September 1993 (1.3)
Independence: The Right to Tell the World About Our Problems
I study in the Preparatory Courses of Khazar University in the Translator's Group. I'm 16 years old. I'm really too young to analyze transitions from a soviet republic to an independent republic-its challenges and changes--because during the past 7-8 years of my school education, I was told that the Soviet Union was the strongest government in the world and Russia was the elder brother and leader of Azerbaijan, and all people lived a happy life without any problems, and we had only to be afraid of America.
But beginning in 1989 when I began to attend little by little the meetings of Independence in "Azadlig" Square (formerly known as Lenin Square); when I saw for the frst time with my own eyes (I was 14 then), the victims of bloody January killed by Russian troops (January 20, 1990); when my close friend Samir died in the Karabakh war and I buried him in Shahidlar Khiyabany (Cemetery in Baku set aside for casualties of Bloody January and the Nagorno-Karabakh confict); when my people began to speak their own language with a new alphabet; when for the frst time in Khazar University, I was taught Azerbaijan literature and I was able to know the great (poets) Nizami, Fizuli, and Nasimi (I had always studied Russian literature in my Russian school before), then I began to understand that great changes were beginning to happen in my Republic.
A year ago, I met a pastor from Finland and another from Texas. I invited them to my house. Can you believe? They opened a Bible school in Baku. They gave me a Bible in Azeri printed in Norway. The old people were surprised and told me that had this happened fve years earlier, I wouldn't have been able to speak to foreigners and share our problems openly. We had to say that our life was splendid back then.
On the 9th of June, 1993, I saw for the frst time in my life, "Azerbaijan International". It was presented by the Executive Editor of this magazine to the Chancellor of Khazar University, Professor Hamlet Issakhanly. I was too much excited. Imagine she had come to Baku-thousands of kilometres-- to give this magazine to our university and to encourage us to study and work hard at our English. We were eager to listen and to remember all her words.
Words fail to express my feelings. Could this have happened even a few years earlier? I think it would have been impossible.
At last the "ice has been broken" and the world has begun to make friends with us, to know about my Azerbaijan, its troubles and problems. This is real independence for my people and my Republic. With best wishes,
Baku, June 9, 1993
(Letter in English)
Complex Historical and Cultural Issues Addressed with Sensitivity and Care
First of all, I would like to compliment you and your staff for the journal's professional appearance, but that I suspect is the easiest aspect of your task.
At a glance, the journal appears to be a remarkable and reliable source of information on an important yet insuffciently understood new country. As such, Azerbaijan International is a welcome addition to our efforts at understanding the new world order, and can become even more crucial to us as it attempts to respond to an increasing need to better comprehend the complex issue of the regions freed from Soviet rule.
I would like also to compliment you on the care with which you seem to address complex cultural issues. I see this in every aspect of your journal, from the delicate way in which you present the Armenian-Azeri confict to the whole gamut of sensitive historical and cultural problems of the relationship between the people of the two entities known as Azerbaijan (North and South) as well as those between Persian-Iranians and Azeri-Iranians.
I see it as your main challenge in the future to steer free of alienating polemics on matters of history and culture as you go about the much-needed work of dissemination information about Azerbaijan to a readership unconsciously conditioned to a biased reading of cultural matrices. I wish you continued success with your endeavor.
August 9, 1993
Persian Language and Literature and Iranian Culture and Civilization
University of Washington at Seattle
(Letter in English)