANCING MULTISTAKEHOLDER COOPERATION
FOR GROWTH AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
OCTOBER 25, 2013
AZERBAIJANI GOVERNMENT OPEN FORUM
BUILDING BRIDGES: ELIMINATION OF THE DIGITAL DIVIDE
The following is the output of the real-time captioning taken during the Eigth Meeting of the IGF, in Bali, Indonesia. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the session, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
>> MODERATOR: Hello. Good morning, everyone. Thank you for joining us in this workshop about very important things like connectivity in a huge region of I would say Asia, but it's Asia and Europe. And I would like to thank our panelists that are with us this morning and with you, our audience.
And also I would like to thank the Indonesian host that has given us the opportunity to host this interesting big meeting in a beautiful venue with nice food and great hospitality.
And I would like to introduce our panelists. I would give the floor to them so they can tell their names and affiliations. Then I think we will start with the first presentation. So I will start to my left. Vasif, would you present yourself? I'm sorry, I thought --
>> VASIF MAMMADOV: My name is Vasif. I'm working with Azerbaijan ICT and joint projects as well.
>> LEONID TODOROV: I am Leonid Todorov of TLD.RU. We are neighbors to Azerbaijan and very good friends. We are very happy to be here.
>> OLGA CAVALLI: My name is Olga Cavalli, I work for the government of Argentina. We are not neighbors of Azerbaijan. There is long distance between the two countries. That doesn't mean we are not very good friends in between our countries. I'm very happy to be here and glad for the invitation. I was so happy to be in Baku last year for the IGF.
>> NARIMAN HAJIYEV: My name is Nariman Hajiyev. I work for the United Nations representing Azerbaijan
>> MODERATOR: Vasif, you start? Oh, okay.
>> NARIMAN HAJIYEV: I would like to echo, Olga, your words. First of all, I would like to thank all of you for coming and then I would like to also thanks our participants as well as the government of Indonesia for providing such a unique opportunity for the proper conduct of this forum
It is my great pleasure and honor today to deliver remarks on behalf of our republic. This forum will focus on the topic of the bridging, future bridges for the elimination of the digital divide in the Trans-Eurasian region.
Being both a cause of the rapid globalization process, as we know information communication technologies have brought about considerable changes throughout the world and forced the revised traditional development of paradigms. The emergence of such notions as ICT and the Information Society and knowledge economy manifests that change. Inadequate telecommunication infrastructure is not one of president main causes of digital divide. Without access to Internet, for instance, no Internet-based services can be generated and used. For example, the broadband trend that is reflecting the access to high-speed Internet are alarming when measured. That is why the ITU argues that despite its substantial drop in price by approximately 52 percent for the fixed about connection in Developing Countries and ICT services continue to be more affordable in high income economies and less affordable in low economies.
That is the digital divide divides to the difference between those who can afford the technology and those who cannot in the Trans-Eurasian region. The concept of the digital divide can be explained from two perspectives. The first thing, the existing divide between those countries that have ample access to electronic search information and those who don't have. The second as a perspective is the difference in Internet literacy and the aptitude between the citizens of developed versus under Developed Countries.
Now I would like to present a number of slides illustrating that what divides Eurasia from other countries. We can see here the digital divide. The source of this slide is the United Nations eGovernment survey. In the next slide we can see again the digital divide in terms of the eGovernment and online services index. Again, the source of that let me say the figures is the United Nations eGovernment report survey. The last slide about the digital divide is a potential to overcome the divide. It shows from the select addendum, the selected countries in terms of human capital index.
What is Trans-Eurasian super information highway and what is EurACA. For this reason the area of Azerbaijan proposed something called the Trans-Eurasian superhighway to undertake bridging the digital divide between European and Asian countries and establishment as a, which is reflected in the third resolution of the U.N., and it was to establish the -- we call this EurACA. This fiber line can be covered with the countries from western Europe to Eastern Asia.
And please kindly have a look at the initial map of the EurACA which covers the Europe and the Asia, et al.
And what are the major benefits of this project? The establishment of the EurACA will play an important role in improving cognition between the governments, civil society and private sector and international organisations for ICT sector p and combine the sector the major information exchange of Europe and Asia. It also could create open Information Society in the region, increase the speed of Internet connection on the development of Internet services.
As well as we could, it will ensure coordination of synergies and cooperation, effective use and experience and resources existing in the member countries to contribute the implementation of the goals.
