MOST FAVORABLE CONDITIONS FOR MASS MEDIA ACTIVITY CREATED IN AZERBAIJAN
MEETING OF PRIME-MINISTER OF AZERBAIJAN ILHAM ALIYEV WITH PARTICIPANTS OF THE V WORLD CONGRESS OF RUSSIAN PRESS
Having warmly and cordially welcomed the guests Prime-Minister Ilham Aliyev said:
Dear Vitaliy Nikitich, dear guests,
Let me to greet you and congratulate on the successful conducting of the Russian Press Congress in Baku. It was our great wish for the Congress to be held in Baku, and we are grateful to the organization’s management for acceptance of our offer. I think we had the right to pretend to being the host city for the fifth Congress as the attitude to the Russian language, Russian culture, and the activity of the Russian press in Azerbaijan are on a high level in Azerbaijan. We have set a high value on our relations existing on interstate, intergovernmental and interpersonal level. It is very valuable to us that despite we have been living in different states for over decade, all kindness and cordiality between us people has been preserved and I think even strengthened, and such a policy will be continued in the future.
Just the day before yesterday I had the honor to meet President of Russia Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin in Yalta. The warm welcome he extended to me reaffirms that relations between our countries are on the highest level. We had very good meetings, spoke of the bilateral relations frankly and in detail, and discussed their further development. I must say our talk gave more confidence that our countries would actively co-operate in all spheres, help each other both as of bilateral relations and in the international arena, thus more strengthening our links.
I heard the Congress’ work is going on successfully, a lot of useful things have been done, this is, of course very important. But what is even more important to us is that all of our friends who have arrived in Baku to have the opportunity to be closer acquainted with our country, our city and people.
I told more than once that we are not in the same boat: we have full information on what is going on in Russia, because our country is among a very few ones with such a number of Russian TV-channels and newspapers. Not wide circle in Russia, however, is aware of the events taking place in Azerbaijan. I think the holding this Congress in Baku and further joint programs in this direction will help to bring truth about today’s Azerbaijan to broad sections of the public in Russia. From this standpoint, the conducting the Congress in Azerbaijan acquires a great importance.
Once again, I want to thank Vitaliy Nikitich, all our friends who contributed to the holding the Congress in Baku, and express hope that we will find new forms to meet in Baku, in Moscow in the future.
The most important thing is that our contacts continue and relations strengthen. I also express hope that although the weather let us down today, the impressions of Baku will stay in your memory for long.
Having thanked Prime-Minister Ilhm Aliyev for the warm meeting, Director General of the Russian news Agency ITAR-TASS Vitaliy Ignatenko said:
Thank you very much for the opportunity to see you. I think it is a continuation of our work. Sure, my colleagues will ask you questions and say just words of gratitude. This is what I am going to start with.
I think, due to the brilliant organization, this Congress was the best of those held before. By the way, you have very young and active team, very faithful and international. Even the volunteers, these young talents of the Slavonic University gave us every support, we saw the responsibility, with which these students had approached their work. I want to thank them very much for that.
You were absolutely right saying it was not by chance that the choice of the host country for the Congress had fallen on the beautiful country Azerbaijan. First of all, we had to correspond with the proposal made by President of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev two years ago. I realized that those were some our mutual commitments, and serious and fruitful work had to be done. On the other hand, Heydar Aliyevich would say two years ago that Baku would become more beautiful, and it just turned out to be like this.
I think it is very important that five Director Generals of foreign telegraph agencies are present here, many of them are the Ministers of Information. I can see here the colleagues from Kuwait, China. They are very serious and well-known journalists, and have been well acquainted with Azerbaijan in dynamics for many years. It has already been realized that your country is widely developing. It was also very important to us to see Azerbaijan afoot. We have made decisions in the course of the Congress, and I must say a huge work is expected for creation of television.
