Interview to “Milli Majlis” Magazine

Azerbaijan’s First Lady, President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Mehriban Aliyeva gave an interview to “Milli Majlis” Magazine on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation’s establishment.

- The Heydar Aliyev Foundation has made special contribution to Azerbaijan’s rapid development, day-by-day change of its imageand having its worthy place among the influential states of the world. Looking back at the 10 years elapsed since the Foundation’s establishment, how successful has, in Your opinion, the Foundation been in achieving the goal it had set?

- Every citizen of our country has witnessed the great changes of the recent years in our country. Although Azerbaijan is a young country in terms of independence, we have reached great achievements in a short historical time span. Reforms carried out under President Ilham Aliyev’s leadership, state programs and large-scale infrastructure projects covering different areas have turned Azerbaijan into a strong and democratic state with dynamic development. All conditions have been created in the country towards improving the people’s wellbeing, meeting their social needs, progress of science and culture, and ensuring citizens’ rights and freedoms.

Independent Azerbaijan is integrating into the world society; our country is successfully represented in a number of influential international organizations.

Upon embarking on our activities in 2004, the Heydar Aliyev Foundation set a single goal for itself – to serve our people, our Homeland. At the very beginning of our activities, we started to implement large-scale projects, being deeply involved in all areas of the country’s public and political life. Regardless of our activities’ multilateral nature, we have defined the priority directions and tried to closely participate in solution of issues requiring more attention.
No doubt, first of all, we started implementation of projects and programs aiming to help theneediest strata of the society – children deprived of parental care, refugees and IDPs, the elderly and children suffering from various diseases.

The outcomes of the projects implemented by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation are obvious. These are hundreds of school buildings built to serve improvement of education conditions for over a hundred thousand pupils, showing care and attention to children deprived of parental care, construction of new medical establishments provided with state-of-the-art equipment, supporting young talents, restoration of historical monuments, promotion of our ancient   culture and art and, finally, introducing Azerbaijan as a secular country with traditions of tolerance preserved for centuries.

Carrying out its activities relying on humanistic ideals, the Heydar Aliyev Foundation has always given its helping hand to those in need, both in Azerbaijan and foreign countries. The biggest outcome of our practical works aiming to serve people is winning their trust and respect. As years go by, as we encounter new ideas and plans, our goals change in their nature, yet the main objective – serving the people of Azerbaijan – remains unchanged.

- You have created the image of a modern Azerbaijani woman, having broken all stereotypes by Your humanism and practical work. How do You assess an Azerbaijani woman’s role in the society?

- On each page of our ancient and rich history, we see bright examples of the Azerbaijani woman’s wisdom and heroism. Women have always shown high professionalism and selflessness in enlightening of population, building our economy, promoting our culture and preserving national moral values. The fact that an Azerbaijani woman has gained a right to elect and be elected before women in many other countries were given this chance, and being the first in culture, art and other areas of science is an obvious sign of an Azerbaijani woman’s efficiency and intellectual potential.

In the contemporary world, gender equality is one of the basic priorities of a democratic society’s development and protection of human rights. Azerbaijan’s state policy associated with gender issues aims at ensuring equal opportunities for women. High respect for women in our society, stability and democratic environment in the country ensure all necessary conditions for them to realize their knowledge and abilities in various areas.

Today, an Azerbaijani woman is active in all areas. An Azerbaijani woman has a say in everything and can freely express her position. It is a rejoicing fact that, as in all the periods of our history, in the contemporary time too, women have made their contribution to preservation of our national moral values and cultural image, building a civil society by being an active participant of public and political, social and economic, scientific and cultural processes, formation of intercultural dialogues, and ensuring Azerbaijan’s progress.

- Today,with its tradition of tolerance,Azerbaijan may be cited as an example to the whole world. What kind of contributions has the Heydar Aliyev Foundation made to preservation of the traditions of tolerance?

- With domination of traditional friendship and brotherhood relations and tolerance, the Azerbaijani society is our achievement, and this factor has become the norm of our public and political life. Democratic environment has been ensured for different nations living in our country to preserve their national moral values, religious belief, and traditions, and develop their language and culture. Regardless of language, religion and ethnic relationship, all citizens of Azerbaijan have basic human rights and freedoms.It is a rejoicing fact that Azerbaijan is considered an example of tolerance for the world countries, and a number of states try to benefit from our experience.

By every project, the Heydar Aliyev Foundation tries to make its contribution to the establishment of humanistic values such as humanism, solidarity and tolerance between different nations. Within the framework of the project “Azerbaijan: Address of Tolerance”, which is being successfully implemented by the Foundation, repair and reconstruction works are carried out on mosques, churches and synagogues in the country. Commissioning of an education complex for Jewish children in Baku, our participation in restoration of churches in regions of France, Roman catacombs, erection of a monument to Saint Vladimir in Astrakhan serve to strengthening of mutual respect and friendly relations between peoples and confessions.

- Improvement of the population’s cultural development has always been the focus of attention of Mister Ilham Aliyev, the Head of the State of Azerbaijan. What can You say about the Heydar Aliyev Foundation’s activities in this regard?

- Looking at any sphere of our culture, we see our rich cultural heritage. Azerbaijani people are very much tied to its cultural and historical heritage. Contemporary state of Azerbaijan has been built on solid moral bases such as literature, music, art, historical monuments, and our native Azerbaijani language.