What is the mobilizing global and U.N. support? On December 21st, the First Resolution was adopted on the United Nations General Assembly for the creation of the superhighway. There is, the resolution supported approximately more than 30 countries. The next resolution after passing the three years, the next resolution was adopted and the last resolution on establishment of Eurasia connectivity allies was adopted in September and it was -- sorry.
Adopted and support proposed to establishment of the Eurasian connectivity allies with International Telecommunications Union and as well as to improve development of the regional telecommunications transit route.
What about the funding of this project? The central will be the contributions from ally members, which is from national segments as well as voluntary contributions made by other stakeholders. But so far the Secretariat is fully funded by the government of Azerbaijan.
The proposed scope of the EurACA is four main directions as we see from this slide. The first one is the infrastructure maintenance which also includes the service procurement, management of commercial products and the second is capacity and skill building. The third direction of the, and one of the main pillars is development of applications an services for the Eurasian common development goals. The last is the partnership and management of promotion of international cooperation and sponsoring and end users.
Thank you for your kind attention.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you for your presentation. It is very interesting. I would like to, before we give the floor to other panelists I would ask you which is the stage of development of this project? Is it ongoing? Is it pending to start?
>> NARIMAN HAJIYEV: Indeed, the process as I mentioned in my speech, the last resolution adopted in September and the resolution advised to establish the Eurasian connectivity alliance. That resolution was accepted one month before, ago. And that is why we are going to start all preparational issues for the project from the next beginning of the year.
A friend of mine who is the focal point of the first part of this project which we use to say that Trans-Eurasian superhighway and if you don't mind Mr. Hasanov will give you a briefing on the consortium on this part of the project.
>> ZAUR HASANOV: Hi, everyone. It is a pleasure to be here. My name is Zaur and I am representing the Trans-Eurasian. The current stage is following, Olga. Usually Azerbaijan conducts so-called BakuTEl international conference on telecommunications. It is 19th annual conference and we expect that all five operators of the TASIM project, Aros Telecom, China Telecom and Azerbaijan Telecom will be there to sign a memorandum of understanding. And after this phase it is very kind of benchmark for us.
After this, we will start the consultation on a traffic policy, as an example, as a business unit which will be used at various approaches to this issue, but pretty much I would say that 90 percent of the consultations have been conducted with hired some years ago a company to conduct the overall research and capacities of the TASIM project. So we are going in the right direction and expect that from December we will have a kind of benchmark to move ahead and start real construction of the TASIM.
>> MODERATOR: That's great news. I remember BakuTel that was held side-by-side with the IGF meeting. It was an impressive conference. I recall it was very huge and very well attended.
So I will give the floor to Vasif. I'm sorry I misspelled your name before. He is the officer in Azerbaijan and please, Vasif.
>> VASIF MAMMADOV: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Prior to talking to my point I would like to see if there are questions in the audience regarding the presentation that was done before.
(There is no response.)
>> VASIF MAMMADOV: What about remote participants, is there any question? Okay. Talking regarding EurACA I would like to make a brief comment. What is EurACA? There is a presentation, actually EurACA is focuses on from the perspective of the U.N. is that as you may know, they are already international institutions are tackling these problems of digital gap. The first, biggest one is ITU. However, to what extent is it sufficient? The EurACA and the main target is focusing on making the alliance of the country to share the common problem. Because you can definitely see that, the digital gap is simply, in simple words, in Eurasia, the residents, it doesn't matter if they live in a rural region or urban location, but they pay more. They have a really slow speed of Internet. It is reverse in Europe. The aim of EurACA is to have equal, starting from Hong Kong and ending in Paris.
And another thing about EurACA. It will not only focus on the eradication of the digital gap as well as provide the governmental level as well as civil society level services starting from the, the writing of the strategies, training of the staff, and remuneration of the special guest and representatives from the country tackling their own problems.
So it has huge perspective. Some people can actually perceive it as a kind of junior ITU. Maybe some can take it the same level as ITU. But if you have a look at the U.N. resolutions you can find out that it is actually it should be in a close cooperation an close support of ITU.