We know Azerbaijan is one of the few countries - together with Kazakhstan and Ukraine - where there are such a number of editions in Russian. The newspaper “Balinskiy rabochiy” alone has rich history since the beginning of the last century. We are well aware of the history of the Russian press in Baku. There are many opposition papers today, I think it is not a problem, actually the Russian press has always been oppositional per se; one should be afraid of this, and this is a normal process in the normal democratic society.
It seems to me we could return good for your hospitality. Today we have been at the Slavonic University, and one of its students Mikhail Gusman recited verses by Samed Vurgun. I think by joint efforts of those present here, we could invite the students of the Slavonic University to do practical work in journalism in Moscow and other regions of the country. I think it would be useful and real link between the republics, real contribution to the development of your press.
Once again I want to thank you personally and present to you a unique gift - the book “Anthology of Modern Azerbaijani Lyrics” published in Russian language in Berlin.
Then, First Deputy Minister on the Press, TV and Radio Broadcasting, and Mass Communications of Russia Mikhail Seslavinskiy took the floor.
First, I was terrified when I knew that there was not a Ministry of Press and TV and Radio broadcasting. It was even more terrible to know that conditions for registration of mass media are more liberal here than in Russia, and that they must just notify the Justice Ministry that they are going to be founded, and are allowed to come out in week even before the Ministry’s official permission. Our Ministry is also attempts to create such conditions. Maybe it will be possible to exclude it from the Government’s composition too.
I once again want to say with a feeing of gratitude that the Russian TV channels are broadcasted not only in Baku but also throughout Azerbaijan. We have been told that the Channel 1 and RTR are received even in many mountainous villages. We saw sputnik television is very developed here, and that two Russian-language newspapers “Ekho” /The Echo/ and “Zerkalo”/The Mirror/ are very popular in Baku. It gives us a great pleasure, of course.
While walking down the city streets, we could see the people welcoming us - the guests from Moscow - very warmly and sincerely. Their Russian is well and they are curious about what is going on in Russia. You know, the Russian mass media widely cover the events taking place in Azerbaijan, especially now when the pre-election campaign is progress, a lot of articles are published. Yesterday, a full-page article on the President of Azerbaijan was published in “Izvestiya.”
Of course, the journalists try to present their materials as critical as possible to produce the public’s lively reaction. Vitaliy Nikitich is absolutely right: it is quite normal.
I also would like to say the warm welcome we have been extended in Baku has demonstrated that there were great opportunities for our co-operation not only at political or economic level. For instance, you have very strong Minister of Ecology - Huseyn Bagirov. He showed us his economy, and we were surprised at how much energy he puts into his business. Moreover, Mikhail Solomonovich said: “We wish we have such a Minister.”
We also spoke of the necessity to create programs about Azerbaijan’s natural parks and reserves to show them on the Channe-1; there are a plenty of popular scientific editions, which have been reappeared in the country e.g “Vokrug Sveta”. /Around the World/.
Also can be arranged expeditions to further develop tourism. The cooperation, which continues on political and economic level, should become an intensive tourist exchange.
Once again I express my gratitude for hospitality.
Expressing his gratitude for warm reception and sincere words, Prime Ministre of Azerbaijan said:
‘Thank you very much. It is a pleasure to hear your words. We have no ministry of press, but, as you spoke of the absence of registration procedure of printing editions, it is, of course, positive moment and it led to the fact that in Azerbaijan there are over 500 newspapers and journals. I do not know who releases them and how long one can read them all. In any case, the fact is positive. And even may be a family or a group of people issue such newspapers. But, the situation is completely liberal and of course, positive. The people have the right to read what they want. As far as for opposition, we cannot get used it. Because, censorship imposed in Azerbaijan during the pervious government in 1992, has been abolished several years ago, by the Decree of President of Azerbaijan Republic. Therefore, everybody is free to write what he wishes.