The Gobustan State History and Art Reserve, Icherisheher, Maiden Tower, the Shirvanshahlar Palace Complex have been entered on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List; Azerbaijani mugham, the ashyg art, carpet making art, the art of making and playing tar, as well as Novruz Bayram have been entered on UNESCO’s Representative List of the World’s Intangible Cultural Heritage. We consider this as the highest appreciation of our culture.

A great deal of workhas been done in Azerbaijan in the cultural field. All cultural establishments in the country undergo repairand restoration. New museums and theatres are built, and previously built cultural infrastructure is renewed and modernized.

The Heydar Aliyev Foundation has been active in preservation of our cultural heritage. Construction of the International Mugham Centre and holding of the first International Mugham Festival in Azerbaijan has been organized by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation. The Gabala International Music Festival, the Mstislav Rostropovich International Music Festival, international festivals devoted to jubilees of world-renowned musicians  Uzeir Hajibeyli, Bulbul, Dmitri Shostakovich and Chopin have contributed to the strengthening of dialogue between cultures, creating opportunities to musicians representing various countries for intercourse and cooperation.

I would like to emphasize the creation of the Modern Art Museum and works done towards promotion of Azerbaijan’s modern art. Over a hundred works in different genres have been demonstrated within the framework of the exhibition “Flight to Baku. Contemporary Art of Azerbaijan” organized in a number of world countries. The Foundation attaches special importance to introducing examples of the world culture to the Azerbaijani audience. During these years, exhibitions of a number of artists have been organized in Baku. Exceeding the boundaries of the country, the Maiden Tower International Art Festival being held by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation has aroused much interest in the public.

Historico-cultural heritage requires regular care. I’ve repeatedly mentioned that any lost material value is indispensable and this is a crime against future generations. Therefore, we have been doing our best, both in the country and abroad, to preserve our cultural heritage. The Heydar Aliyev Foundation has provided support to restoration of historical monuments in the Versailles Palace’s park, the Louvre Museum, Berlin Castle demolished during the World War II, medieval Azerbaijani manuscripts being preserved in Vatican’s archives, and Philosophers Hall of the Capitoline Museum.

- The Heydar Aliyev Foundation has been implementing big and successful projects in order to convey the truth about Azerbaijan. Especially, after Vice-president of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and head of the Russian Representative Office Leyla Aliyeva launched her campaign “Justice for Khojaly”, calling upon the world about Azerbaijani people’s tragedy, a number of states and influential international organizations have recognized the Khojaly Tragedy. What factors lie on the basis of this campaign’s being so successful?

- Conveying the historical truth about Azerbaijan, including the Armenia-Azerbaijan, Daghlyg Garabagh conflict, the Khojaly tragedy – recognized as one of the most terrible genocide of the 20th century and an international crime, the damage caused to our country as a result of the conflict, and the true essence of the barbarism committed in the occupied territories are among the pivotal goals of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation.

Occupation of the 20 per cent of our lands, over a million of refugees and IDPs in the country is the hard truth based on facts. The Heydar Aliyev Foundation has been consistently working to convey the truth about the conflict and genocide policy pursued against Azerbaijanis to world parliaments and international society. For these purpose, events are held in foreign countries, exhibitions organized and booklets and books printed in various languages.

Unfortunately, our people have for centuries faced such cases of injustice. With a view to conveying territorial claims and aggression policy of Armenian nationalists against Azerbaijan, and their bloody crimes to the world society, to preserve the future generations’ national memory and eternalize genocide victims, the Genocide Memorial Complex was created in the town of Guba.

Our objective was to convey the truth about Azerbaijan to the world society and unmask the crafty Armenian propaganda. The main reason that “Justice for Khojaly” has beensuccessfully held in a number of countries is that this historical truth has been recognized by the world society.

- What can You say regarding the 1st European Games to be hosted by Azerbaijan in 2015?

- The fact that the first European Games will be held in Baku is a historical event for our country and, in general, for the European Olympic movement. Azerbaijan’s rapid development, its position in the world society, existing public and political stability have assured the international society that our country can successfully host this grandiose event. The decision to hold these Games in Baku is the high appreciation of numerous sports competitions and European and world championships that we have held at the highest level, achievements made by our sportsmen in international competitions and, in general, the works done in Azerbaijan in the sphere of sport by the International and European Olympic committees.

Numerous events associated with preparation for these respected competitions are being held at the highest level. A delegation from the European Olympic Committee makes regular trips to Azerbaijan and gets acquainted with the works done, and the First European Games Coordination Committee regularly holds meetings and discusses the works done.

Today’s pace and level of the construction works on the Water Sport Types Palace, Baku Equestrian Centre, Baku Olympic Stadium and other projects, and reconstruction works on the existing sports objects suggests that preparation works will be completed on time. The National Gymnastics Arena has already been commissioned.

We have been working on the development of a village of Athletes, which is expected to be one of the   best reception and preparation facilities. Ensuring safety, accommodation of guests and sportsmen, creation of necessary conditions for mass media representatives, organization of broadcasting, building logistics and other matters are under constant attention of the Organizing Committee.

Azerbaijan is determined to hold the 1st European Games at the Summer Olympic Games level. Our country has repeatedly hosted world and European championships on a number of sports types. Both our guests and specialists have always confirmed that the events were held at the highest level. I believe everyone who comes to our country within the framework of the 1st European Games - to be written in the Olympic movement history as one of the best games - will witness the beauty of Baku - a city rich in historical traces - and hospitality of city residents.

Ulviyya Abdullayeva

Chief Editor of “Milli Majlis” Magazine