And another thing is if they get a question from the audience, today's Open Forum wasn't focusing on EurACA. The audience knows we were the host country of the previous IGF in 2012 which was quite successful and outstanding compared to other IGFs not only because of the number of participants but also the attendance of the attendees at the workshops. As indicated in the e-mail to our guests here, we also are initiating the initiative to have a national Internet Governance Forum in December. What is it actually? It will be conducted in the same way with BakuTel which is a well-known show case in Azerbaijan. It is happening annually and participants participation is quite immense. And the organizer of the national IGF will focus on the problems that Azerbaijan has in terms of national expertise. We know that IGF mainly focus on global issues. They try to tackle global challenges. I'm quite sure the philosophy there wasn't any -- what kind of problems the Indonesian IGF focuses. They are focusing also on more like disabled people, how to help them facilitate them. Have them have success like any other resident of this country and definitely this workshop will focus on specifically what can be done to improve the international and as well as Internet Governance forum in Azerbaijan. So thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you so much. Are there questions so far for Vasif or Nariman from the audience? I give the floor to my friend Leonid from Russia. He works in CCD.RU. They were very active in the face of -- TLDs. I recall the issues and issues about some cashes.
So Leonid, the floor is yours.
>> LEONID TODOROV: Thank you. If I could ask for a couple of extra minutes because I believe it is not that clear for the audience here in this room as well as online why this project originates in the Eurasia, what Eurasia is about; why we need this superhighway as well as our friends and colleagues.
So let me start with just explaining to you that we talk about one of the most complex regions in the world because Eurasia is basically 12 newly independent states that became independent in 1991 after the USSR collapsed. We talk about the population of 400 million people. Basically so far missing on the Internet governance map and on the Internet map as well.
So we talk about the countries, some of which benefited greatly from oil and gas reserves. And these are Azerbaijan, Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. The rest eight nations are still struggling as they face a lot of economic, social, environmental problems including challenges which Yasif just mentioned associated with a low penetration rate of the Internet or even nonexistence of the Internet in many regions and provinces there. And with very low access to broadband at the prices are very low.
It aims to tackle the critical challenge which these nations face these days. I believe that this is absolutely new stage of international cooperation in Eurasia. It is a project to build trust between those nations which were parts of the same Soviet empire but then gone independent and because of that lost some kind of mutual trust.
And it is also interesting to see that this project is, we have heard a lot of discussion. What is better? Multilateral or multistakeholder approach to whatever challenges we face these days. I believe this project is a unique combination of both approaches. We can see multilateral cooperation between states and governments as well as multistakeholder because we do have a private businesses, contributed to these project.
Also I believe this project highlights the role of the State with S capitalized which, from my perspective as far as this presentation, is close to the ideal. So the government, the State, spearheads this project. It provides a capital investment, massive capital investment to deliver this project. It also coordinates foreign policy so that to harmonise the interests of different players in the region. Imagine we talk about, I don't know how many thousand kilometers.
>> AUDIENCE: (Speaker away from microphone.)
>> LEONID TODOROV: 11,000-kilometers from China, through Europe. So it is kind of a Trans-Eurasian superhighway. We talk actually about the replication on an absolutely new level of I guess you remember some of you of the medieval Silk Way when caravans were going a month, for months and months from China to Europe and other countries. Now it will be a matter of seconds or milliseconds.
The government is also keen again -- G capitalized -- to shape the market environment to provide whatever services at affordable prices on a competitive basis and most importantly as far as we talk about the Internet for development, most importantly the government is keen to ensure spillover effects, which Vasif just talked briefly. That is, a booming supplier and consumer industries. This is quite understandable. These ambitious project will require a lot of joint effort from whatever businesses, not necessarily Internet companies only.
Employment. This is a critical issue. I guess our friends from Africa would certainly appreciate it. So there will be employment. Bolstering human capacity. This is also important because when the USSR collapsed the formal educational system collapsed together with the country and still some Eurasian nations face huge challenges in terms of secondary, higher education.
So building Information Society, which in turn will provide a strong I would say impetus to growing of the civil society and its proper interaction with the government structure.
So I believe this project has a very bright future and we are very happy that Russians participate in that. I mean, our Aros Telecom company and as to the up coming event in Baku, we are greatly looking forward to this. And well, I just wish you luck! Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Leonid. Any comments so far from the audience?
Do you have a mic over there? Thank you. Please, go ahead.
>> AUDIENCE: Okay. My name is Abubakar Karsan coming from Tanzania. I'm the president of the Union of the Tanzania Press Club. It happens to be the Secretariat of the national Internet Governance Forum in our country. And we are highly privileged here because I am with my colleague who happens to be the Chairman of that Steering Committee, which is organising for the national Internet Governance Forum.