However, there are some editions that enjoy great reputation, including the editions in Russian language. By the way, in comparison with the soviet period, number of the editions in Russian language in Azrebaijan has increased. Earlier, they were ‘Bakinskiy Rabochi’, ‘Vishka’, and now their number increased. It means that these newspapers are read by the readers. It seems the reason is that Russian language in Azerbaijan is treated at high level. None of the Russian schools was closed, there was no discrimination cases related to the Russian langue, on the contrary, we deem that the more Azerbaijani citizens will know Russian language, other languages, the more they will be enriched, have great opportunity and access to works of the world literature and art.
It is clear that residents of Azerbaijan, yet in the passed years mainly had access to the scientific editions and literature through Russian language. Therefore, our task is to preserve this tradition. It has been for 12 years we live in different states, but the level of knowledge on Russian language in Azerbaijan was not reduced. It is a very positive factor. This policy is being pursued in Azerbaijan and it will be. Existence of a single in the former Soviet space of the Slavonic University is another factor. In this, I think, it is reflected the international essence of the Azerbaijani people. And in all timers, all the nationalities, inhabited our Country, did not suffered from egoism and nationalism. This was alien to us, and thanks to God, it is continued today. I think the joint programs that will be defined, the ideas that will impact on the course of the Congress, will be studied in detail. We are keen in having such joint programs, may be probation or other local projects in the field of TV or printing editions. In any case, we welcome it.’
Then, at the metering, was speaking chairman of the Council of Directors of the News Agency ‘Khabar’, Kazakhstan, Dariga Nazarbayeva. She said:
‘It is a great pleasure to be here and take part at such warm reception with a whole team. Possibly, every participant of the forum feels it. Today, practically every orator expressed his gratitude to our Azerbaijani colleagues for cordial reception. It was delightful to see the difference, which was notable in comparison with 1996, when I was in Baku. I was stricken of the number of the ‘McDonalds’. We have none of them in Almaty. You have a very beautiful city, rich shops, and windows. All these I have seen thorough the car windows and I was admired.’
Ilham Aliyev: ‘Yes, you are right, the Country develops successfully, in the economy was achieved great success. I would not burden you with the statistics, but believe, the data are very positive, both on the growth and inflation rate. After our oil-gas projects will enter the final stage, of their realization, we shall have considerably higher growth rate in the economy. We attach great attention to the social sphere, and wages and pensions are increased. Very intensively growing is the private sector, which produces over 70 percent of production. This is very positive fact, because although the base of economy is oil and oil production, however, they are at the state monopoly, while the private sector is developing exclusively in the non-oil sector. There are great successes in the agriculture, the land was given to the farmers, there happened complete privatization of land, and all the farmers were expelled from taxes during five years. There remained only the land tax, which is of symbolic character. I would note that after the land was given to the private property, practically the growth in agriculture amounted 2, even 3 times. Greta construction works are conducted in Baku. Currently, we have such a construction boom, and we built not only elite buildings, but also buildings that are modest and not expensive. This means that the there is forming medium class, which is one of the indices of economic health of society.
Therefore, here, our Country moves in a very positive direction, and our city becomes nicer. This Yacht Club was opened just shortly and after the opening, it is the first arrangement here. So, it may be also called the opening ceremony of this Club’.
With the words of gratitude in the address of Prime Minister Ilham Aliyev also was speaking the minister of information and social-political liaison of Moscow Alexander Muzikantskiy. He said:
‘Dear Ilham Heydarovich, I would like to thank You for organizing our congress. I am not for the first time in Baku. A year and a half ago we took part at the conference of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) passed in Baku. This Conference was also organized in high level. I would also like to You personal greetings and good wishes, successes at the high capacity from the Mayor of Moscow Yuri Mikhailovich Luzhukov.
We are satisfied with the current level of relations between Moscow and Azerbaijan. You know that our relations are quickly developing in the economic sphere and there is direct food delivery to Moscow. We are ready to participate in further development of relations in both of the frame of activity of the Russian International Press Association and in bilateral ground. I think Your Slavonic University is a unique institution and we render to its development every kind of assistance. I once again thank you for remarkable organizing.
