Azerbaijan International

Winter 1997 (5.4)
Pages 17-19

5th Jubilee of Azerbaijan International
President Heydar Aliyev's Speech

On November 20, 1997, Azerbaijan International celebrated its Fifth Jubilee at the Akhundov National State Library in Baku with an exhibition of our magazines and our most recent publication "Global Horizons: President Aliyev's Visit to the USA." President Heydar Aliyev addressed about 200 special guests including the Speaker of Parliament Mortuz Alaskarov, Prime Minister Artur Razizade, Minister of Culture Polad Bulbul, various cabinet members, parliament members, international diplomats and representatives of international businesses. Other speeches were given by Fatima Abdullazade, the Director of Humanitarian and Cultural Affairs of the President's Aparat; Betty Blair, Editor of Azerbaijan International and Tom Klockenbrink, President of NAOC (North Absheron Operating Company). The event was televised in its entirety that evening as well as on the following day.

 Azerbaijan International's 5th jubilee, President of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev, Betty Blair, Pirouz Khanlou, Mazahir Panahov  Azerbaijan International's 5th jubilee, President of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev, Betty Blair, Pirouz Khanlou, Mazahir Panahov
Left: Betty Blair, Editor of Azerbaijan International, presents President Heydar Aliyev with the new book, "Global Horizons: President Aliyev's Visit to the USA." Murtuz Alasgarov, Speaker of the Parliament (left) looks on. The event took place at the Akhundov National Library on the occasion of Azerbaijan International's Fifth Jubilee, November 20, 1997.

Right: At the Jubilee (left to right) President Aliyev, Betty Blair, Pirouz Khanlou (Publisher) and directly behind him, the magazine's Baku Manager, Mazahir Panahov.

President Aliyev's speech (edited transcript)
This ceremony today is dedicated to the fifth anniversary of Azerbaijan International magazine. During these past few years, it has become a tradition in our country to organize a presentation whenever someone publishes a book or the first issue of a magazine. Well, Azerbaijan International was born five years ago, and there has yet to be any presentation. But during those five years, they have expanded their activities and raised the magazine to a very high standard. It's time to give credit to their achievements.

Azerbaijan International magazine is a rare example in the life of independent Azerbaijan. Our people have always tried to introduce their achievements, their culture, traditions and art to the world. It's essential that we always value intellectual work in Azerbaijan.

Despite our efforts, very few people knew about our country prior to our independence. But even this legal, political act has not made Azerbaijan known around the world as much as we have desired. For this to happen, we must work consistently and tirelessly. We must work in all spheres. Our statesmen, public and private organizations, cultural workers, scientists-all of us-must make Azerbaijan known to the world. We must speak about the just cause of Azerbaijan in every corner of the globe. It is especially important these days because Armenia has encroached on our territory. Supporters of Armenia and the Armenian Diaspora are very strong throughout the world.

In spite of the fact that Armenians occupy 20 percent of Azerbaijan's land and in spite of the fact that they have forced 1 million innocent people to flee their homes, Armenians always denounce Azerbaijan and spread lies throughout the world. They slander Azerbaijan everywhere. Unfortunately, we have not been able to counter their propaganda, and they have succeeded in achieving their goals. This only complicates our situation.

Let me mention that during these past few years considerable effort has been made to acquaint the world with Azerbaijan. First of all, our foreign policy has pioneered in this sphere by steadily developing close relations and cooperation with foreign countries. Our information organizations, public organizations, Writers' Union, Composers' Union, various scientific organizations, the Academy of Sciences and others have done an incredible work in this regard. But this is not enough. We still need to work very hard. We must make a great effort so that people everywhere in the world will know our country, so that they will hear the truth and know our history and the achievements and contributions of our people.

Another reason we need to work very hard is that we also have internal enemies-powers which oppose us and who, for their personal benefits, are trying to stain Azerbaijan. They try to spread lies about Azerbaijan which cast a shadow on the realities of our country.

Uniqueness of Azerbaijan International
In this respect, special words must be said about Azerbaijan International. Categorically, we must acknowledge that among the publications which are being produced in different countries, no other publication has been able to describe the situation of Azerbaijan so accurately, so completely, so optimistically and so attractively.

It is interesting that neither our state organizations nor our social organizations have created this magazine. The creators of this magazine are people who love Azerbaijan. They are friends of Azerbaijan who genuinely care about our country. This publication is the brainchild of two people-Betty Blair and Pirouz Khanlou. One of them is American, the other is Azeri. Through their personal initiative and selfless labor, they have created this magazine which has attained an incredibly high standard. I greatly value their initiative and the work they have done these past five years. I respect their attitude towards Azerbaijan, their friendship and the enormous efforts that they have made for our country.

This magazine proves that when people are committed from the bottom of their hearts, and when they really care about what they're doing, they can achieve their goals. There are so many publications and social organizations in Azerbaijan. We have so many newspapers, magazines and books. But which of them can be compared to Azerbaijan International? Who can bring their publication and show that theirs is equal to Azerbaijan International? No one can. If there are any, please come and show us.

