Azerbaijan International


1.Who Governs America?
I'm always surprised when our nation complains about the United States and 907. What is 907 to us - $50-$60 million of aid? Even our poor small budget is 20 times greater. So what is 907 to us? Our budget simply depends on whether the price of oil is higher or lower. But of course, from the moral point of view, if 907 were lifted, it would demonstrate the close relations between us and America.

"Sometimes we get offended: why are we so open to America? Why do we support American ideals, especially given the fact that we have to live between two major countries - Russia and Iran - who have complicated relations with America? They are ready to punish anyone for bringing America here. Instead of being treated with reciprocity by America, we only hear the lame excuse: 'Sorry, but we have a strong Armenian lobby.'

"We cannot understand who governs America. Who is managing America? I'm not sure that small lobbies belonging to small minorities can shape the foreign policy of this great country. I'm a fairly educated man, and to me this is incomprehensible.

"Technically, yes, you can explain it. But it's impossible for me to believe that America is managed by the Armenian lobby. When America needs to, they can easily turn their backs on this lobby. America had a huge Japanese lobby, too. But in 1942, all of the American Japanese were rounded up and put into concentration camps. Of course, I'm not saying to round up all the Armenians and put them in concentration camps. What I'm saying is: America shouldn't help us just because we need their help. They should take care of their own self interests.

"We want to be part of Western society. We want to be part of the democratic open society. After the collapse of the USSR, Azerbaijan was the country that could have most easily been transformed into a standard Western country. Now it's getting more and more difficult because of the greater disappointment by increasing numbers of people in connection to 907, and the lack of readiness on the part of the West, first of all the United States, to support our transition."

Husein Baghirov
Azerbaijan Minister of Trade

From Azerbaijan International (8.4), Winter 2000

2. New Strength for Azeri Language
The new decree that requires the use of the Latin alphabet beginning on August 1, 2001 only serves to strengthen the Azeri language. In the past, the Russian language was politically imposed upon our nation. This new decree is bringing about a separation of the Azeri language from Russian and making Azeri cease to be subjected to Russian.

Ten years have passed since these two languages went down separate paths, moved to their own separate households and stopped living together. The process of living on our own will be difficult. We'll have to work hard to develop our language and take care of it. But if we don't do it, who will?

Husein Baghirov, Founding Rector of Western University and current Minister of Environment and Resources.

From Azerbaijan International (9.4), Winter 2001

3. Planting the Future
Azerbaijan is situated in a region, both complicated and problematic. This can be explained by its specific diverse transcultural content and its geographic transit location. Circumstances in history, linked to politics, culture and religion have brought about this complexity.

What strikes the eye as one travels across the region-north to south, east to west-is that we are positioned at the crossroads of two contrasting terrains. On one side, there is green, blossoming vegetation; on the other, barren desert and monotonous brown wasteland.

It seems to me that this issue extends beyond geography and, undoubtedly, is a factor influencing our cultural self identification. History has treated us ruthlessly on many occasions. But we no longer want to allow things to remain as they are. We want to take our destiny in our own hands and make a firm, decisive, irreversible stand. We don't want to be a country of deserts with dull, drab terrain. We want to be a flourishing nation, characterized by lush green landscapes - which, indeed, is the true essence of our spirit and nature.

Husein Baghirov, Ph.D., Minister of Ecology and Resources describing the rationale for the Ministry undertaking a vast reforestation program which has resulted in the planting of more than 30 million trees these past two years.

From Azerbaijan International (11.4) Winter 2003.

© Azerbaijan International 2004.

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