I would like to convey to You my congratulations. For long time, I have worked at the system of city municipality and therefore with a particular interest I watch on the activity of the Baku mayor. I should note that his active work leads to notable conclusions.
Ilham Aliyev: ‘Thank you. Pass, please, to Yuri Mikhailovich Luzhukov, my greetings and best wishes, for congratulations, which he sent to me. We have cordial relations. Last year we met in Moscow. Convey to him, please, my best wishes, and success in his work.’
Then, at the meeting was speaking the first deputy foreign minister of Russia Ms. Eleonora Mitrofonova: She said: ‘Dear Ilham Heydarovich, we are glad to greet You here. We know that You have just returned from the Crimea. We attentively watched on the conclusions of those meetings and are very pleased that You were received to this top club of the heads of state.
I would like to note that this high impulse in the development of our bilateral relations, at first, base on high personal contracts of the leaders of the two countries. This intensification of relations happened after 2000 and we deem that this process will go ahead. Today I had a chance to visit the Slavonic University and at your Orthodox Cathedral, spoke to your religious figures. I would also like to express my gratitude to the Azerbaijan leadership for rendering assistance in restoration the church. He named all the persons who donated for this cause.
However, I consider that this is great a contribution of the Mayoral and of all those donators who assisted to restore the temple. It is pleased to be at this multinational land, where rules the world of peace and tolerance. Three main confessions - Orthodoxy, Moslem, and Jew, very well interacting among themselves and are at good relations, backing each other. This is very good positive factor.
As to congratulations, we today spoke to the foreign minister and revealed that for today we have no cultural centers. There is neither Azerbaijan cultural center in Moscow, nor Russian cultural center in Baku. Of course, restriction at the budget organizations always complicates this. I think that this will be initiated from the top bodies and the Mayor will allot site. And the rest work can be done by each side separately. This would greatly assist further initiatives. I would like to tell that there are two Azerbaijani schools in Moscow. Besides, the Azerbaijani TV channels televise at the central TV in Moscow, and there are cable TV channels. You know that there is strong Azerbaijani Diaspora in Moscow.
Ilham Aliyev: ‘For example, Michael Solomonovich is the bright sample of Azerbaijani Diaspora in Moscow.’
Eleonora Mitrofanova: ‘Yes, at the Slavonic University, he was greeted as a star. I once again thank you very much and hope that the impulse which the heads of state attach to the development of relations between our countries in all spheres, should be welcomed and I am sure that this will be further continued’.
Ilham Aliyev: ‘Thank you for warm words. ’ I am completely agreed with you. As a man taking part in numerous phases of our bilateral relations, I can say that after the visit of President of Russia Vladimir Putin to Azerbaijan our relations were given strong impulse in all spheres. We expected the visit of President of Russia to Azerbaijan. But, on unknown reasons, it was not realized and postponed. And when Vladimir Vladimirovich visited Azerbaijan, respecting and honoring the people of Azerbaijan, it was given a high assessment. And just immediately after this visit, we felt that all the problems, which were considered unsolvable, found their solution, and on mutual benefit. This concerned both of the long disputes on the legal status of the Caspian, and relations in the frame of military-technical cooperation. The questions were not solved for long years.
As soon as we achieved political, sincere and mutually respectful contact, we managed to do everything. Today there is not a single problem between Russia and Azerbaijan, which needs solution. We have settled all issues, This is the evidence of the fact that we have good will and intentions in relationships creating all necessary conditions for resolution of problems, It shows once more, that the relationships between the states are determine to some extend to personal relations between two presidents. The feeling of friendship, mutual support, and mutual understanding between our two presidents promoted our closeness.
