Spring 1997 (5.1)
Oil Contracts Won't Count If the Refugee Problem Is Not Solved
My hopes for Azerbaijan are to see my country strong, independent and rich. More realistically for the present, I want it to be stable. During the previous years, some people alleging themselves to be politicians used the collapse of the USSR merely for their own self-aggrandizement. As a result, we lost our lands which we will not be able to reclaim in the near future.
Our main resolve must be to solve the Karabakh problem and arrange for the refugees to return to their lands. It is difficult to see that our country will genuinely benefit from the oil contracts unless this problem is solved - unless there are no refugees.
Student, University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan
The Gift of Self-Confidence
Last year, I was privileged to be one of the few students chosen from more than 1,000 applicants to receive a Freedom Support Act Scholarship from the U.S. government to study for one year in an American high school. I had the most unforgettable time of my life. I'll always remember that year as the sweetest dream, a fairy tale that happened in my life by mere chance.
But if someone asked me if I would like to go back to the U.S., I would hesitate. It's not because I wouldn't want to go. I would return with great pleasure if I had the chance. And it's not because I just want to run away from the endless problems in my own country. I would return to the States simply because I realize that there is much more that I could learn and bring back with me.
Perhaps before, I could have imagined myself staying forever in the U.S., but not now. Since my return, I've started to believe in myself, my friends, and all our youth, and that's the greatest gift the U.S. could ever have given me. Now I see that my country needs us, and we cannot leave. I'm convinced that if we all put our efforts together to do something now, our lives will be changed for the better in the future.
Student, Western University
What Will Our Future Be?
If you were to ask me about the future of my country, I would tell you that it will flourish. I'm an optimist by nature, and I believe that Azerbaijan has not fully realized its potential. But we're off to a good start. Azerbaijan has great natural resources, a strategic geo-political position, and talented, kind, open-hearted people.
In four or five years, the income from oil extraction and processing will become evident at various levels in our society. The standard of living will increase, and unemployment will not threaten us as it does today.
Besides, there will be money to reinvest in other fields of the economy. Political strength will come with economic strength, and the national identity of Azerbaijanis will become stronger. Azerbaijanis living all over the world will become proud of who they are. The national identity that is so passive now will awaken. More than 1 million Azerbaijanis living abroad (except those in Iran) will consolidate around the country. The war with Armenia will end, and our territories under their occupation will be returned to us-however difficult that process might be.
These dreams can become reality. Maybe 10 years is not enough, but it can happen. I love my country and my nation. I think that at this difficult moment in our country, every citizen must work and contribute to our development. To leave the country and search for one's fortune abroad when there is so much to do here is equal to treason, in my opinion.
There are dangers that we must guard against, however. We must not allow national chauvinism to take root as it has in some of the oil-rich Arab countries. Other resources such as agriculture and manufacturing must be developed; our focus cannot be only on oil. We must not allow dollars generated from oil production to spoil us as a nation and change our attitude toward work, making us lazy.
There is also the possibility that much of the capital will become concentrated in the hands of a narrow circle of people who will grow to be extremely rich while the rest of us live in poverty. This, in turn, could eventually lead to social conflicts and threaten stability within our country.
And finally, we must maintain good relations with all our neighbors so that our great resources and potential do not transform our land into a bloody region as a result of conflicts between different super states vying for our wealth.
Student, Western University
Azerbaijani Music on Voyager Spacecraft
I was exploring the internet for information about items accompanying the Voyager spacecraft launched by the U.S. in 1977. That's when I discovered Azerbaijan International's Web site and the very interesting article, "In Search of Extraterrestrials-Azerbaijani Music Selected for Voyager Spacecraft" by Anne Kressler [AI 2.2, page 24].
The article mentions that the spacecraft capsule contains 90 minutes of some of the world's best music, greetings in 55 different languages and an essay of 118 digitized photographs showing what man looks like and some of the things he has achieved. You might be interested to know that it is possible to see some of these items (but not listen to the music) on the Voyager Record's Web site <http://vraptor.jpl.nasa.gov/voyager/record.html>.
Azerbaijani Refugees: Can We Help?
I agree wholeheartedly that politics, the war and health problems are all intertwined [see AI 4.3, Letters to the Editor]. The refugee situation is so tragic, and the average person like myself feels totally helpless to get involved since there are so many needs.
On TV in New Zealand, we often see advertisements about helping the plight of poor children in various parts of the world. Some organizations encourage the "adoption" of a child by contributing $30 every month (a dollar a day) for food, clothing and education. I know many ordinary people who do this and receive a letter from "their" child every six months, in return.
Are there any programs like this to help us get involved with refugees in Azerbaijan? We share the grief and exasperation of the refugees, as far as it is humanly possible for us to comprehend, not having ourselves experienced such loss.
Wellington, New Zealand
Editor: In this issue, many of the international humanitarian organizations working in Azerbaijan describe their work. Many of them depend on contributions from the private and corporate community. Contact them directly.