My take on this meeting today, I would like to get some information from you on the formation of the Secretariat which is organizing for you a national Internet Governance forum. What is the role of the media and the civil society? Because when I read this paper here it tells me as if this Committee is comprised of the state part. What about the role of the non-state actors in organisation of the national Internet Governance Forum? When I read the topics which you are going to discuss at the level of the national Internet Governance Forum, there is this issue of cybersecurity which happens to be quite a very big problem not only in your country but I think in most of the countries in the world, especially on how you can come up with a cybersecurity law. How to enact laws that will govern cybersecurity?
And we have in our country highly experienced lawyer who knows these issues of cybersecurity. He has participated in many international foras and we could be very happy if you would invite this person to participate in this national Internet Governance Forum in your country so that you could learn or you could share information with him.
So first of all, thank you very much for inviting me and my colleague to come here and we would like to share much on how we organize our national Internet Governance Forum because in our country we have done this since 2008. So we have quite a vast experience on how to organize Internet Governance Forums. We will be very happy to share with you our experience. Thank you very much.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you to our friend from Tanzania and would you like to add any compensate? Your colleague? Would you like to add something?
>> AUDIENCE: I am Kenneth Simbaya, the president of the Tanzania Press Club, just like my colleague has said. Probably my comment will be best at the end because so far so good. We haven't had like the process, the process which Azerbaijan is going through in preparing this national Internet Governance Forum, bearing in mind we are close to December now. It is likely hopefully that already there is a process which Azerbaijan has already undergone.
Now, if I had the process which has been taken so far, I will be in a better position to see what I'm learning or what I can contribute in terms of refining or improving or inputting to the process. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you. Any reactions from the floor to our colleagues from Tanzania?
>> VASIF MAMMADOV: Thank you, Chairman. First of all, thank you for your comments an also suggestions regarding the nationality Internet Governance Forum. Definitely you have more experience. We are initiating to launch the first one. Definitely after the meeting I need to get the contact details of the person that we definitely would like to see in the December in Azerbaijan.
Regarding the topics, even show we have enough time. Say one and a half months. These topics, we are thinking that people can talk about in the forum. But as you have already seen in IGF here this week, most of the workshops, the titles were different. The content was irrelevant. That actually we are trying to avoid in this meeting. We are trying to know what kind of topics we need to focus on. Therefore we made it more like the case of Azerbaijan. When you have a specific country, it is really difficult to refrain from some specific issues or to take the challenges of global Internet Society back to the agenda.
So regarding cybersecurity that you mentioned, why would we put cybersecurity to the agenda is as you may know in December in the same week there will be a U.N., one of the huge U.N. events on cybersecurity in Azerbaijan. And regarding that event, definitely it will be well-known a renowned experienced scholars in this point as well as well-known guests. What we are actually intending to do, to try to involve them in our meeting as well in order to share their experience for kind of specific steps that should be commenced in order to tackle the cybersecurity issues.
But the problem that we had that you asked the question about initially, that should we actually focus on the local audience or the regional audience? Internet is a thing that you can't put specific borders. They always blur and it is tough to be precise. What we are focusing on to make this first initiative. In most of the regional countries, like in Russian they have their IGF. In independent near you have it for years. In Australia they had it the last two years and they had a recent meeting two weeks ago. And the focus is to make society to be aware what actions are going on and how the government is involved in Internet Society of the country.
So this is more than the Internet, Internet as engine for regional growth and advancement. Starting with Azerbaijan we are trying to have at the next meeting in remote areas of the country, starting from the capital and trying to focus on what actually problems first Azerbaijan has and then what the regions of the country, the Alpine regions they do have.
But in anything that I would like to add in the end, definitely the topics can cover all the issues of the Internet, but we are trying to cover the issues we are facing in Azerbaijan. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Vasif. And please, Leonid.
>> LEONID TODOROV: Being parts of the same big country, we still face have faced similar challenges. Let me building on our experience in Russia. So I believe your question is absolutely relevant. We had to date, we've got four IGFs. And indeed, the media are sometime under represented at those events. Although we send a bunch of invitations to the national media, including printed and electronic. And what we found out, that the turnout effect was really small. I would attribute these to a very low awareness among journalists. What the Internet governance is about. It is not still an issue for them because one of them claim quite recently, okay, if I have a water leakage, water supply leakage in my house I would call a plumber. Why should I care when the Internet is running in my apartment? Everything is fine. I don't need to care of the Internet Governance. So we believe as well as our Azerbaijan friends, one of the prime objectives of such events is not only to raise awareness but to include people, by the way as I already mentioned, given all the educational challenges in the post Soviet states, including the academics.