Related to cultural center, of course, it seems to be an omission. I think, we will resolve this issues by mutual efforts. Moreover, that we have a big Russian community here in Azerbaijan. Many Azerbaijanis live in Russia, Moscow, this issue is very urgent. We will find funds for fulfillment of this plan.
Deputy of the Israeli Knesset, Chairman of the commission for Israeli-Russian relations Yury Shtern made speech at the meeting:
- Dear Ilham Heydarovich, I follow attentively your political carrier. It is a pity that we have now fewer chances to see you in the Council of Europe, where you rendered assistance to our delegation. I am thankful for your help. For the last time, you saved us during discussion of an important resolution. Eleonora Valentinovna spoke on this topic, I will say again. Yesterday, members of the Israeli delegation visited a new synagogue in Baku. In fact, it is a unique example of tolerance.
First of all, our friendship has been forming during a long history. The fact that the head of Caucasian Muslims’ Clerical office contributed personal funds to construction of the synagogue is a rare fact in inter-actions of confessions. I want to thank you on behalf of our people.
In concern of bilateral relations, we have good prospects. In particular, these relations are connected with the fact that Baku community in Israel, Canada differs for its solidarity, warm atmosphere. I came to Baku, filled with information and expectation, because there is not a single Bakuvite, not singing the praises of their native city. Besides, city patriotism, it is a very important resource for mutual inter-actions. This congress, held in Russian, is another resource.
We have this resource in our countries and there are good opportunities in Azerbaijan to develop it. I wish you success.
Ilham Aliyev: Thank you. We will look into it very seriously. You have touched upon tolerance in Azerbaijan. Yes, we are tolerant towards other religions. Representatives of all religions feel comfortable in Azerbaijan. Even during troubled time, in the past. The situation when representatives of Muslim, Christian and Jewish religions are together, they are taking part in all governmental functions together, this fact deserves a special attention. This is the example for successors of these religions how to live together; our state is not big but multi-national.
Therefore, peace and consent for us are not abstract words. It is a form of establishment of our state, mutual enrichment of cultures. We value national and religious consent in Azerbaijan very much. At the very beginning of our independence, when extremist, non-professional people were in power, they made an attempt to destroy everything that had been created for tens of years.
However, Azerbaijanis are wise. After one year, the authorities who came into power shouting from the square, were swept away by people. One of the main factors of the fact is in an attempt of imposing nationalism on our people - Azerbaijani nations did not take that and history proved it. Therefore, the most important thing is permanent improvement of forms of work in this field. I consider, we can be taken as a good example of inter-actions and inter-enrichment of cultures.
Maybe, we will not see each other very often in Strasbourg, but you can come here.
President of the publishing house “Petit” in Latvia, Alexey Sheinin shared his views on his visit to Baku:
- Dear Prime Minister, my feelings are strange. I am taking part in a meeting held in good and warm atmosphere. I have a familiar landscape in front of my eyes - the sea and ships. We are not oil producing country. All the same, I compared other things. You say that the number of Russian schools is not decreasing we have opposite situation. Related to Russian mass media, of course, everything is private. I do not know how you manage to do it. Maybe, a special style on combination and carrying out of your own policy.
I will take this experience with me to Baltia with pleasure and tell about it to big audience. Vitaly Nikitich told us that two years ago when we met with Heydar Aliyevich and I was honored to be present at that meeting, we felt strict and deep understanding of this policy. Anyway, I would like to thank you again and wish you the same firm succession in this policy.
Ilham Aliyev: Thank you very much. Of course, policy carried out by President Heydar Aliyevich Aliyev should go on. This is the only guarantee that our country will be developing successfully, not only economically. Of course, economy is an important component in life of each state, but consent in the society depends on peace between different national groups. Without it, independently how rich your country is, it will permanently face problems.
I believe, it is difficult to form up a formula of welfare in Azerbaijan, but one of the main factors is interfering less into relations between people of different nationalities, inhabiting your country.
