Baku, Azerbaijan, Sept. 11
By Leman Zeynalova - Trend:
There is not much talk about tolerance in Azerbaijan, yet a lot gets done in this regard, as was stated by Russian journalist, writer, and editor-in-chief of Russia's Evening Moscow (Vechernyaya Moskva) newspaper Alexander Kupriyanov, who has visited Azerbaijan several times, in an interview with Trend.
Speaking about his visits to Baku, Alexander Kupriyanov expressed admiration for the capital of Azerbaijan and the kindness of the locals.
"It so happened that in Soviet times I was in Baku. I traveled from Komsomolskaya Pravda [a Soviet and Russian newspaper] as a correspondent on business trips. To me, Baku has always seemed to be such a “southern” and somewhat carefree city. The sea was nearby. I liked that you could eat and drink everywhere. But maybe I just did not notice anything peculiar back then. After almost 20 years, Polad Bulbuloglu, the ambassador who worked for many years as the Minister of Culture of Azerbaijan, invited me to an international conference on multiculturalism. Azerbaijan is actively engaged in this topic. And then I was just amazed - I came to a completely different city. It was no longer a coastal city, but a sunny, bright city with new buildings. I thought it looked like Dubai,” Kupriyanov said.
Kupriyanov also spoke about his trip to Azerbaijan's Gabala.
"Well, of course, Gabala is an amazing place with a unique nature. A very generous land for harvest with a lot of scenic spots. And, of course, here I must mention the amazing people I met there - all of them were very hospitable and sincere. Unfortunately, I did not stay there for long, and I would love to return there," he said.
Moreover, he highlighted the traditions of multiculturalism in Azerbaijan.
"You know, when the topic of tolerance is being touched on by, let's say, our Western partners, and when they talk about how the world has changed – that is one thing. There is not much talk about tolerance in Azerbaijan, yet a lot gets done in this regard. What is labeled with such a fashionable word – “multiculturalism" – exists there in different types and situations. Indeed, people not just of different nationalities, but of different faiths, live there side by side. And they get along with each other there, go to visit each other, spend time together,” he said.
“While it is clear that such values exist on the level of the common folk, there also exists a state policy, with multiculturalism at its foundation. Much is being done in this area in the artistic field: exhibitions, concerts. For example, concerts of open air symphonic music. It is wonderful. In other words, you can see the real manifestations of this mixing of cultures, in the best sense of the word, people do not throw around words – they just get things done,” he added.
Kupriyanov also touched on how he saw Azerbaijan in an era of global change in the international arena.
"I talked with ordinary people - not with government officials, but with those who work hard, who carry people in cars, with drivers, electricians. There exists such a thing known as the ‘petrodollar’. Azerbaijan, as is known, is a country that produces oil. And these men with whom I spoke, say: The petrodollar works for us. It is being invested. It plays a role in the politics every day. It did not go anywhere."
"One thing struck me: there were old houses somewhere in Gabala, I think, where people were digging the ground, planting hazelnuts or walnuts. A house gets demolished, a cottage is built in its place, land is given to the owner with an obligation of cultivating it, the owner moves in this house for free, where he gains access to modern communications and the opportunity to work. That is how petrodollars work - that is how those ordinary people explained it to me. I will not go to the building of the administration to demand that they show me the income - nobody will let me in there, and I am not an investigator to work on this to begin with, but people say that the funds the country earns are invested in business, and this, I think, is very important," he said.