I must say that our colleagues in Azerbaijan took a lead in this effort because they have just established an ICT university. I mean, an educational institution dedicated, educational institution in their country. These are still missing in my country.
So we put emphasis on these things in our effort. Let me mention for a country as huge as Russia, we so far have managed to draw only 500 participants. You know, Russia occupies a part of Europe and a part of Asia. So we managed to expand our outreach only to that natural border between Europe and Asia because still for some people it is very costly to come over to Moscow from Siberia. I imagine many of them might be able to come to Baku, for example, because we will have visa waiver regime. It is easier to come to Baku than to Moscow. It is cheaper. Very important issue.
Plus for Baku to be a kind of natural nucleus for part of, a great part of Eurasia is not only do some nations in Eurasia share the -- well, still the command of the Russian language, but they are also united by some kind of Turkish root languages so they can easily understand each other even without mastering the Russian language. So that is also important.
That is it. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you, Leonid. Nariman, you want to say something?
>> NARIMAN HAJIYEV: I want to bring up, the IGF last year was hosted in Baku, Azerbaijan, we decided to conduct the first national, maybe related the regional IGF. And as a result of this event we decided to conduct workshop on eParticipation. The eParticipation workshop on empowering the people through the ICT in decision making process.
And taking this opportunity I would like also to invite the participants in Baku, there will be many events in December, first week of December. A friend of mine has already indicated the first one is the exhibition, international conference which we used to call the BakuTel and the second is national and regional national Internet Governance Forum and the third one as Vasif already mentioned is the international conference on cybersecurity which we used the cybersecurity topic which used to be very popular nowadays as well. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much. We have some comments from the floor. Do we have a mic over there?
Thank you. Could you say your name and your affiliation, please?
>> AUDIENCE: I'm Mike Harris from Index On Censorship. The government of Azerbaijan certainly has a very progressive attitude towards the Internet. It is the first country in the world to ever release the results of a presidential election on the Internet the day before voting even had taken place which is certainly testament to a different attitude towards the Internet that is normal in democracies. We had the IGF in Azerbaijan last year. It is a real shame that when the world's community, when civil society came together in Baku, the government of Azerbaijan instead of taking a message to an open and plural is particular Internet is good for systems, is good for the country, good for democracy, it took the opposite lesson. In the last year, systematic harassment, arrests, victimization of bloggers and journalists. The government tightened the law. There has been an increased punishment for criminal defamation online.
And in fact, instead of embracing the Internet and saying look, plurality is here to say. We learned lessons from the Arab spring. We see how the Internet is good and possibly good for the country. The government the Azerbaijan is becoming more draconian, limiting the space for freedom of expression and I think it's a real shame that the IGF didn't use its, the legal leverage it had to make sure that the government of the Azerbaijan stuck to the promises I had mate in Baku and it made specific promises on what it would do to protect Internet freedom. It has absolutely failed to implement them. The countdown on civil society will not be ignored by people across the world.
>> MODERATOR: Do we have reactions from the floor? First I would like to say that all these things are processes, not moments. Just personal reflection on that. Nariman?
>> NARIMAN HAJIYEV: I would like to briefly -- first of all I would like to thank for the comment. Just very briefly let me disagree with you, the first of all because if I don't know you have personally participated in the last IGF in Baku. Yes, you did? Okay. And if you did participate, indeed in Baku in IGF you could see how the Internet is free and the freedom of speech. I don't know what, where you have this kind of information, but as a matter of fact we could see how the Internet and the freedom of speech is free in Azerbaijan and the social media all inclusive aspects. This is the first remark.
And the second issue, I would like just to bring your kind notice that the topic of today's session is just regarding the Eurasian alliance, regarding the international project which is not only important for the government of Azerbaijan. It is very important for the whole region, for the Asia and for the Europe. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you, Nariman. I think we have another question from you? Could you say your name and affiliation, please?
>> AUDIENCE: Thank you. My name Izanif. I am Azerbaijan and representative. I have a question who participate from local civil society in national Internet Governance Forum?
>> You mean the last year?
>> AUDIENCE: No, from this, for this workshop.
And who made the decision? Organizing this?
>> You means in terms of participation, today right now or in the IGF which has hosted the last year?
>> AUDIENCE: No, I am speaking about national IGF forum which you are planning to organize in December.
