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South Caucasus
Elmir Mirzoev


Nune Hakhverdyan
made by
Nune Hakhverdyan
Azerbaijani journalist and composer Elmir Mirzoyev visited Armenia with his Azerbaijani colleague with the invitation of the “Caucasian Center of Peace-Making Initiatives”. During our conversation, he often asked me not to make his opinions sound like the official speeches made by the Azerbaijani, emphasizing that he had only come to get acquainted with the Armenians and communicate.

Can culture be national?

You can’t have the “national” concept in culture. There can’t be a wide spectrum of culture in small countries with not too much population. You can only have folklore. Folklore and culture are different. It’s like that in Azerbaijan and I’m sure it’s the same in Armenia. That’s just provinciality.

Can we say that it’s better in Azerbaijan?

You can’t say that. I recently met a very interesting person who was a cook by profession but was higher than all the professors of Baku with his intellect. He told me that we are currently in a big war. ‘We cook dolma. Armenia, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Iran are ready to throw bombs on each other in order to see who wins. Whoever wins and stays alive will cook the dolma’ he told me. Do you understand? This is absurd. Finding out who has the right to cook the dolma is absurd. The “national” concept hasn’t been around for a long time; it originated in the 18th century after the French Revolution. Until then people used the word “umma”, which comes from Islam and means a general aerial for living. Who can say what nationality the Crusaders were? People had simply gone along with their own ideals and had united with one ideology. After the French Revolution, man became the center of attention and humanism replaced the concept of the universe. Armenians and Azerbaijani don’t understand the meaning of humanism and simply translate it into “humanitarianism”, but it has a broader meaning because man becomes the center of attention and he is the cause of everything. That’s when the “national” comes in to play.

Has the influence of religion grown in independent Azerbaijan?

No, Azerbaijani have remained the same Soviets as before. Some people speculate religion. I think that the same thing is going on in Armenia. There are some villages in Azerbaijan where you have strong believers and people who complain about the social conditions go to live in the villages and see religion as their savior. That’s encouraged by some powers and often the “religious sponsors” are from abroad. That’s normal because all nations have an influence on one another. There are land debates in all countries. Of course, history is a science, but it’s written by man and man is a “social phenomenon” capable of anything. I have a question for you-whom does the duduk belong to? Armenians say it belongs to the Armenians, the Azerbaijani say that they created the duduk …

They say that the duduk is an Azerbaijani musical instrument…? That’s amazing. I can somewhat understand the debates about the Armenian dish dolma, but I’m simply surprised to hear that there are debates about the origin of the duduk.

Yes, but why are you surprised? In that case, tell me, who invented the clarinet - the Germans or the French?

The clarinet, just like the duduk, belongs to all nations of the world, but the duduk originated from Armenia.

The duduk is part of the aerial civilization. That aerial was very big; it included Armenia, Azerbaijan, until Russia came and occupied the northern parts of our territory.

Can we theoretically presume that a new land of culture will form based on the ties between Armenian and Azerbaijani artists?

I don’t believe in that because a majority of people politicize everything and live with the cliches, which originated after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union was a very strong civilized aerial. In general, I’m certain that all large and valuable things are created in large territories. Now we see a tendency to create large territories.

Do you mean the term “globalization”?

Nowadays, globalization is perceived as Americanism. Americanism began with the idea of the sea. The sea didn’t exist for people of the Asian and European continents, neither as a means of navigation nor as a part of national cuisine. As for countries with seas, such as England and Holland, which can’t picture their lives without the sea, it has changed the concept of the “homeland”. The word Homeland has become one of their average boats because they have never felt the tie between the individual and the land. For them the Homeland meant something more.

I notice the fact that you feel rather calm in Armenia. Can you imagine if one day Armenian journalists or musicians come to Baku, walk freely on the streets and represent themselves as Armenians?

The Armenian delegation won’t be able to pay an official visit to Azerbaijan, but perhaps individuals will be able to. Armenians haven’t been coming to Baku for the past six years because of the… well, you know very well what I mean…

How was Yerevan?

Yerevan is a small yet very beautiful city, advanced and clean. But there are no elements of cosmopolitanism here. It’s hard to live in a rather closed, mono-ethnic society. The capital city shouldn’t be mono-ethnic. Baku has that cosmopolitanism, but that’s not because we’re better or more advanced. It’s just that there is this world Hannibal business center in Baku where representatives of different nations want to “get what they want” out of it. That’s the oil business, which is turning Baku into a cosmopolitan city.

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