Not from Russia!
I'm a high school exchange student in the U.S., and I really enjoy your magazine. It makes me feel proud to be an Azerbaijani. Before reading Azerbaijan International, I didn't realize our culture was so interesting.
At my school, I am trying to acquaint American people - my friends and teachers - about Azerbaijan. I know it won't surprise you to find out how little they know. Usually our conversation runs something like this:
"Where are you from?"
And then I have to explain that the Soviet Union was made up of 15 republics, and Azerbaijan was one of them.
"Oh, so you're from Russia," they conclude.
"No, I'm Azerbaijani."
No matter how hard I try to explain, some people can't comprehend that the USSR was more than Russia. Sometimes their ignorance makes me mad. We're independent now. We're from Azerbaijan!
Work of Art
I would like to express my deepest gratitude for the lovely issues of Azerbaijan International. I believe your publication is the most comprehensive source of information regarding Azerbaijan available in the international arena. I can appreciate that publishing such a highly professional magazine takes a great effort, not to mention an element of love to give it that special touch.
The reason for this e-mail is to correct my address in your records, but I couldn't help thanking you for your wonderful work of art.
What's in a Name!
I was delighted to see the article on Azerbaijani names [AI 4.3, "History in a Nutshell: 20th Century Personal Naming Practices in Azerbaijan"]. It was very well-researched and well-written and contributes a great deal to our understanding of names in a part of the world that has long been neglected in regard to such research. I look forward to seeing more such articles.
Editor of "NAMES: A Journal of Onomastics"
Northern Illinois University
International Women's Day in Azerbaijan
Greetings on the 8th of March which we celebrate in Azerbaijan as International Women's Day. Perhaps, this holiday is not a big deal in the States, but here it's a very important day. Men must greet all the women they know and wish them the best.
- Therefore, I wish you all the success in your personal and business life. I wish for Azerbaijan International to grow and for you to be proud and blessed with compliments for your work. Please, pass my regards to all of your female staff and let them know that women are really the reason for men's existence and men's success!
Vusal H. Rajabli
Future Belongs to the Youth
It was my very good fortune to spend two months in Baku with my wife's family during this past summer. Their generosity and graciousness knew no bounds as they revealed the true meaning of traditional Azeri hospitality. It was a refreshing change from my daily life in the U.S.
One encounter from my time in Baku remains particularly vivid in my memory. One day while exploring the city with Saida, my wife, she suddenly developed a problem with one of her shoes. Luck was with us as we happened upon a repair shop almost immediately.
The tiny shop barely provided sufficient room for the shoe repairman, his tools and two customers. He was an amiable, stocky gentleman in his late forties who went straight to work on the shoe, chatting as he worked.
When nearly finished, he asked, "What does he (meaning me) do?"
"He's a professor," she responded.
"Are professors doing well in America?" he asked.
"Yes, I'd say so," she replied.
"Ah, it used to be that way here, too," he continued. "We used to think when someone said, 'I'm a professor,' that this was a learned person who had knowledge and something important to offer-something to tell us about ourselves. These days," he sighed, "the dollar is our professor."
With the shoe repaired, we descended into the Metro tunnels and headed home. I thought long and hard about the cobbler's comments, and the more I pondered, the more insightful they appeared. In one short statement, he had encapsulated the feelings of other Azerbaijanis I'd talked with about the transformations taking place in their lives and the difficulties they face in finding new directions for themselves within their changing country.
Change is the key word. Whether young or old, change seems to be everybody's experience in today's Azerbaijan, and because of that, there are Azerbaijanis who wax philosophical about the topic of change. As my astute father-in-law observed, "When it comes to entire societies, rapid change is an illusion, since 'real' changes never occur quickly. The real changes we need in Azerbaijan will take at least a generation. This means the future belongs to the youth, to those who will know only an independent Azerbaijan."
Professor, Westminster College
Salt Lake City, Utah
Aziza's Music on the Web
Thanks so much for the beautiful Azerbaijani music on your Web site that came just in time for Noruz. It brought back memories of long, long ago. I especially liked the music of Aziza [Mustafa Zadeh], Rashid [Behbudov], and mugam that is on the Voyager spacecraft hurtling through outer space.
I remember Aziza from long ago when I lived in Baku. She was such a tiny sweetheart-her daddy's girl. Now look at her-all grown up and famous, playing jazz in the same style as her father. She is so expressive.
Her father Vagif and I were very good friends. But communism was not good for all of Baku's musicians. It was very hard to play jazz there, and a lot of us just moved on to different places. Vagif stayed. We were all so saddened by his sudden death [in 1979]. Nevertheless, he lives on with us today and with every musician from Baku who knew him.
You promised that you would include some of Vagif's music on the Web. If you have it, could you please include it? I miss my friend dearly.
From Azerbaijan International (5.1) Spring 1997.
© Azerbaijan International 1997. All rights reserved.