>> AUDIENCE: And local participation. And I am also agree with my colleague from with regard to the censorship because Internet is not only technical issue. This is also based from human factor and if for example you go for this multinational project, you are connecting ally -- one country blocked the Internet. For example, and other countries Internet users also have problem. You remember problem with Russia and Georgia when Georgia block one Web services another neighbor country introduces, users don't have enough access to any online websites.
But also I want to speak about human rights in Azerbaijan, but after IGF have lots of violations against online dissidents. Now we have three bloggers and a journalist and they are in prison. You think it is normal, yes, Azerbaijan have free Internet, but other stakeholders like me told for no, we have imprisoned journalists. We have bloggers in prison which is with different fake criminal cases. But it is possible. We don't have free Internet if we don't have real freedom of expression in Azerbaijan.
>> NARIMAN HAJIYEV: I will be very brief to your comments. Thank you for your comments. The first comment regarding the participation of the civil society in the up coming events which will be scheduled to be conducted in December in Baku. The thing is that since the national and the regional IGF is a follow-up as a country and as a region, since it is integral part of the global IGF, there will be no any kind of restrictions which you are thinking about it. The civil society private sector governments all participants which would like to have participate are most welcome. There is just a website. You need just register as we used to have the last eight years for the global IGF. That is simple. You have to go to the website, register and come and take and participate in all sessions which are scheduled.
The other issue which we have already remind to the gentleman which has raised the issue, as I mentioned, I totally disagree with that. There is, I could easily say that there is no as you mentioned, there is no human -- there is no concrete human rights violations or there is a concrete freedom of speech. Maybe you disagree with me, but this is very natural because when two let me say the parts didn't find the common language in one sense, it means none of them agree with each other. But I am still with my point, with my sense that I am disagree and there is no use to agree with you.
>> MODERATOR: I think Leonid and Vasif?
>> LEONID TODOROV: Let me comment what Nariman just said. My favorite response, nobody is perfect. That is my first response. Second we should not forget that we have a long, long story of Communist rule and that record cannot be erased that easily. We still bear a great, well, you would agree or disagree with me. I am a former member of the Communist party by the way of the Soviet Union. Imagine this? Anyway, so.
Let me tell you this. These two decades, nearly three decades of transition were the hardest time in our lives. It is not that -- well, sometimes it is easy to do a major overhaul with the economy. It is not that easy to change the mind set. Not only for the government but for the people in the street. So it is not that easy to learn the lessons of the full-fledged democracy and the rules how to express yourselves. Like you can reprimand me for what has happened in Moscow recently. By the way, it involved those people from Azerbaijan who live in Moscow. Once a Moscow guy was stabbed into his back allegedly by Azerbaijani. There was a riot against Azerbaijanis. Should I be against Nariman because of that or should we go through the media and explain to people that democracy is not about rioting and looting local Azuri stores. Tensions are there. It takes time. We are still in the process of transition.
Democracy is a very fragile thing and it is so easy to break it once and for all. I wouldn't urge you to just to double thing or do a thing -- I'm dying for your stance, I mean for your right to have this stance, but you can also hear us. So what I mean at the moment, we are still in the very kind of process of transition. So please, do understand it.
And it is not that easy to impose democracy from the top or just to learn that lesson that fast as Communists would think, Marx and Lenin. Again, it takes time -- speaking of the freedom of the Internet, it is a very interesting issue. I urge you, if you try not to just read the publications on the Internet. Rather, if you master Russian or Azeri, try to read what people comment on this. You will see freedom of speech, unbelievable freedom of speech which I would love to limit because there are so many obscenities there.
Again I am dying for their right to express themselves, but there should be some limits at the same time, believe me, especially when it comes to some very specific concepts, you know. We can talk about at length at some other section, protecting children online, kind of netiquette and stuff like that. Like very quick comment.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you, Leonid. I think we have Vasif?
>> VASIF MAMMADOV: First of all, thank you for your question. Actually questions because there were like several issues and thank your question for the owe friend for the question. It is out of my competence to make any comments on behalf of the government of Azerbaijan, but from someone standing on that side, first of all, regarding the Internet Governance Forum there is a website in the Internet, IGF.Az. It is a link that is blinking. So it's easy.
Another issue with the problems with the previous IGF. First of all, there was any precedent that Azerbaijan conducted such a huge event in Azerbaijan. The expectancy was that there would be like accept hundred, 800 participants. Instead there were like 1,600 participants. People were complaining about food, complaining about the access to the Internet and so forth. Actually, the problem was that they were like more than attendees that was actually expected.