The creation of this magazine, its existence and the level to which it has achieved, pleases me very much. It shows what human beings are capable of. And it proves that the publication offices in Azerbaijan which have a large staff and work out of large buildings are not meeting up to their potential.

Today, we compared the first issue of Azerbaijan International with the most recent issue. I have been receiving and reading each issue of this magazine since 1993 and have observed how the quality has improved, how the number of its pages have increased and how the topics have broadened.

Mrs. Blair and Mr. Khanlou are very committed to their work. But at the same time, they are very close friends of Azerbaijan; they are committed to the truth about Azerbaijan and are faithful in presenting the contemporary life of the Azerbaijani people. That's why I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart.

Their publication can compete with some of the most well-known and esteemed magazines in the world. During the Soviet period, there was a magazine called "America." Only a few people in the Soviet Union were allowed to subscribe to it. I remember they used to make a list of people in the Azerbaijan government and decide which people were eligible to receive it. People who succeeded in getting a copy were very happy even though most of them weren't able to read or understand it. "America" was a very attractive magazine and had interesting, colorful pictures describing America's life. As you recall, we didn't know as much about America then as we do now. I remember this magazine very well.

But now, I challenge the people who were so eager to receive "America" back then to go to the archives and find copies and compare it to Azerbaijan International. You'll discover that Azerbaijan International magazine has achieved a much higher standard than "America" ever did.

Inside the Covers - Content
But the value of Azerbaijan International is not just in its outward appearance. The reason why I highly value this magazine is because of its contents. This magazine reflects Azerbaijan's history, culture, contemporary life, its famous people and its creative works. Sometimes, they write about things that we don't even know about or have forgotten. They design these pages with love, talent and proficiency.

A few weeks ago in this same building, we had a presentation of a photo book which depicted the lives of our refugees. Unfortunately, up until then, we had never had such a book. But its publication came too late. It should be noted that Azerbaijan International had already dedicated two entire issues to the refugee problem [AI 2.2, Spring 1994 and AI 5.1, Spring 1997] in which they included meaningful, touching, sensitive photos. Everyone who reads those issues can begin to comprehend the great problem that we have with refugees and the conditions under which they are living.

I've just seen the latest issue of this magazine [AI 5.3, Autumn 1997] which focuses on Azerbaijan Cinema. This issue includes beautiful, colored photos from movies such as "Arshin Mal Alan" (The Cloth Peddler), "Mashadi Ibad," "Nasimi" and others. When we look at those photos, we realize that we have forgotten so many things about our own culture. We are reminded of how rich our cinema is, and we start to think about these beautiful, fantastic works that we've created. We must not forgot these things. We must present these things to the world-to America, England, France, Germany, to all the countries of the world. They must know how deep Azerbaijan's culture is.

One of the most attractive characteristics of this magazine is that it selects topics that many of us don't even know about. Even I have learned things from it. For example, we have a very young, talented singer, Surkhai Askarov, with whom I personally became acquainted with through this magazine when Betty Khanum (Mrs. Betty) told me about him.

Shortly afterwards, I arranged a concert in the Art Museum where I heard Surkhai sing for the first time. There I saw for myself how talented he was. So this magazine identifies some of our talented youth as well as the giant personalities in our cultural world such as Uzeyir Hajibeyov, Niyazi, Rashid Behbudov, our great poets and many others.

We can say many things about this wonderful magazine. But one of the most important features is its distribution to readers in 47 countries of the world. Seven thousand copies are printed each quarter. It's very important that people from many countries read this magazine, especially people in government, business, diplomatic and financial circles.

Azerbaijan International has also produced six CDs and cassettes of "Classical Music of Azerbaijan." This is very useful for us. It has helped me, too. I sometimes give copies of the magazine and a set of these CDs to guests who visit our country.

Small, Dedicated Team
One of the most amazing things about this magazine is that they don't have a large editorial staff with lots of assistants. Basically three people are the driving force behind this magazine - Betty Blair, Pirouz Khanlou and Mazahir Panahov in Baku. In Azerbaijan, people ask for big offices, cars, telephones, lots of employees, and then they produce a magazine or newspaper of mediocre quality which is not read by many people. However, Azerbaijan International has accomplished a higher quality magazine without asking for anything because they love Azerbaijan very much and because they are great enthusiasts of their work. Only great enthusiasts can create miracles. These people are great enthusiasts, and that's why I value them so highly.

This magazine has established itself, and we know that as time goes by, it will describe an Azerbaijan with an even brighter future. I hope that Azerbaijan International will increase the number of issues that they publish each year and expand it to five or six issues.

One of the latest projects that they've undertaken is to publish a book called "Global Horizons" which is dedicated to the first official visit of Azerbaijan's president to the U.S. This book is of very high quality, like the magazine, and serves to express and strengthen relationships between Azerbaijan and the international community.

I congratulate you, our people and our friends, on this occasion that we honor Azerbaijan International. I also congratulate the people who have created this magazine and who have worked so hard to make it such a great success. I thank them and wish them continued success in their future work.

Azerbaijan International (5.4) Winter 1997
© Azerbaijan International 1997. All Rights Reserved.

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