If one interferes, it should be interference to promote mutual understanding. When fear appears that someone may make harm - this is the source of all troubles. As I have just said, we were eyewitnesses of this situation in Azerbaijan.
There were unsuccessful attempts of imposing national opposition, which failed. It is difficult to explain in short, why it happened. We highly esteem today’s situation. It has deep historical roots - from pre-Soviet, Soviet and Post-Soviet times, this is a national tradition.
When I say that Michael Gusman is one of the most outstanding representatives of Azerbaijani Diaspora in Russia, I say it sincerely. We make no differences between the nations, between sons of Azerbaijan. Our President says, all of us are sons and daughters of the country, independently on nationality. I think this is the deposit of healthy society, not suffering from diseases of nationalism, extremism, and national isolation. I think, we have enriched representatives of different nationalities lived and live in Azerbaijan.
It created nice atmosphere, characterizing our city, our country. We esteem this situation, if you want us to share our experience, we will do it with pleasure.
Chief Editor of the “Vestnik” program of State TV Radio Company of Georgia, Mark Rivkin made speech at the meeting:
- Dear Ilham Heydarovich. As your know I have a special privileged position in Baku, among majority of your guests, except Gusman. I live in a country, at a distance of only 400 km from this country. We know very well what is taking place in your country and you know what is going on in Georgia. I have met with the President of Azerbaijan, dear Heydar Aliyev many times. He is a unique man, and I am happy that Georgia is supporting him seriously. All of us know about it. We have very special relationships between our countries, and we have common fate and common future to some extent.
Global projects implemented by our countries - are our future. We have a strong believe in you and you trust us. Let us live further in this way, because this is the only was leading is to good, just life. I would like to underline once more, many Azerbaijanis live in Georgia, and they support the process-taking place in your country today. It is difficult to surprise Georgians by hospitability, and maybe one day, this congress will be held in Georgia. However, to tell frankly I was surprised by hospitability in Azerbaijan.
In conclusion, I would like to tell you one more think. I am the man bringing everything taking place in Azerbaijan to Georgian public, I have good friendly relations with your Ambassador in Tbilisi, and I broadcast everything taking place in your country. I have been surprised what I saw today in the Slavic University. Let us use experience that you have concentrated and bring it to Georgia. Our country adores your father, loves you. We would be happy to adopt your experience. Thank you.
Ilham Aliyev: Thank you for good words. In fact, our nations and countries are connected by cloudless history of relations. Close fraternity and friendship, relations between independent Georgia and Azerbaijan is the example of the fact how two neighboring countries can cooperate. Sometimes neighbors do not have good relations. In this case, the relations between Georgia and Azerbaijan prove that the relations between neighbors may be based on mutual love and friendship.
It is very important for us that Georgia was successfully developing. We want it as friend, as a country united with Georgia by the international energy project. That is why we are together and we will follow this path. Taking this opportunity, I would like to convey best wishes of welfare, happiness and prosperity to our friends in Georgia. We, on our behalf will do everything to help each other. Thank you.
Vitaly Ignatenko: Ilham Heydarovich, thank you for spending time with us. We wish you big success.
Ilham Aliyev: I would like to thank you for warmness, friendship and love. You know, everything is mutual. I understand it is difficult to hold this congress every year in Baku, though we have definite experience of holding international functions of the kind. For example, the TV game What? Where? When? Last year, first championship of this game was held and we put forward the initiative of holding it in Baku. It was held by our Ministry of Youth, Sport and Tourism jointly with the National Olympic Committee.
On the same year, I put forward the initiative of holding the second world championship of the game and it was successfully held one month ago. I hope that the third one will be held in Baku as well. It means that we have experience, but it will be more difficult with your organization. If there are any difficulties, we will find other forms for our relations and contacts, so that they could go on in this format.
After the meeting, Prime Minister of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev took photo with the participants of the 5th Congress of Russian Press.
Head of public-political department of President’s office Ali Hassanov was present at the meeting.