Regarding the issue that how the human rights issues can be impediment for the Eurasian alliance. What I can briefly say, you all definitely know that the human rights charter. There is -- what actually this is, universals are the people perceiving all the points and ideas of the U.N. human rights. People have picked some rights. That goes to the issue of community, how community itself cease that. In Asia, not like in Azerbaijan only, in Asian countries you see that there is no individualism. They are talking about community. You look at say is that like in China, for instance, Confucian idea is that you respect your elders and stay with your families. Look at Asia, the hugest population in the world of the Muslim population. 242 million people living here. If you ask anyone when you leave the room, the local people indigenous people they have this cultural rights, even when they are we had, quite similar, they don't have their own right to choose their future partner. It comes from the issue of community.
So from the perspective when you do look to the problems of the issues, you have to look for first of all what kind of community we are talking about. This is a community that they had before or trying to have it and to what extent the community's reaction is.
And the last point about how actually the -- were having a problem to be part of that alliance. That is what the alliance is for. The alliance is for people to avoid from this problem and to go on and tackle with this impediments that actually there is and digital gap as a kind of concept can be described as a lack of Internet speed as well as a lack of success. So that actually alliance will fight for.
So far 53 countries already support the alliance in a way that is through supporting the resolutions and instead I'm quite sure it is encompassing most of the western countries as well as the Asian countries. That's a big plus. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: We have two comments from the floor, but from the audience, but I think Nariman wants to add a sentence?
>> NARIMAN HAJIYEV: I will be brief just to summarize what I already said that there is a concrete, the progress -- I would like to say the progress of ICT sector and since we are the leader in the region, I mean, it is a vital proof of Internet freedom which means there is no human right violation at all. Since if you just look at the figures of the ICT, I mean, and the progress of the ICT which has, we did within one year. I mean we have already established the ITU university and launching of the satellite and if we are speaking about Internet freedom, if you look at the Internet penetration rate for the example for the last year and then mobile Internet penetration and using the Internet from the mobile devices could easily show how the Internet freedom is indeed in Azerbaijan and it gives us a clear picture on that. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thanks, Nariman. We have comments from, two comments from the audience?
>> Hi, everyone. My name is Zaur. And from the TASIM Project, once again. Regarding your friend over there, the fundamental problem in a nutshell is that there is no unique a propose with how to deal with this situation. If someone comes and posts der interrogatory inventory statements and calls for actions which can one way or the other damage the public safety, that is the government what should do take some action. I don't understand why you smiling because it was in the United States and I know it is personally it was very much in the press that there were a couple of cases when young men posted announcement, kind of announcement he is going to come to school and kill this one and that one, his teacher. He was arrested. Many cases. In Europe, take what happened in London, the Facebook forced --
>> MODERATOR: Could we please? We are running out of time.
>> AUDIENCE: No, I don't understand this approach when they try to single out the country. Okay.
>> AUDIENCE: I'm telling you, go and single out other countries where it is very close.
>> MODERATOR: Okay, guys.
>> AUDIENCE: My statement for you --
>> MODERATOR: We go for coffee afterwards --
>> AUDIENCE: Don't damage the reputation of the country we respect.
>> MODERATOR: Gentlemen, we don't have much time. Slava has the floor. Would you be so kind? Slava is waiting to talk for awhile.
>> AUDIENCE: Madam Chair, thank you very much. My name is Slava Cvijetic from New York, United Nations, and I have a few comments if you don't mind very briefly.
>> MODERATOR: Sure.
>> AUDIENCE: I used to work for DPI, Department of Public Information. I'm talking like media. We have a joke. If a dog bites a man, it is not news. But if man bites the dog, this is big news.
What I am talking about so that for the many years, we also tried to bring media and bring the issue of Internet Governance to media. I believe so that what we are missing in our relationship with media so that we just let them know like regular media alert. It is not interesting for media. So I believe maybe what is recommended especially on the regional national level just to have some discussion with the media chiefs and the heads of the organisations to see what kind of interest, what kind of information they would like to get in advance because I'm pretty much sure there is a number of the workshop and the number of the discussion that might be interesting for them.
But given that they have no idea besides general statement about what is IGF forum or what is national forum agenda is, they don't have this specifics so that they can really pay attention to this.
Second one in terms of this project initiative. So that my, I would say comment that we need to preserve these fundamentals of the Internet so that to prevent is defragmentation. In this respect I believe so that this is a true type of things. The first one is technology. As much as possible we provide this infrastructure and try to connect that all the countries together is extremely important initiative. So that indeed it helps countries to work together.
On the other hand, of course all that we have these comments so that it should not create the defragmentation of the Internet. And with this respect, the second element as we call the content because actually the hardware is the hardware. So but what is the Internet famous is the content. So the floor of the content, the freedom of the content, the developing of the content and as well as the change of the content. This is extremely important element and I believe so that given the project and stage formulation so that this issue taken into consideration and of course so that given that Internet governance is a unique as multistakeholder platform, that we feel that the future step of the project implementation to be done in this consensus of the discussion by various stakeholders.
Just only one last comment which I would also like to talk about the procedurals of the Internet Governance Forum itself. So what I would like to bring to the attention to all participants, that we have long and very successful story of the Internet Governance Forum all around the world based on the fundamental issue of their respect, dignity to the participants and as well the multistakeholder platform.
So that it will be very much appreciated if the participants know that all the forums will respect each other and follow these fundamental agreement which is what created this successful platform. And refrain from the accusing especially with the names, you know, with the specific organisations because all of that we consider that the success of this forum was based on the bringing the issues, not bringing the names on the table. And this is what is actually demonstrating the acceptance of the international community at all levels and also drive this international forum forward with more and more respect and with more and more participation.
So therefore, I just really would like to appreciate that not only this year but in the future so that the dignity respect and not converting this forum into the political criticism and mutual accusations. So that I very much appreciate that these fundamental principle will be awarded. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: We will prevail. Thank you, Slava. I think we have to wrap up. If it is short, that's okay. Would you go ahead?
>> AUDIENCE: Thank you, Madam Chair. It might not be short but important.
>> MODERATOR: I have no doubt. I just meant not long because we have to leave the room.
>> AUDIENCE: Thank you. I wanted to say that if we lose focus, then Azerbaijan is not going to benefit from our presence here. There are many ways of handling issues. My approach has always been acknowledging what is working while -- I mean, my take off from what is working, celebrating the wins as well as acknowledging the gaps. For me I think it is important that we focus. We take the history of Azerbaijan and see a lot of things which are positive an those positive things will give us energy to move forward.
If we assume that nothing is working, the approach will be different. But at the same time if we know what is working and take off from there it will give us the energy to move forward at the same time acknowledging the gaps that exist. The title itself is important. It says Internet as engine for regional growth. Things can be addressed in the forums such as how do we want the Internet to benefit the regional and everything.
>> MODERATOR: Please forgive my limited English. I never meant that your comment was not important. I meant that we needed to be aware of the time.
>> VASIF MAMMADOV: Should I make a final comment? Thank you all for your comments as well as for participation.
I want to wrap up because we have to head to a closing ceremony if I'm not mistaken. Starting with the thing that, what was the focus of the Open Forum today, first of all Open Forum is different from the workshop. We don't have specific agent or title. It is all of us talking about several issues from the perspective of the one stand. I hope we succeed actually in our point.
Regarding all of wrapping up I'm quite sure if you ask other participants here like Jonathan from Argentina who is a brilliant guy and Kasim, they have this problem. Every country has this problem in the Internet. Nobody is perfect as Leonid mentioned. There is no perfection to reach at all because no one can define it. In the case going back to the issue, I would like to actually prompt this discussion in the next several months and what is going to be conducted during the national Internet Governance Forum. We are going to have discussions there. This is a point that should be discussed in national forums. The Asian and African participants here are more aware. Therefore, taking the last chance I would like to invite you all, you all have the books, we already have some left on the table so you can, you are most welcome to take them. It has the comprehensive information in the Internet Governance Forum in December in the first week as well as to the cybersecurity conference of the U.N. Plus we had a workshop on eParticipation and as well as all in all to invite you all to Azerbaijan.
Thank you, Chair. Thank you, everyone, for your participation.
>> VASIF MAMMADOV: Hope to see you soon.
>> MODERATOR: I would like to make a final comment. In this beautiful brochure there is the beauty of this session and the project. The first stage of the project, more than 6,000 interconnections through fiber. In the second stage, almost 20,000-kilometers. That is the beauty. That will change the life of hundreds of millions of people.
Thank you very much for being with us today. Thank you very much.
(The session concluded at 10:45 a.m.)
This text is being provided in a rough draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings.