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South Caucasus


Alekper Aliyev with Armenian students


Alekper Aliyev
Alekper Aliyev
And this was the first phrase that I heard on the Georgian soil right after I had crossed the Azerbaijan-Georgia border. Georgi Vanyan came to meet us who contrived to drive a long way from Yerevan to the Red Bridge in his car with his friend. Georgi smiled and so did the driver whose name was Eduard. But there were no smiles on the faces of the crowd most probably consisting of Azerbaijanians and Georgians who gathered around the old Volkswagen with Armenian numbers.

With their eyes wide open they were watching two suspicious quiet guys who had just arrived from Azerbaijan shaking their hands with Armenians, each greeting in his “barev”, “salam”. Yes, we were on the Georgian territory, but it was a stone's throw away from Azerbaijan and our actions were illogical.

The boot of the car is being opened, Elmir’s luggage and my trunk disappear into it. Many Georgians and Azerbaijanians were watching us in astonishment. Our car caused a pile of dust behind when it started its way in the direction of Sadakhlo.

After Georgi asked us traditional questions like how were we had reached, how we were feeling, he proceeded with the discussion of the most urgent and important question for us:
- Boys, I know that you may be hungry. And before you leave Georgia and you break off all the bonds that have any relation with Azerbaijan and Azerbaijanian people, we will have supper in an Azerbaijanian restaurant. There are lots of them on the way.

Elmir who had travelled all his life around Europe, asked a question with curiosity:
- I wonder if Armenians can eat quietly and peacefully in Azeri restaurants?

Georgi was surprised:
- What is there so wonderful about it? There are even mixed Armenian-Azeri villages in Georgia. You think things are bad enough that we can’t dine in Azeri restaurants?

- But is everything indeed OK, Georgi?! You saw people staring at us, at our car, didn’t you? What’s going on? And why was this madhouse called South Caucuses included in the European Council?

Nodding his head, Elmir started to smoke. The smoke choked us in the cab of a small car.

Driving past some village, Georgi turned to us and said: - This is an Azerbaijanian village which will continue up to the frontier. The residents of these villages are not surprising at all of Armenian numbers.

A couple of minutes passed and suddenly Georgi began to bustle and started to argue with the driver. Their squabble in Armenian was over in a minute and in the end I was unable to contain myself and asked:
- What’s going on?

As it turned out later we passed the restaurant in which Georgi enjoyed dining. We had to stop at the filling station and asked a young Azerbaijanian guy about the nearest snack bar on our way. In the beginning Georgi spoke to him in Russian and then I started asking him questions in Azeri. He was not surprised at all at the presence of an Armenian and Azerbaijanian inside the same car with Armenian numbers. With an expression of indifference on his face he explained to us that the nearest restaurant was two hundred meters away from Georgian-Azerbaijan frontier. We thanked him and continued our drive.

The Volkswagen approached right up to the entrance of the restaurant and pulled up. A waiter appearing as if out of nowhere came up to us and saluted us in Russian. When I answered him back in Azerbaijan “aleikum salam”, he was not surprised at all and ushered us into a beautiful but a chilly room. His quietness and complete indifference made me nervous. We were seated around the table and the waiter brought a heater in.

- What would you like to order?, - he asked smiling.

Murmurs could be heard in our stomachs, our mouths watered at the mentioned of the word “food”. Instead of the order, Elmir asked:
- Look, gardash, we came here in an Armenian car and you are not surprised at all? And why the hell is nobody surprised here?! Ah?

The waiter shrugged his shoulders and growled something under his nose and after thinking a bit he answered:
- You are not from Georgia?

- No, - answered Elmir. We are from Baku. What’s wrong with that?

- Azerbaijanians from Georgia very often go to Armenia in order to sell tangerines there.

I was sleepy, shivering with cold and my hunger still more intensified my coldness. Naturally, it was very difficult for me to laugh but I couldn’t keep smiling either. Our laughter and roar started the waiter. By shaking the cigarette-holder over his head, Elmir started shouting very nervously which frightened our poor waiter even greater.

- Oh, my God! Where is our Kusturica?! Why we don’t have our own Kusturica which will mock at our region in the way we jeer at Balkans?! How funny and foolish! You see, yeah, Georgi? And yet you are engaged in peacemaking. People don’t care for the war at all. People sell tangerines and they regard us as petty tradesmen. Instead of being engaged in peacemaking activities, it will be better to shoot something like “Underground” or “LIVE Is A Miracle”. What an idiotic region it is!

Georgi was silent and only smiled. Elmir shook his head and started smoking and stared at the wall clock which had the form of heart. The waiter surprisingly shrugged his shoulders and went to fetch kyabab ordered by Georgi while Elmir was indignant and demanded from God to send Kusturica to South Caucasus.

When the passports of the two Azerbaijanians were produced to the Georgian frontier guard, in the beginning he very surprisingly looked at us and then sat back in his arm-chair and very wearily asked:
- Where are you going?

With my forehead pressed to the window glass, I answered with pleasure:
- To Ulan-Bator.

Not finding any humour in my answer the major asked the following question:
- Are you sure you want to go to Armenia?

Having heard a positive answer from impudent Azerbaijanians, the Georgian guy very roughly affixed the stamp, returned our passports and said:
- You are not scared at all?

An indignant Elmir once again appealed to God, but this time he didn’t want Kusturitsa, but the drop of an atomic bomb on the South Caucasus. He became silent at the check-point of Armenia when the agents of special services approached us and asked to produce our passports.

Our passports were returned to us five minutes later and we started our way.

I was drowsy in a warm car, but Georgi kept me from sleeping.
- Alekper, do you hear me?
- Yeah, what’s the matter?
- Nursun Erel is expecting you in Yerevan. She promised not to sleep and await you until you arrived. But I think she can hardly stay awake. It is already 10 o’clock.

Nursun Erel, a correspondent from The New Anatolian newspaper, arrived from Vienna to Yerevan last night. She was staying at “Olympia” Hotel with Luiza Poghosyan. They were expecting the arrival of the two Azerbaijanians with whom she was intending to work within 10 days.

A huge tunnel swallowed our car.

We arrived at “Olympia” hotel at midnight. Nursun Erel went to bed without waiting for our arrival. But instead we were met by Luiza Pogosyan and four of us went upstairs to our room to discuss our tomorrow’s schedule.

At 11.00 a.m. we were to meet with the students of faculties of journalism of Yerevan State and Slavonic Universities. Almost all the students would see Azerbaijan guys and a Turkish woman for the first time in their life. For this reason we required a good sleep so as to be cheerful and in good spirits.

Finally, at 3 a.m. we had to expel Luiza and Georgi (who had no desire to leave) from our room. After they left the room we went to bed. Elmir saw Kusturica in his dream selling tangerines, for some reason, in Ulan-Bator.

He told me about it the next morning.
Alekper Aliyev and Elmir Mirzoyev Nursun Erel
We met with Nursun Erel


At breakfast we met with Nursun Erel. She looked embarrassed and confused and very much upset. She was using some filthy drops in her tea, most probably a mixture for soothing her nerves.

- I have been in Yerevan before and met with official persons, made a shooting for Kanal D. But this is the first time I will be working with young people. Alekper, are young people here very aggressive? You have been here before, haven’t you? And you might have some experience…

Elmir started to smoke, winked at her and promised her that she would have a fast and painless death by the hands of Armenian young people here. After this we burst into laughter and disturbed our hotel guests who were eating at the tables next to ours.

Nursun seemed to calm down.

But in vain!

At 11.00 sharp the conference hall of the hotel was gradually being packed with young people. They were mostly 18-20 year-old girls.

Having being seated comfortably, Luiza Pogosyan, the coordinator of Caucasian Center of Peacemaking Initiative asked us to take our seats at the table.

At this moment, a man, whose face was very familiar to me, entered the hall. “He is an Azerbaijanian. I might have seen him before”, I thought.

Elmir and I exchanged our looks and in bewilderment we stared at that grey-haired man who came up to us and started a conversation with us in clear Azerbaijanian.
- Hello, I am Aleksey Manvelyan. I represent BBC Azerbaijan Service in Yerevan. How’s your trip, how are you feeling?

“Ah, there it is! I saw him on ANS”, it started to clear up in my head.

- Why did they stop showing you on ANS?, - I asked him.

- It is a long story, - Manvelyan waved his hand. “Let’s go and sit. Students are already tired of waiting for us.”
Students, Yerevan Students, Yerevan Students, Yerevan
The hall of the hotel was gradually being packed with young people
Students, Yerevan Students, Yerevan Students, Yerevan Students, Yerevan Students, Yerevan
All of them seemed to be nice, honest and open
Having being introduced to the students, Georgi Vanyan told them about the activity of Caucasus Center of Peacemaking Initiatives, the objective of the given project and thanked for the assistance and support of the Embassy of Great Britain in Armenia. He reminded that two Azerbaijanians and a journalist from Turkey arrived in Armenia with the purpose of holding master-classes for students of faculties of journalism, as well as meet with public and political figures.

After the introductory speech, Nursun Erel was asked to deliver her speech. She told a little about herself and expressed her preparedness to answer all the questions of the students. A young Armenian was translating for her, but the guest from Ankara seemed not to be very much pleased with his professionalism. The questions of the youth mostly concerned the situations of Mass Medias in Turkey, the events of 1915 and the closed Armenian-Turkish border.

When it was our turn to speak, I was pleasantly surprised, that the young people had prepared beforehand for this conference. It appeared that many of them are true readers of Day.Az, and some of them were even acquainted with my first “Yerevan Diaries”.

A student from Slavonic University whose name was Nikolay even got interested in “Conversation with a piglet” which was first written by Alchin Gasanov and later continued by me and Darya Guseinli. Nikolay asked me why we criticized our own people so much. Passing ahead of me, Elmir Mirzoev answered:

- Our friend Alekper is an epatage writer. Don’t pay attention to what he writes. Or rather get used to it! All these ten days he will be epatering and talking obscene things, he can even walk with his tongue hanging out. Elchin Gasanov can take pride in the fact that he is not the only Azerbaijanian of this type.

A student from Slavonic University rose from her seat and started a conversation about forums where young people used bad language, humiliated one another and took other people’s stories for their own. She enquired whether Elmir and I visited and used those forums.

Aleksey Manvelyan couldn’t contain himself and said:
- Hey, guy, I hate internet forums. Any types of forums! Both Armenian and Azerbaijan forums! Before I used to read them up, but now my blood pressure rises due to them. All people use nicknames, swear and use bag languages in forums. You never know who is who there. Very often, a fascist Armenian there appealing to wipe out and destroy all Azerbaijanians, turn out to be an Azerbaijanian. And vice versa.

I knew a guy who used to post messages in forums. He pretended to be an Azerbaijanian and insulted all Armenians. And therefore, he was asked a question in Azerbaijanian, and he immediately phoned me. “Aleksey, I need a help! I want to write something in Azerbaijanian, but I don’t know how. Will you translate it for me?”

I refused flatly to help him and advised him to leave the forum and all other forums, in general. I quit writing and reading. What is this? In our real life such things never happen. All people sitting before the monitors are patriots, all people are honest and brave. Virtual world spoilt us! Down the virtual dictatorship!”

“Down!”, Elmir maintained his idea and put his hand into his pocket in order to take out his cigarettes. But suddenly he remembered that it was disallowed to smoke there and began to knock with his knuckles on the table.

During the coffee-break, Manvelyan decided to interview us for BBC. While we were talking, the organizer asked the students to choose teachers for themselves among us with whom they would like to get acquainted with. When Elmir, Nursun and I finished our interview with Manvelyan, Luisa Pogosyan handed us sheets of paper with the names of the students. Twelve students were willing to work with me, four of them wished to work with Elmir and six of them with Nursun Erel.
Aram Simonyan
Aram Simonyan: the inhospitable rector of State University
Vahram Martirosyan
Nursun Erel trying to make out: Why she was deprived of the students?


I am sitting with my students. There are eleven girls and one boy in my group. That is the very Nikolay who had that bad habit of reading Day.Az. I asked my students which question they would like to discuss with me. During a five-minute discussion, we came to an agreement that throughout the subsequent days the subject of our classes would be “The role of mass media in the settlement of conflicts and destruction of an enemy’s image.”

Toward the end of the project each of the students was to write an article on this subject and in my turn I bound myself to publish them in Azerbaijan. (The materials written by us in Baku and Nursun Erel in Ankara will be published in the Armenian Press).

Our dialog was a success. It was easy and simple to communicate with them. No tension was felt in the atmosphere. All of them seemed to be nice, honest and open who have not seen a war in their life and have just heard about it through the stories of their elders. Based on the stories told by their elders, they knew that they had enemies, namely, Azerbaijanian and Turkish people. And now for the first time in their life they met with Azerbaijanians and saw them very closely and even socialized with them. I was asked to tell about our young people. What do young people in Azerbaijan think of Armenia, Armenians and what is their attitude towards them? I had no right to lie to them and answered the question very honestly: “Most of people have an opinion that Armenians are enemies and invaders”. They knowingly nodded their heads.

I don’t remember how long we were chatting, most likely, two hours, if not more, when suddenly Nursun Erel rushed to our table and very emotionally began to jabber:
- You know, what happened?! Somebody called my students and demanded them to leave the hotel and not to communicate with Turkish people. How awful! Translate this to your students.

As it turned our later, the call was made from the university administration of Yerevan State University. The students were required to return to the university and not to communicate with their enemies. As a result, Nursun Erel whose students were from Yerevan State University remained all alone without any students. Twelve students of mine were not going anywhere. All of them were from Slavonic University and they were not forbidden to communicate with us. I was lucky. So was Elmir.

Nursun Erel was standing at the window and trying to make out why she was deprived of the students? A depressing atmosphere was escalating.
Press conference


Press conference Press conference Press conference Press conference Press conference
Our students from Slavonic University were already waiting for us who were seated at the rear rows. I waved to them and Elmir sent his air kiss.
Press conference
There were also a few refugees from Baku. One of them enquired: Why we can’t go to Baku so easily?
Our dear reader may remember how unfortunate Nursun Erel was with the students from Yerevan State University. Despite the fact that she was deprived of her students, a fishbone of “Sevan trout” stuck in her throat.

While she was holding her throat and coughing, the Armenians sitting at the table cracked a joke that the fish had a strong character and didn’t digest Turkish people, accordingly it was not digested in the stomachs of Turks. Considering the fact that the fishbones of Sevan trout being very sensitive to Turkic digestive system didn’t stuck in Elmir’s and my throats, we were happy to declare that we were not Turks and just Azerbaijanians. Being Azerbaijanians we had to help Nursun.

I was not very much worried. I just offered her to drink mineral water ‘Jermuk’ and everything would be OK (I don’t know why but I was sure the mineral water would do her good). But Elmir didn’t calm down. He was either jumping or offering her a salt-cellar, advised her to take an aspirin, rinse her throat with manganese solution and in the end he became so enraged that he lost his control and wanted to do her an artificial respiration.

Out Turkish woman disliked a similar formality. In a hoarse voice of hers she asked Elmir to calm down and continue eating the Sevan trout. After this she went upstairs to her room (I think she might have cried a lot in her room and then fallen asleep). But let our reader not think that Nursun’s ordeals and hardships were over! She would have to go through the steep turn of Hell. But this will be told a bit later.

All these incidents happened on the 28th in the evening. On the 29th in the morning Nursun looked rather good and fresh though she continued dropping that loathsome mixture in her tea. All of us were ready for the conference which was to take place at 11.00 in the “Yerevan” Hotel.

We arrived at the hotel in time. Our students from Slavonic University were already waiting for us who were seated at the rear rows. I waved to them and Elmir sent his air kiss. As soon as everybody took their seats, Georgi Vanyan declared the conference open. Photacameras were clicked and cameras began to work and a stream of questions was launched. It is clear that most of questions were addressed to Nursun. The journalists were interested in the events of 1915, closed frontiers, the eastern territory of Turkey and so on. Nursun Erel in her perfect English was trying to answer all the questions as much as she could. “She’d better go into politics”, I thought. “she could become a wonderful diplomat”. I shared my thoughts with Elmir. He nodded his head, thus, expressing his solidarity.

There were also questions concerning very prominent writers like Orkhan Pamuk, Elif Shafak and the notorious Article N.301 of Constitution Charter of Turkey on account of which the mentioned writers, as well as many others, were moved from one court to another and even they were behind the bars. Although the mentioned article states about the humiliation of Turkish people, state attributes, officials etc, but as a rule, in Turkey people recognizing “Armenian Genocide” fall under the legal effect of this article.

This is accounted for by the fact that the statement about perpetration of Genocide is a blasphemous slander and the humiliation of honour and merit of Turkish people, whose ancestors have not committed anything like that. Nursun Erel hoped that “in the near future they would succeed in amending this disgraceful article, because of which the process of democratization in Turkey is being slowed down and the freedom of speech is being suppressed”. “We journalists are fighting against this article and will continue our fight ever farther”, she declared. The Armenians present did like her words.

After this she told a story about some Taner Akchan, a writer-historian living in the USA who wrote a sensational book in which the author cites Ataturk where the latter admits the fact of “mass slaughter of Armenians and is very much ashamed for political leaders of those periods.”

After the book had come out, some journalists in Turkey began to criticize and accuse Akchma of treachery, misinterpretation and distortion of facts. One of them was Ertugrul Ozkok, the editor-in-chief of “Hurriet” newspaper. However, after he had familiarized himself with the archive data related to life and activity of Ataturk, he wrote an article in which he apologized for his accusatory attack directed against Akcham. “I have also read a couple of books in which I discovered that Ataturk did indeed say those words”, Nursun Erel summed up her speech and then added, “but I still can’t acknowledge the fact of genocide since I am not a historian and this question is outside my competence”.

Now it was our turn to answer the questions.

In addition to the journalists present at the conference there were also a few refugees from Baku who were seated in the second row. There were not more than ten and all of them were old ladies. One of them expressed her gratitude to us for our arrival in Yerevan and enquired why “we can’t go to Baku so easily?” (after the press conference I learnt that she was the chief of the office of the head of studies of one of Baku schools). We had no idea of the reason why Armenians can’t go to Baku. But we didn’t want to leave the question of the person unanswered who with trepidation recalled her homeland, quay and the house next to the monument to Samed Vurgun.

Elmir tried to answer her question:
- In the first place, don’t think that Azerbaijanians can easily and quietly come and go. If they do, then it’s done within some projects and with the permission of RA authorities. In the second place, before Armenians also could come to us. After Ilham Aliev came to power, the situation changed a bit. Although the other days officers of your Ministry of Internal Affairs visited us. Nevertheless, they still did visit us.

- Does you president indeed disallow you to come?

- I don’t mean that he does. But the fact is that after Ilham Aliev came to power, the number of visits of Armenians decreased. Perhaps our government resolved that it was for the better. Maybe they are unable to guarantee our safety and defend us from unpredictable people. Believe me, I don’t know the reasons.

As for Baku, which remains to be your homeland, we also have refugees from Armenia which also remains to be their homeland. These people were born and grew up there and still there are in no condition to come here, the same with you. All of them are hostages of the situation, of the unsettled conflict. Even Georgians are surprised at the frontier when they see an Azerbaijanian ready to cross Armenia …

I also decided to answer them:
- I am very often faced with the question like “why do we, Armenians, very quietly and peacefully go to Turkey, but at the same time we can’t go to Azerbaijan?”. I don’t want my words to hurt you but you probably forget that Turkey is an empire! It was a former empire in which many peoples live there. That’s why Turks are not suffering from inferiority complex the same way as you and we are. We are dwarfish states, small, insignificant, frivolous countries which will be unjust to compare with the country which ruled one third of the world over the centuries.

We are not willing to see Armenians in our country for one reason that they occupy our territory and at first they have to return it to us and only later we will be able to adjust our relations with them. I think it is a kind of punishment, not to allow Armenians to come to Baku and “full stop”.
A student from Istanbul
Merhaba. My name’s Melissa. I am a student and study in Yerevan. I came from Istanbul
Students, Yerevan Nursun Erel, Yerevan
Having lost all her students, Nursun now was very much delighted to have found two of them.


After the conference was over we were sitting in the hotel lobby, drinking a cup of tea and discussing our further plans.

Elmir lighted up a cigarette and began to curse Russia which was in no hurry to occupy South Caucasus for the second time and wipe all of us out.

Nursun advised him not to hurry for it will eventually happen at the speed of light and began to write something in her notebook. Suddenly she cried out: “Internet!”

It looked like the Wireless network intended for the guests of “Yerevan” hotel started to work in her computer. But since Nursun was not the guest of “Yerevan” hotel she was unable to use the Internet for more than a minute. A nice girl came up to her and asked her to pay 2.000 drams or to switch off her Wireless. Nursun flatly refused to pay 2.000 drams (equivalent to 5 dollars) and simply shut down her computer and began to stare at us with those sad eyes of hers.

I don’t remember how long we were having a tedious time in the lobby, when a beautiful blonde approached and greeted us in Turkish:
- Merhaba.

Three of us stared at her in surprise. She was not over twenty-two or twenty-three years old. Being slightly embarrassed, she introduced herself:
- My name’s Melissa.

It is not surprising that there are many Turks in Armenia. But most of them are lorry drivers delivering Turkish goods to Armenia. And this girl didn’t look like such drivers at all. She had an Istanbul accent. She was speaking by prolonging vowels on the last syllable.

- Are you a journalist?, I asked.

- No, not at all. I am a student and study in Yerevan. I came from Istanbul.

Elmir, Nursun and I were staring at her very indecently. Apparently, Melissa having read perplexity in our eyes, decided to shed a light to this “monstrous” fact , and said that she was studying Turkish in Yerevan.

- I am an Armenian. How to say, I am from a Turkish Diaspora.

Nursun and she became friends at once. And not only she. One more Armenian from the Diaspora was standing next to Melissa who most probably was following her (or on the contrary). But this guy was from Syria and his name was Movses. He was a tall, handsome young man and he expressed his readiness to work with the experienced journalist from Turkey. He added that he was ashamed of the act of the rector of Yerevan State University. Having lost all her students, Nursun now was very much delighted to have found two new students and gladly agreed to work with them.

A couple of days later, Melissa would tell her that the most hateful Diaspora for Armenians is the Turkish one. According to Armenians it is the Armenian Diaspora in Turkey which is regarded to be passive, venal and all their representatives to be conformists and bourgeoises.

As for Melissa, she was supposed to be called “Turk” in Yerevan and “deprived of having anything Armenian”. What could that mean?

Talking of Yerevan State University. I forgot to point out that Georgi Vanyan several times called the rector of Yerevan State University and tried to persuade him to allow the students to attend the classes. The rector radically refused by saying that he can’t allow the Armenian Youth to communicate with the representatives of hostile for Armenians nation.

“An official is an official even in Africa”, - we reminded Georgi, thus, trying to console him. As a matter of fact, I haven’t seen that rector and I can’t assume that he is a big-bellied, wearing a bureaucrat’s tie and isn’t distinguished in anything from Azerbaijan bureaucrats. Thanks to the rector, all the statements made by the Armenian authorities, patriots and simply persons of narrow interests as to how tolerant and indulgent people Armenians are, burst like a soap-bubble.

The students of YSU deserve a praise. In succeeding days they called us and expressed their willingness to meet with Nursun Erel who appealed to them very much in spite of the fact that they were forbidden to meet her. They said that they felt ashamed for the administration of the university.

Hearing this news, Nursun burst into tears and said that young people in Armenia inspire a hope in her which will favour the settlement of existing antagonism between Armenia and Turkey. “Marasmic people in Turkey and Armenia hindering our dialog have to leave the political arena and give in this arena to the young generation”. These words belong to Nursun Erel. The organizers of this project worrying about the fate of the students who can be very easily expelled from the university or punished based on “dashnaks methods”, advised them not to go against the university administration and quit their communication with “enemies” for better times which in all probability will not come soon.

As for me and Elmir, we were very much satisfied with our students who, as I already said, came to our conference. They took pride in the management of their university which didn’t forbid them to meet with us. When I said that I would write a few nice words about their university they were happy as children. In the meantime Nursun was preparing the draft material in which she was going to write something about Yerevan State University and show to the Turkish reader how bad people the Armenian rectors are!

- I don’t understand, - she was indignant. What harm can I do to the students? After all they have a lot of questions about Turkey. I want to tell them how the Armenian church Akhtamar in Van was restored, about the fact that the ruins of Ani are under the protection of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. I was going to tell them about our Armenian neighbours who taught me to knit. After all our communication would them good!

Elmir and I were trying to console her:
- Although the notion “dashnak” is an Armenian word, but dashnaks are everywhere. I am dead certain that there are lots of similar people in Turkey as well. You see, young people wish to communicate with us. It means that everything is not lost yet. Don’t worry.
Student, Yerevan Student, Yerevan Students, Yerevan
Тhey thought to themselves:
“What a maniac arrived from Baku?!”


At the next lesson my students and I discussed our conflict together and the way out of the deadlock situation, as well as about the destruction of stereotypes, and talked which genre my students would use in their materials.

I wished very much at least one of my twelve students would write something in an epatage genre, and jeer at the nations of South Caucasus, our primitive war, our imaginary Caucasian pride, greed and stupidity. - Well, which of you will take up this work? Who will dare to laugh at yourself?

Elmir sitting at the next table with his students cried out:
- I have found one student. One of my students has taken this subject: “How a foreigner can adapt himself to life conditions of Armenia” and he will write an essay on the subject “I am a negro”. And this will be a view from an outsider. The negro is supposed to talk about the difficulties and obstacles he is facing in Armenia, about his likes and dislikes, about the way of life, their traditions and way of thinking. Well, how do you like it?

- The idea is superb, - I answered. But that’s not what I really require. Don’t disturb us from working!

Turning to the students, I said:
- Elmir is a culturologist, don’t pay attention to him. We need to make up something defiantly, containing lots of irony, cynicism. For instance, my first book, the collection of verses was called “I am a scumbag”, where I personify my lyrical “I” into an image of “great martyr” assuming all the misfortunes and sins of people unmasking myself as “the only scumbag in Azerbaijan”. Only through a similar acceptance I have a direct access to the sobering instructions as it were the “true path”.

Think well. I don’t want your peacemaking texts to be repeated one after another. In case all people write in the type of “let’s live peacefully”, then this fact will bring about a distrust in Baku. The growing number of people doesn’t believe in sincerity of Armenians, in exactly the same way Azerbaijanians are not trusted in Armenia. That’s why the so-called “tender” texts should be written as fewer as possible. I understand that you still have a long life to live in this country, but try to use as many epatages, mockeries and negative statements as possible.

Try to be higher than all other nationalistic feelings, mock at patriotism with an implication of hatred for a certain nation. Don’t write concrete stuff about Armenians, Azerbaijanians and Georgians. Embrace the entire South Caucasus and jeer at this idiotic region. Write absurd things. I don’t insist and, if you can, curse your destiny for being born in the South Caucasus. In this small region where there is so much hatred everywhere. Hatred, war, blood and tears. OK?

In the evening the screening of the film “All for the better” shot by an Azerbaijan director Vagif Mustafaev will be held. Watch the film and it may give you some prompt. The guys, apparently, were in a state of shock. Most probably, they thought to themselves: “What a maniac arrived from Baku?!”
Student, Yerevan
Watch the film and it may give you some prompt


In the evening, as promised, we brought all the students together before the screen of the telly and showed a short film “All for the better” shot by Vagif Mustafaev (In my opinion it is the peak of his creative work). The students watched the film with great interest and started to understand what I wanted from them.

After the screening of the film, we held discussions. Various opinions could be heard. But all of them were of the common opinion that the film was very necessary and good. Somebody baptized Vagif Mustafaev as an “Azerbaijan Kusturica” and somebody even said that the film was once shown on some Armenian channel.

We were happy to hear that.
Hrachya Acharyan University


Alekper Aliyev
I rose from my seat and thanked the rector Mr. Hrachya Acharyan.
Student Student Student Student Student Student Student Student
Elmir’s and my students. Their presence stood out due to their smiles, winking eyes and nods as a sign of support.
The dean of the faculty
of the International Relations
The dean of the faculty of the International Relations sitting in the front row demanded that Nursun Erel be correct.
The dean of the faculty
of the International Relations
The representatives of the Embassy of Great Britain seemed to be feeling uncomfortable.
According to our timetable we were to go to the university after Hrachya Acharyan and deliver a speech before the students of the faculty of journalism. The university was founded on February 22, 1991. It is located in the center of Yerevan and somehow reminds us of our Western University.

Nursun Erel was to be the first to speak. She was sitting next to me and was preparing a summary of her speech in English. I noticed that in the chapter of her speech she wrote the name of Mr.Acharyan, whom we should thank for the opportunity to meet with the students.

“Apparently the rector is Hrachya Acharyan himself”, I thought. And I decided to make this information more precise it.

- Are you going to thank Acharyan?

- Yes, sure. I advise you to do so.

In my notebook I made some note.

The officials of the Embassy of Great Britain were also present in the classroom who had come to observe the course of the lecture. Elmir’s and my students from Slavonic University were also present. Like in the press conference they were all seated at the rear rows. Their presence stood out due to their smiles, winking eyes and nods as a sign of support. By God, they inspired in us some confidence and strength!

Nursun Erel began her speech in English. She was delivering almost the same speech which she was speaking at the press conference. But this time, for some reason, she made up her mind to touch upon the subject of Karabakh conflict, refugees, told about a camp town in Imishli which she had visited a couple of years ago while in Azerbaijan.

- These people are living under terrible conditions. In summer they suffer from heat, in winter they fight against cold. How long is it going to last? We shouldn’t lose our time, we have to put an end to this conflict. For the prosperity of the region it is required to undertake certain steps …

All of a sudden, a girl sitting in the middle of the classroom, rose from her seat, muttered something under her nose and as a sign of protest stalked out of the classroom. Ignoring the unpleasant incident, Nursun Erel went on with her speech with even more enthusiasm:

- Millions of refugees … Resolutions of UNO etc.

Then she began telling a heart-rendering story about refugees. Elmir and I were taken aback since we meant to answer the questions related to Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict and at the same time try to avoid the disputes concerning the genocide, frontiers, Armenian monuments on the territory of Turkey and so on. After all, this is the main reason of our arrival in Yerevan.

And now because of the intervention of a Turkish journalist in the matter that she is not well aware of, a student had to stalk out of the classroom, while half of the audience, if not more, conceived a hatred for her.

The atmosphere in the classroom was becoming tense. Some of them were irritated by the “invasion” of Turks which was evident from the expression of their faces. Young people see a living Turks for the first time in their life - according to some myths, they were blood-suckers, murderers and guileful creatures.

When it was my turn to read my lecture about “The condition of Mass Medias in Azerbaijan”, I rose from my seat and thanked the rector Mr. Hrachya Acharyan for the opportunity to speak before the students of the faculty of journalism.

Hardly had I said a word when the whole audience burst into laughter. Students, the teaching staff, the representatives of the Embassy of Great Britain and Caucasus Center of Peace-Making Initiatives (CCPMI) began to laugh. Look around I thought “I wonder if somebody here took off his trousers.” The dean came up to me and said, trying hard to stifle his laughter.

- Acharyan is not a rector and there is nobody in the university by that name. Acharyan, a late Hrachya, is a man’s name which our university bears.

Thanks to this little misunderstanding, the tension in the classroom vanished right away. All of them were smiling and ready to listen to my monologue up to the end with great pleasure. I had no wish to give in. Pointing to Nursun who was getting on my nerves I sternly declaimed: “It is all her fault!”. And Nursun in her turn pointed to the translator and objected to me by saying: “She is the instigator and not me!”. The translator smiled confusedly and apologized for misleading the guests. After this incident I commenced reading my report.

The students were listening with great attention. I told them about the end of 1980s, when the first independent newspaper appeared in Azerbaijan, I told them about the censorship and the monopoly of the only printing-house of those periods, about the abolition of censorship, about the emergence of new printing-houses in our country, about the assassination of Elmar Guseinov, the close of newspapers and ANS TV channel .

I also told them about a few journalists of ours who very easily operate on such concepts as “spy”, “enemy” as if trying on a mantle of “public prosecutors”.

- Moreover, the right of the opposing party for the expression of the personal viewpoint is not taken into consideration. Thus, so far dozens of journalists and NGOs have been declared to be traitors who visited the neighbouring Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh which is recognized by the entire world community as the integral part of Azerbaijan. They are not interested in the opinion of Elmar Mamedyarov, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan who declared that he had no objection to the visits of Azerbaijanians to Nagorno Karabakh. “Karabakh is our land and they have all the rights to go for trips there.” This is the official viewpoint and position of the authorities of Azerbaijan.

Judging from the estimates of the teachers and the students who came up to me after my speech, they did enjoy my report which seemed to be rather objective and impartial. I was even told in private that all what I told them can be easily related to Armenia.

- Your Mass Medias are the exact copy of ours.

I didn’t feel much better after this confession.

In the second part of the event, the students were given an opportunity to ask the guests their questions. I think, it may be too much to say, that the first questions were addressed to Nursun Erel. Many times she agreed to the fact of deportation of Armenians, but she seemed not to call it genocide. The dean of the faculty of the International Relations sitting in the front row rose from his seat and demanded that Nursun Erel be correct in her speech and keep to the point. Georgi Vanyan became furious at this: - How dare you display such an impatience to dissidence, Mr. Dean!? - Georgi was indignant. – Your students are present here! Do you teach such things to your students?

Tomorrow’s diplomats of Armenia sitting face to face with the opponents at international meetings will not be able to master the skill of diplomacy thanks to you and if there is a slight disagreement with the opponent, he will be asked to be correct in his speech and keep to the point. And this fact will dishonour all of us!? Do you understand what you are doing!?

The situation was becoming heated. Elmir’s and my students sitting at the rear rows began asking us questions. One of the students named Anahit took a few steps towards us and was stopped by the dean of the faculty of journalism.

- Who are you?

- I am a student of Slavonic University.

The dean burst out.

- What are you talking about? What Slavonic university? Only our students have a right to ask questions here. And what are you doing here?

The students of Slavonic university were insulted by these words. The students said with pride that they were not going to stay at that university even a minute and started for the door. One of the students passing us said:
- See you in the hotel.

I forced a smile and uttered with difficulty:
- Sure, by all means. And then, I don’t know why, added - I am sorry, for God’s sake …

The representatives of the Embassy of Great Britain seemed to be feeling uncomfortable. I could even see the expression of disappointment and anxiety on the face of one of the girls named Armine. Luiza Pogosyan was biting her nails, Georgi Vanyan was rolling the cigarette between his fingers and Elmir was drawing a swastika on the desk with a pencil. The dean put an end to this uncertain situation when suddenly, to our great surprise, he declared about the end of the meeting. Everybody breathed with relief.

A tall girl of a divine beauty came up to me in the hall. Her name was Lusine. In a soft voice she said that she is the representative of Internews and would like to interview me.

- I’d love to. But the dean of the faculty of journalism is inviting us to his study for a cup of coffee, - I answered, and deep in my heart I was cursing the man who was the first in the history to make coffee and impose it on mankind.

- We can meet at our office, - she suggested.

- With great pleasure. What time?

- At 18.00. Is that all right with you?

- Agreed.

We stayed in the dean’s study less than half an hour. He treated us to coffee and chocolate and told about the university (As it turns out, 2.500 students are studying at 15 faculties). In the end he presented us with advertising pamphlets of the university.

Our stomachs were empty and we promptly needed to fill them up. We decided to go to “Smack” cafe on Abovyan street next to which there was a small Internet club, where Elmir and I enjoyed spending our time reading the local and Armenian press so as to learn how our visit to Armenian was being highlighted.
Alekper Aliyev, Yerevan
I wrote the address of PanARMENIAN and was about to fall over from my seat.


After I had familiarized myself with the reel of news at Day.Az and checked my e-mail, I mechanically wrote the address of PanARMENIAN News Agency and was about to fall over from my seat. On the first page I saw the interview of Nursun Erel with the abundance of the word “genocide” used without inverted commas and in capital letters. Being well-acquainted with Nursun Erel and her attitude to this question, I immediately understood that somebody’s “skilful” hands worked on this interview. Yes, Nursun did really agree to the fact of deportation, mass shootings, executions and she could even afford to use the word “slaughter”, but by no means the word “genocide” on account of which Turkey could simply be sent behind the bars in accordance with Article 301 of Charter Constitution of Turkey.

I closed the window and came up to Elmir.

- Have you read PanARMENIAN?

- Yes, I have. I know what you are going to tell me… He became thoughtful a bit and then added, “We won’t tell her about it.”

Though it was not the solution of the problem, but I couldn’t but agree with Elmir. We came to Smack where Georgi and Luiza were waiting for us. I told them what had happened in the Internet club.

“We are not going to tell her about it.” I ended my story. “I don’t advise you to. This will upset her”. Georgi was amazed.

- She was in fact tripped up! Don’t they understand what can happen to her in Turkey? We will demand that they refute the information.
Nursun Erel, Yerevan
Why did they treat me so badly?!
Alekper Aliyev, Yerevan
I think, it may last for about a month at the minimum.
Elmir Mirzoyev, Yerevan
I can already imagine the titles of several newspapers: “A Turkish journalist recognizing genocide is walking in Yerevan with two Azerbaijanians”.


I can’t say that Nursun Erel is unfortunate in life, but in Yerevan she was indeed unlucky.

In the hotel Georgi asked me to tell her what had happened and ask her not to become anxious because Georgi would try to settle the matter.

- Why did they treat me so badly?-, Nursun was indignant, -What an inferiority complex! How little one needs for complete happiness! To write a few words on behalf of a Turk that she recognizes genocide and get crazy, crazy about it… Yes?! And how many days will this happiness last?

- I think, it may last for about a month at the minimum.

My words were equivalent to adding fuel to the fire. But it was the truth and I couldn’t lie to her.

- Awful! Does the website have an English version?

- I am afraid, yes. And in this version the word genocide is used without inverted marks and with capital letters.

- How sordid! How mean!

She began rushing to and fro, talking on the phone, calling somebody and answering somebody’s calls. Her hysterical state aroused sympathy and pain in the people around. In the end she couldn’t manage to control herself and burst into tears. This scene occurred in the presence of the students from Slavonic University. “You can’t have as simple practice as this!” - I thought, - “Where else can our future journalists see things like this?”

A few minutes later after she felt much better she came up to us and said:
- I reported this to Ankara and my editor consoled me. They are not going to believe in PanARMENIAN and even got insulted because of my naivety. God be praised! Can you imagine he began to laugh at me and said that they already got accustomed to similar disinformation and advised me to ignore and keep working. Thank God, thank God, repeated Nursun and dialed somebody’s number with her trembling hands. I am calling to my husband, she said and walked away.

- Well, we have settled this problem, I told Georgi and Luiza. My congratulations.

- Still early to be happy, - Elmir objected to me shaking off the cigarette-end onto the floor, - It is in Turkey that she is trusted. And what will they think of her in Azerbaijan? I can already imagine the titles of several newspapers: “A Turkish journalist recognizing genocide is walking in Yerevan with two Azerbaijanians”.

Luiza looked up suddenly in surprise.
- I think you are exaggerating.

- As a matter of fact he is not exaggerating, I interfered. If the Armenian Press writes that “Alekper Aliev presented Karabakh to Armenia” or “adopted Gregorian Belief”, many people will believe in this news and without enquiring from me what has indeed happened they will start throwing mud at me at the same time screwing their eyes from pleasure. The same would occur in Armenia. Is that so?

- In this case we’ll ask Nursun to write a text of refutation. We can’t be sure that there will be people in Turkey wishing to believe in what is written in PanARMENIAN, said Georgi.

Elmir grinned.
- And are you sure that PanARMENIAN will publish the text of refutation? Personally, I don’t believe. It’s not Europe! And it’s not even Russia! We are in South Caucuses. We regarded refutations as a shame and disgrace, even grease stain on one’s reputation. Moreover, if we deal with such a matter as an attribution of the word “Genocide” to a Turkish citizen.

Georgi inhaled the cigarette smoke and let it out through his nose and then said in a voice which lacked any objection:
- I don’t care much about it. You can write the text of refutation. If necessary I can hold a press conference. I won’t allow my guest to suffer because of these people.

Having ended the telephone conversation with her husband, Nursun joined us.

Three day after these events, PanARMENIAN refused flatly to publish the refutation. Instead, Nursun Erel was suggested to “edit” at the back date already published and duplicated text of the distorted and misinterpreted interview in other mass medias. The Turkish journalist categorically objected to this proposal. Nursun Erel wrote “The appeal to PanARMENIAN editorial staff” which CCPMI sent to the certain address with the demand to publish it. After this the file of the interview of Nursun Erel was removed from the website of PanARMENIAN News Agency. In other words, it disappeared from the website after it had been read by thousands of people.

Georgi Vanyan elected the path of the distribution of Nursun Erel’s refutation text through all informational agencies of the world, including Azerbaijan.

Once again he became a “traitor” sympathizing with Turks.
Alekper Aliyev and students


Alekper Aliyev  and students
Two hundred students seemed to be ready to listen to an Azerbaijan culturologist-composer.
Elmir Mirzoyev Elmir Mirzoyev Elmir Mirzoyev
Hyper-painful and thermonuclear monologue beat a black Apocalypse inspiring horror in the audience
Today we are to meet with the students with whom we meet everyday, in other words, we are expected in the Russian-Armenian (Slavonic) University. It is true, that unlike Acharyan, this time Elmir Mirzoev was to deliver his speech in the Slavonic university. He prepared well for his report which bore a bizarre title “Global crisis of culture which didn’t affect Azerbaijan which was protected with kyamancha and tar”.

As scheduled, at 12 o’clock in the afternoon we were already sitting in an assembly room of Slavonic University intended for 600 people. About two hundred students came to see us (not counting our sixteen students). They seemed to be ready to listen to an Azerbaijan culturologist-composer and some of them even were armed with dictaphones and notebooks. Not being aware of the «sufferings” they were to go through, the students were watching us very attentively and with great interest. After Georgi Vanyan and the dean of the faculty of journalism had made their introductory speeches, Elmir Mirzoev went up to the stage, coughed a bit and started to speak.

His speech was long. He was saying very awful things which were difficult to be apprehended not only by the students, but even by the professors, doctors of science and associate professors who were seated at the rear rows.

His “hyper-painful” and “thermonuclear” monologue beat a black Apocalypse inspiring horror in the audience. It was a menacing warning of the impendent hurricane ready to collapse and wipe out everybody and everything on its way. It was awfully evil which was beyond any comparison with the Chinese torture. Some of the students who took care of their health were gradually leaving the hall, with an expression of horror in the eyes. The number of the audience decreased up to fifteen people.

I know, I know that the reader is intrigued. Above all, I am not greedy, I can share a piece of his monologue with pleasure.

“The mass culture is the leader of our modern civilization, a peculiar and original “business card” of the USA and one of the pillars of modern North American or even Anglo-Saxon civilization. And if the high culture of the USA is mostly the continuation of the European cultural tradition, then the modern American pop-culture is a genuine American production. As for Azerbaijan, the conception about the endless chain of cycles, each team of which is a new mankind, has a precise formula in the Azerbaijan metaphysics: our glorious moghamme and the permanent sound of kyamancha, is the rhythm of the revival of disappearance similar to inhalation and exhalation, which allegedly produces an endless and bottomless foundation thanks to which the manifestation of being emerges.

This old tradition generates vision in the world, so impressive humanity, the rotation of the great heaven as “the wheel of fate” which brings and takes away the same reality into the same spatio-temporal point of existence, like in a fair merry-go round each figure on which people sit goes through one and the same point and takes them away.

I am sure that by calling our mughamme and the sound of kyamancha “Eternal return of the equal” – the great Frederic Nietzsche went mad from horror.

Our culture presumes a spiral and not a wheel and the untwisting with no limited number of manifestation goes through the points lying next to it, but not coinciding properly. Therefore, we are not the part of culture and the global crisis didn’t affect us”. The end of quotation.

In this sadism was Elmir Mirzoev engaged in! But it’s just the beginning. After the end of his monologue, Elmir declared that he was intending to read a verse by Paul Celane “Todesfuge”, first in German and then if time permitted, he would recite the same in Russian.

Without noticing the dean sitting in the font row, who was waving his hands and begging him to stop this “torture”, Elmir commenced reading the verse.

Schwarze Milch der Fruhe wir trinken sie abends
wir trinken sie mittags und morgens wir trinken sie nachts
wir trinken und trinken
wir schaufeln ein Grab in den Luften da liegt man nicht eng etc.

Georgi Vanyan was about to fall off his seat and Luiza Pogosyan covering her face with her hands was either crying or laughing, I didn’t quite understand. Having demonstrated his verse in the manner of “Hebbels”, as promised, he got down to reading the same verse in Russian:

The black milk of dawn we drink in the evening,
We drink it in the afternoon and in the morning,
And in the night we drink,
We dig a grave in the heaven, lying there is very comfortable,
A man is living in the house who plays with snakes and writes,
He writes as soon as it gets dark, in Germany the sun tress of yours, Margarita,
He will write it and leave the house, stars are shining and whistles from own hounds,
He whistles his own Jews, let them dig a grave in the ground,
He tells us, play something to dance.

Suddenly, from my right side I felt irregular breathing of the dean who happened to be sitting next to me by a miracle.

- He frightens my children, - said the dean, uttering each word very distinctly. What kind of man is this Elmir Mirzoev? Where did you find him? He can’t be an Azerbaijanian!!! He seems to be a German! He is almost a fascist! What is Nietzsche to do with this? What does he want from us?

- Mr. Dean, can’t you endure him a couple of hours? Just imagine, I am sharing the same room with him in the hotel!

I could see that I was unable to arouse compassion in the dean who simply didn’t give a damn about my sufferings. I could also see that if this “nightmare” went on, then half the students would hang themselves, and Georgi with Luiza would simply cut their veins and as a result, we would be guilty of genocide.

In the meantime Elmir was going on:

…He is calling deep into the ground, you are here and there, play and sing,
he catches hold of the belt as buckle and waves with his blue eyes,
stick the spades deeper, you are here and there, play again to dance…

As soon as he finished reading the verse, I ran up to the stage to the applause of the audience. People were looking at me as a saviour. The students were ready to kiss me and the organizers were ready to award me with the degree of an honorable doctor of Slavonic University. Elmir put away the pile of his paper and said in a whisper:
- You like it?
- Elmir, are you kidding?
- Why? I have been preparing for this report for around a month.
- We’ll talk about it over dinner, - I said and turning to the audience I exclaimed, - we are ready to answer your questions.

A microphone appeared out of nowhere and started wandering in the hall. People seemed to be scared of Elmir and that’s why they decided not to ask him any questions. While we were in the Slavonic University, Nursun Erel was interviewing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and that’s the reason why she didn’t come to the University. I remained alone and all the questions were meant for me.

A woman of an average age, professor of some sciences (I don’t clearly remember now), with a book in her hand very sternly asked me a question:
- Mr. Aliev. The book that I am holding in my hand was published by the Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan. Its cover bears the photo of our ancient, pre-Christian pagan temple of Garni. This temple is on the territory of Armenia and has no relation with Azerbaijan. Why does your Academy of Sciences publish such books and falsify the history?

- Madam, you might be taking me for another person. I am not representing the Academy of Science of Azerbaijan. By the way do you know who I am and what I think of all sorts of “Academy of Sciences”? After the collapse of the USSR, five stupid republics were formed in the Middle Asia and three stupid republics were formed in the South Caucasus. The Turkmen proved to be the most sincere nation who abolished the Academy of Science.

If I had my way, I would abolish all the remaining ones and, thus, put an end to these senseless disputes about “dolma”, “kyamancha”, “duduk”, “Manas”, “kumis” and the pre-Christian temple. What Academy of Sciences? What science? Do you really believe that serious Academy of Sciences existed in the post-soviet area, besides Russia? I am fed up with these disputes. I heard in Baku that you rob us, here you say that we Azerbaijanians rob you. You can address you question to the Academy of Science of Azerbaijan, argue with them. I have nothing to do with this matter.

To my great sudden, the audience began to applaud. I was shocked. I thought they would start arguing with me and prove that the “the ancient Academy of Science of Armenia is the best in the world”. But thank God, it didn’t happen. “We need to get rid of stereotypes”. While I was thinking at this very moment I was asked another question:
- Please tell us about Azerbaijan youth. What do you think is the difference between our and your youth?

One shouldn’t be an expert to see this difference.

- Externally, the Azerbaijan youth is the exact copy of the Armenian one. I don’t absolutely see any difference between them. But the only distinction is in the clothes. I have already attended two institutes of higher education of Yerevan and have not seen a single student wearing a suit and especially a tie. Frankly, I did like it.

In Azerbaijan one can still see a student wearing a suit. But such students are getting fewer and fewer year by year. Talking of the girls, your girls and ours wear in good taste. In general, an Azerbaijan woman is more interesting in communication than a man is. We have more intellectually-developed women than men. These are my modest observations.

The girls sitting in the hall welcomed my speech with a storm of applauses. Somebody even cried out:
- In Armenia too.
Sergey Parajanov
Parajanov, although he was an Armenian, he is also a man without nationality.


Within the cultural program of the project after the Slavonic University we were to visit the house museum of the great Sergey Parajanov.

The house museum of Parajanov is a two-storied and beautiful building which had a breath of culture, history and the brotherhood of nations which the Russians were unsuccessfully attempting to propagate and spread in our region for over 70 years.

“Parajanov, although he was an Armenian, he is also a man without nationality”. This is how our composer Javanshir Kuliev spoke of him. Javanshir Kuliev worked with Parajanov on the film “Ashug Kerib”. It is Javanshir Kuliev from whom I first heard a similar story about the life and creative work of this great Parajanov, after which I watched all his films. And now I am lucky to be in the house museum of this director (in which he has never lived).

The guide of the museum, a young girl, a sportswoman and even a former Baku resident, commenced to introduce us to the exhibits, pictures, paintings and at the same time she was telling some episodes from Parajanov’s life. From the first minutes I understood that her knowledge strongly different from that of Javanshir Kuliev’s and the entire progressive mankind’s, in general. It seems to me that she was deliberately concealing the facts of hard periods of the director’s life, when he went out of prison and was unable to return to Kiev and decided to go to his historical homeland, Armenia. But it turned out that nobody was expecting him in Armenia. “We don’t need homosexuals”. This is the phrase that Parajanov was welcomed in his homeland. Afterwards, he had to go back to Tbilisi, the city where he was born and grew up. There he met with the Georgian director named Chkheidze who accepted him to work in his film studio. By the way, he never shot the film “Ashug Kerib” to which Javanshir Kuliev wrote music. Thus, Parajanov decided to stay in Tbilisi and died there.

I don’t know what else can be told about Parajanov? Certainly, if I were a cinematographer or a culturologist like Elmir, I would provide the reader with very rich information related to Parajanov. But, unfortunately, I won’t manage to do it. And even if I succeed then I don’t think the information will suffice my readers.

After the museum we went to dine in “Smack”.
Club meeting Club meeting Club meeting Club meeting
The elite of the Armenian society and our students got together


The “Pressing” club operates under the newspaper “168” hours. AT 18.00 in the evening a discussion of an urgent subject “The image of the enemy in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkey” was held. Elmir was, as always, smoking, thus, turning the small room in which the elite of the Armenian society and our students got together, into a gas chamber. Even heavy smokers decided not to smoke, since Elmir’s smoke was rather enough for all of them.

Let me divert from the subject.

Today, the most fashionable literary technique is the following formula:
“Use whatever at you hand and don’t try to invent a bicycle”. If something has been written before you do, then you can quietly take it and replicate it in your name and this will not be considered as plagiarism. In any case, you can’t write better. In this part of my diary, I wish to resort to this very genre, thus, citing a pseudo fascistic newspaper “Voice of Armenia”.

A few days later, after our round-table discussion at the newspaper “168” hours, “Voice of Armenia” published a material which read: “The problem that we are not successful in this direction (the destruction of an enemy’s image – A.A.) and many others remain to be at dilettante and, what is worse, at a short-term interpretation level which was the proof of the mentioned meeting, the main peculiarity of which was the participation of natural enemies in the image of Turkish and Azerbaijan journalists.”

Declaring us the natural enemies without any quotation marks, some journalist from “Voice of Armenia” became indignant because of a few phrases uttered by Armenians at the round table, in particular:
- Today, creating an image of an enemy makes difficulties for the world to come.
- It would be better not to create an image of an enemy, but to struggle against it.
- Where are we going? We are providing deep knowledge of military training.
- In reality, the so-called image of an enemy has been contrived by our teachers of social sciences.
- If this image is not created by us, then it doesn’t exist in reality.
- Instead of struggling against the image of an enemy, we have to do our best not to create and so on and so forth.

I wonder what felonious information the above-mentioned citations contain. But “Voice of Armenia” supposes that Armenians ought to have provided us with the following information: “If a stranger invades into the country, occupies it and over a thousand years robs it, annihilates the native population, and as a result it ascribes this commitment of genocide to its territory, then do we need to have any “teachers of social sciences” in order to create an image of an enemy among the remaining part of the people”.

And that’s not the end. The basic problem which arouses excitement in the participants of “Pressing” club (deputies, writers, composers and journalists) is the struggle against the image of an enemy, the issue of its extermination and liquidation. “Voice of Armenia” suggests its own “formula” referring to the basic problem: “Partially this problem (the problem of an image of an enemy – A.A.) can be solved through the restoration of historical justice and punishment of guilty people. There are no alternative ways of the solution of this problem, in other words, the liquidation of an image of an enemy since all of them suggest a mutual solution, namely, to forget, to forgive and make friends.”

A familiar terminology, isn’t it? There were many people among the three countries present at the round table who wish to be at enmity for ever and ever. And this is a proved fact. Thus, “Voice of Armenia” encourages this tendency by proposing to cultivate the image of an enemy to an extreme. I wonder if a journalist from “Voice of Armenia” knows that Azerbaijan refugees, the families which fell victim to the war, invalids and simply the citizens are not going to forget anything either. It turns out to be a vicious circle? It really does. And what is the way out of it? An endless war? The answer for “Voice of Armenia” is YES.

Basically, I could tell more details about this meeting, which, certainly, did us good. But I wish to leave the reader face to face with the publication of the newspaper “Voice of Armenia”. I guess that words here will be unnecessary.

“In the course of our discussion (in “Pressing” club – A.A.) a series of questions were touched upon which had a relation with the matter of the discussion as if everything related to Azerbaijan and Turks have any relation to the image of an enemy. Thus, the participants of the meeting couldn’t but take the opportunity of the presence of their associates and started talking about Aram Simonyan, the rector of Yerevan State University who disallowed the students to communicate with the Turkish journalist. In our opinion, the rector took the only right decision, in addition to others, to show the unwelcome guests that there is a steadfast “boss” at least in the university who acts on basis of national position. The accuracy and right of the attitude of the rector is better confirmed by half-to-half position of the university after Acharyan, where having forgotten with whom they were dealing with, allowed Turks in and then the dean of the faculty of international relations had to demand them to be correct and keep to the point.Georgi Vanyan becoming boorish from impunity and the presence of familiar souls dares to call him a pseudo patriot and give orders as to what should be taught to our future diplomats.

Unlike him, Nursun Erel, the editor of the department of politics of the newspaper “The New Anatolian” who was not allowed to enter the university entrusted to him, is not depressed at all: “I want to say that there are brave students in Yerevan State University there and we conducted rather interesting work with them during these few days.” We are not condemning the Turkish journalist who dared to work with the students without having a permission from the administration of the university to work with the students. We are not reproaching the “brave” students, but we hope that once they grow up they will be able to understand who is who. We are simply thinking of the image of an enemy who entrusted the Armenian children to a Turk for “elaboration” or practice. They will also be able to make out the forms of relations and attitude of the Armenian Society towards themselves. There is no doubt that these national traitors (Caucasus Center of Peace-Making Initiatives represented by Georgi Vanyan – A.A.) will blame the teachers of social sciences or journalists for the creation of this image which doesn’t exist in reality.”

In the end, I would like to remind the journalist of a pseudo fascistic newspaper: The idea isn’t worth a penny, if it is too much vulnerable to resist the presence of the Turkish journalist. Don’t you think that you are insulting your own nation by putting forward this national idea from such a pitiful standpoint. You will not be forgiven for this.
Alekper Aliyev, Elmir Mirzoyev and Parajanov


After the end of the debates in the “Pressing” club and having said goodbye to the participants of the round table, Elmir and I paid a visit to Karen Aghajanyan, my old acquaintance, the administrator of one of the Armenian news portals.

The day before, Karen’s wife Alice promised us to make some unusual, original and foreign dish for supper. She guaranteed us: “you will lick your fingers”. She is not a cookery expert, she is a composer and teaches in Yerevan Conservatory. The young married couple don’t have children yet, but instead they have a Spaniel which doesn’t let them be bored. The Spaniel ran up to us, smelled us, waved its tail in an amicable way and idly ran back. The threat is all over. It appeared that Yerevanian Spaniel doesn’t bite Azerbaijanians.

As promised, Alice had cooked a delicious dish – a roast beef with spices and potatoes in the oven. Being half-Russian, she laid a real Caucasian table and provided us with Caucasian feast. Elmir and she got along with each other very soon. A couple of minutes later, having forgotten about our presence, the two composers began to discuss the creative works of Stravinsky, Shtockhauser, Shostakovich, Wagner and then talked about other unfamiliar stuff, like flats, harmony and orchestration. Elmir’s face was shining. At last he found an interlocutor in Yerevan and felt comfortable. They were talking so long and about unfamiliar stuff that Karen and I had to ask them to stop talking about things we were not aware of and change the subject. Thank God, they obeyed us.

We left Karen’s place at midnight after our bodyguard who was sitting all the time with us at their place said it was high time to go. Our bodyguard wanted to go home and at first he needed to fill up his car and take us to the hotel. After long persuasion of our bodyguard, Karen agreed with reluctance to let us go. We thanked him and his wife for warm hospitality and bid our goodbye.

Nursun Erel was eager to see Echmiatsin, a religious centre of Armenians. Georgi Vanyan agreed to materialize her wish.

- No problem. We can arrange a trip there. I wonder if Elmir and Alekper would like to go there as well.

- We have to think, - we answered Georgi when he asked us about it in the evening.

He could clearly understand our hesitation.

- You can refuse it and we can take only Nursun.

- Tomorrow you will have our final decision, - Elmir said to him.

And now before sleeping we once again reverted to this subject.

- To a religious centre of Armenians? I asked myself for several times. – To me all these years Echmiatsin has been a centre issuing orders to wipe out Azerbaijanians. Isn’t Echmiatsin an ideological centre of dashnaks?

Elmir was hesitating more than me.

- We can refuse to go there. Though I have never seen a Grigoryan choir in my life. And tomorrow there it is going be a service …

- In what does this choir vary from other Christian choirs?

- Are we going or not? If you say No, I will not support you. Make your decision right now, I want to sleep.

To my great sudden I answered:
- Yes, we are going.
We found ourselves in front of an ordinary church of small sizes which was even smaller than Taza-Pir.


The city of Echmiatsin is a historical centre of Armenian apostolic church which is a half an hour drive from Yerevan. On the way we passed numerous clubs, bars, casinos and even Zvartnots airport. We were told that the authorities had moved all the casinos from the centre to the suburb of the city and as a result all these entertainment establishments turned out to be on the way to Echmiatsin.

Approaching the apostolic church, all my illusions related to gigantic sizes of this “super centre” fail to the ground and collapsed. We found ourselves in front of an ordinary church of small sizes which was even smaller than Taza-Pir.

In addition to the apostolic church, the city also has a monastery with the residence of Catholicos, cathedral and theological educational institutions. The monastery complex includes refectory, hotel, house of Catholicos, school, stone reservoir (well) and other buildings. And numerous residential houses and public buildings were erected in the soviet times. A temple Hripsime, domical basilica Gayane and church Shoghakat are also situated in Echmiatsin. There is a museum in the cathedral with the collection of medieval arts and crafts.

Having observed the course of service held by Armenians and having taken a few pictures, we went out into the yard to wait for Nursun who was intending to shoot the whole ceremony. She went out of the church after half an hour and we hurried to our cars so as to reach Yerevan as soon as possible and dine. Before getting into the car, Elmir bought a small souvenir form some old man. It was a small wooden pomegranate hanging on a rope. I learnt from that man that pomegranates are the symbol of Armenia.


After dinner it was suggested that we visit Vernisazh. No, it’s not a gallery, it’s a shopping centre in the open air where one can buy all sorts of things. As it turns out at the end of the last century, somewhere in the midst of 80s, a group of enthusiastic artists, mostly composed of students from Yerevan Artistic-theatrical institute, organized a small exhibition of their paintings in the city park after Saryan.

Anyone could hardly imagine that in two or three years the action of those artists would become so popular and the exhibition would grow into one of the sightseeings of Yerevan. In the course of time, Yerevan Vernisazh became a quite popular place for the residents and guests of the city. In addition to the paintings and items of art one can buy and sell all sorts of things here: from nails to flats and even exchange currency. Throughout its existence, Yerevan Vernisazh underwent many changes and even changed its location. In 1997 it once again returned to its former location in the park after Saryan where, as it was planned many years ago, the paintings of professional artists, as well as amateurs’ would be exhibited there.

While we were going there, we had a feeling of seeing something like Baku Arbat, where the works of artists and amateurs are exhibited and where one can buy souvenirs. But as it turned out we were mistaken. Yerevan Vernisazh was 500 times bigger in size than Baku Arbat. It took us half of the day to pass each store.

Elmir decided that upon his return to his homeland he would suggest that Baku authorities provide an area for a similar market in the open air. I supported that idea.

- This market will right away be turned into a second-hand market. And rags and other clothes will be sold in place of items of art. Local authorities were hardly able to remove all unhygienic second-hand markets at the beginning of 90s, and now you want to revive the tradition?

Elmir had no intention to give in.

- If they really wish, they will do their best not to turn the market into a second-hand one. Anyone wishing to see a second-hand market can simply go to the airport. But in the market, that I suggest, only paintings, souvenirs, carpets and rugs, as well as books and other sorts of small items will be sold.

As we were having a long dispute concerning the fate of yet not opened Vernisazh in Baku, we didn’t notice how we had reached the silver row. Since silver is my weakness, I resolved to stand before the first store and began studying the rings.

- Hey, boys, are you from Baku?

I was not at all surprised to hear that question. After numerous TV news, speeches in live broadcasting and newspaper materials, we were recognized by everybody and even greeted us on the streets, the Internet clubs, shops. And now the “Lord of the Rings” greeted us.

- Yeah, we are from Baku, - I replied and came up closer to him.

That was a grey-haired man of average age. Scrutinizing us with interest he said:
- I am from Baku, too …

To meet a former Baku refugee in Yerevan is the same as meeting a refugee from Armenia in Baku. His eyes seemed to be filled with sadness and a bit curiosity. Coming up closer to me so as people would not hear us, he asked me:
- I used to live on Samed Vurgun street, near the courthouse. Tell me, how is life there?

Tell? But how? What about? I understood that he was one of the accidental victims of this war, by a twist of fate he found himself standing before this store and now had to earn his living in summer heat and in winter cold.

- You know… Now new buildings are being constructed in Baku. All old houses are being pulled down. Most probably, your own house has already been pulled down. But in general, the city is developing and flourishing…. You will not recognize your city if go and see it.

He sadly smiled.

- You say if I go and see it? By the way, my name’s Sergey... Look, what about Lenin’s Palace, Commerce Palace, Molokan park? Are they still “alive”, are they in their places?

- Yes. All of them are untouched. Now Lenin’s palace is the palace named after Heidar Aliyev. And the Commerce Palace has changed beyond recognition. But I don’t even remember how it looked before in your times. Perhaps very boring and grey, - I smiled.

- No. The Commerce Palace was not at all boring and grey in our times. What are you talking about? It was the merriest, brightest place in our city. Please excuse me for using the word “our”. I mean the period when I was living.

It looks like a kind of justification, I laughed. That’s all right. No problem.

- I didn’t understand what really happened, - he went on. Suddenly I opened my eyes and saw that I was here.

- Before this counter?

We could even crack jokes and I did like it.

- Yes, that’s right, before this counter,- answered Sergey. Travelling in the space.

He pointed to his shelves before him:

- Choose something as a present.

His suggestion came in handy. I was going to buy something but I didn’t know what exactly. There were all sorts of things in that market that I had difficulty choosing any. And now I had a chance of buying something from the former Baku resident.

I chose quite a good ring, rather heavy but not vulgar-looking. I guessed that it might cost not more than 40-50 dollars (according to approximate Baku prices). Sergey took the ring from me and very carefully put it into the box. I took my wallet out of my pocket and asked:
- How much do I have to pay for this ring?

- Nothing. I told you to choose a present, didn’t I?

- No. I can’t take it.

But I think I said something foolish. He might think that I didn’t want to get a present from an Armenian. But in fact I did want to pay for it.

- I know that this ring is expensive and I can’t take it for nothing. Besides, I am going to give it to my friend in Baku, as a present.

- And I can’t sell it to my compatriot, especially, such a rare person. Not every day one can meet an Azerbaijanian in Yerevan.

Georgi was standing next to me and from the expression of his face I could see that he was about to burst into tears. He told me in my ear not to resist. He said that “it was not accepted in Armenia to refuse a present”.

- Sergey, in that case take at least some symbolic money from me, - I suggested.

- OK. I don’t mind. One thousand drams.

It was more than two dollars. And it was funny.

- Sergey, it is too little, too little.

- I never bargain with my customers so long. You deprive me of the opportunity to present you something?

Reluctantly I couldn’t but agree. I paid him one thousand drams and put the box into my pocket. I felt uncomfortable. I am not that sort of person who sentimentalizes and repeats the accepted phrases, like “It is not the nations but the politicians are to blame for everything”. Moreover, I don’t believe in the innocence of nations. The single thing I was capable of doing was to say “thank you” and shake my hand with him. He might have understood how I was feeling at that moment and by shaking my hand he replied: “Not at all. You are welcome.”

When we walked away, Georgi remarked:
- You have already become a real traitor. You received a present from an Armenian.

- That’s true. If it were not the Karabakh problem, I would not have been presented with this ring. As if I was an important person. Bodyguards, radio transmitters, cars with blackout windows are everywhere. You know I will never become a president. It is so boring …

Georgi grinned.

- What are international organizations doing which make money on conflicts? And what about our political establishments which thanks to the conflict pockets millions of money? Our officials travel all over the world, stay at five-star hotels, devour an exotic food, as if they are settling the conflict. Don’t you think that the settlement of the conflict is not beneficial in the first place for our authorities, including NGOs which are engaged in peacemaking activities?

- You might be right, Georgi. But I believe in the sincerity of Ilham Aliyev. He will become the hero for ever and ever centuries. He will immortalize his name if he is through with this war. The whole Azerbaijan people and he himself do realize it. And what do you think of Kocharyan?

- Generally, I don’t want to blame anybody or have discussion about it. Simply I don’t believe in the process of negotiations without the involvement and participation of citizens in it. And stop looking at me like that. You are also a citizen and have come to Armenia …

At this very moment, I heard Elmir’s indignant voice:
- Why is it impossible to find a good cigarette holder in this Vernisazh?


When we first met Aleksey in the hotel where we held our first meeting with the students, he had invited us to his place. Only today on the last day of our stay in Yerevan, we had time to accept his invitation.

As it turned out, it was impossible to lay a large enough table for all of us (Elmir, two bodyguards, Aleksey, two of his children and I) in the small hostel room where he lived with his son and daughter. That’s why it was decided to use the next-door room in which the refugees from Baku, Bella, a lady of sixty years old and her daughter Natasha were living.

Bella and Manvelyan did their best to lay a decent table. There were lots of dishes on the table in that “squalid” room. Trout, kyabab, salads and, certainly, an Armenian cognac which was mainly drunk by Manvelyan and Elmir.

Five minutes later, I already knew that Bella used to live near Conservatory on Malaya Morskaya street. Her daughter Natasha even remembered Baku and understood Azerbaijan a little. Above all, she spent 15 years in that city. Talking of Aleksey’s son Yura and daughter Alla, I am still impressed by their level of education and upbringing. In spite of the fact that refugees have very a sever fate and live under terrible conditions, they were able to receive an excellent education. Aleksey still sings Azerbaijanian songs and complains that his children prefer pop music.

The evening was still going on …

I don’t feel like telling you about the things we were talking about, what songs and jokes we were telling. Let it remain a little secret. I don’t have a desire to tell you about the recollections of Aleksey Manvelyan, Bella, Natalya and Aleksey’s children who became refugees without even realizing where and why their parents were going. But today they do realize.

I can say only one thing – there was no hatred inside that small but very bright room where Karabakh status was not discussed. We preferred to discuss the status of man who is forgotten in our goddamned region…


Back to our families, friends, slogans and accusations. Roads and frontiers of South Caucasus are as not serious, funny and difficult to overcome as the nations populating our region. Wherever you go in South Caucasus, all roads lead to Hell. And we did manage to pollute every plot of this land!

Alekper Aliyev
December 10-19, 2006
Alekper Aliyev


“I am in some safe island... I have a feeling as if I am at home. But I know that all these are illusions...” Such and other similar thoughts visited me in the Embassy of Great Britain in Yerevan where all people around me were enjoying themselves and I was holding a glass of mineral water in my hand and was forcing a smile so as not to look impolite in the opinions of the Englishmen.

I have always been irritated by the presence of mediators between somebody and me. I am also irritated by the mediators acting on behalf of western authorities between Armenians and Azerbaijanians. It does not depend on me. Most probably I underestimate their efforts and vainly I cast a doubt on the sincerity of international institutes. But on the other hand, their presence once more confirms the bitter truth which says: “South Caucasus nations cannot communicate and settle their problems without mediators.”

It is also pity that they sort of legalize my presence in Armenia. The fact of mediation, support, assistance of Englishmen smoothes away my “fault”. And apparently that’s the reason why I felt myself protected in the Embassy of Great Britain. I don’t know why but it seemed to me that once I went out into the street I would be harassed, killed, ground into dust. I seemed to be somewhere in Europe and all the problems, frontiers, wars, refugees and hatred were far from me. At least there is hardly any person in Europe except for one familiar Abkhazian woman who refused to take ice-cream from the hands of a Georgian by explaining that he was her enemy.

It is South Caucasus where besides the fact that the sun is striking right into eyes, one needs to be extremely cautious, bind oneself, observe each step and word. In our region there are railway borders, our region lacks civilization, you are surrounded with greed, treachery and your rights are ignored in our region. It is immoral for a normal person living in South Caucasus to talk about love for homeland, since patriotism became prerogative of scoundrels thanks to which the notion “love for homeland” was devaluated, that is why speaking of patriotism is regarded as a sign of a bad form.

It is in the Embassy of Great Britain that I felt the taste of freedom and felt myself a man. And I was feeling ashamed. I was ashamed of my feelings, thoughts eating up my brain. I do not want to be free in the embassy of powerful states, I want to be free and live comfortably and peacefully in my homeland without fearing that some silly, unlucky fellow, “museum-dagger exhibit” will stab me with a knife.

After all over ten years have passed since the day we concluded a cease-fire agreement with Armenians. And since then we have failed to sign any document which could favour the settlement of the conflict. In spite of all the negotiations held in cooperation with powerful states we failed to arrive at some significant and even insignificant results. So far the confidence of Karabakh Armenians in respect of their independent future sharply has contrasted with our fair anger and discontent concerning the fate of Azerbaijan people.

On the other hand they do not want to understand our nations, that the frozen conflict is a cancerous growth which imperceptibly is exposed to metastasis and eats us up inside. We have to destroy the myth of the fact that the frozen conflict is for the welfare of our countries. This conflict which is supposed to last decades devours new and new victims. Mutual distrust, mutual demonization, increasing military expenditures and more frequent cases of breach of cease-fire agreements – all these are evil signs of the fact that the time intended for peaceful settlement expires.

How can Nagorny Karabakh conflict be characterized – frozen? How can it be frozen when we almost everyday receive information about death of people in the region? And when shall we finally understand that while we are fooling about, our region is perishing and moving away from the possibility of establishing peace and stability in the South Caucasus?

We are playing the fool, thus, defying such notions as “enemy”, “traitor”. We are playing the fool, thus, trying to deny and destroy all the values of the opponent by ignoring the fact that our nations are two halves of one of the same apple (our ambitions, greed, vanity, bragging, ungrounded arrogance are similar). We are playing the fool, thus, disputing the fact to whom this or that music, “dolma”, “khash”, barbeque, “balabal-duduk”, “tar”, “kyamancha” belong. We are playing the fool, thus, accusing each other of plagiarism, destruction of mosques, khachkars, churches. We are playing the fool, thus, regarding massacre of Sumgait and Baku to have been committed by Armenians and Armenians it their turn regard Khodjali slaughter to have been committed by Azerbaijanians. We are playing the fool, thus, proving to the whole world that the Armenian church is an Albanian one, whereas Armenians call Azerbaijanians barbarians who illegally settled down in these lands. We are playing the fool and do not understand that no patriotic slogans can help to justify intolerance to culture and traditions of each other. We refuse to understand that tolerance is not only a moral obligation, but also a political and legal need.

We refuse to understand that tolerance is a virtue which makes the achievement of peace possible and contributes to the substitution of war culture for peace culture.

What is treachery and who is a traitor? Who establishes criteria of treachery and who is competent to accuse this or that person of treachery? For example, I am strongly convinced that a traitor is the one who accuses its own nation of sale of lands and at the same time he is not different from those Armenians who blame us Azerbaijanians for the actions in Khonjala. Pride prevents us from admitting our defeat, but pride allows us to call our soldiers and our army traitors? Nonsense!

One can often hear the following phrase from my compatriots: “Where is Ministry of National Security (MNS) looking into? What is MNS engaged in? Why don’t they deal with these people?” (journalists and NGO representatives visiting Armenia). In reality, where is MNS looking into? I think the answer is simple: wherever it is needed. And hardly MNS is in need of any opinions and directions given by an average citizen. How can one doubt as to the professionalism and competence of special services of its own country? Are there really people living in Azerbaijan who in fact consider that MNS is unaware of the fact who, where and why this or that person is going? What is the fault of this structure that deserved a similar underestimation?

It is distressing not only because the potentials and possibilities of our special services are being diminished, but because we are, apparently, intending to keep observing our old tradition of the so called “superglass making” which was dominant in the soviet period. While in France I remember a prominent Azerbaijan writer Chingiz Guseinov telling me about his young ages when he had to delve in anonymous letters and information received from Azerbaijan which was then sent to Kremlin. He was ashamed of the leadership of Azerbaijan in this unworthy matter. Today, we fail to take into account the former scales of our country and compare the Soviet Empire, the supreme product of a human brain, spreading from Vladivostok to Kenisberg, with out small country, the borders of which are limited to Baku and Gazakh, where supervision and monitoring over the body movement of any citizen can be exercised. As a consequence in Azerbaijan, none of the state structures has ever prohibited me from going where I wanted and whatever I wanted to write. Dictatorship is a not a diagnosis of our state at all! Dictatorship is a diagnosis of Azerbaijan people which will compel even the most liberal ruler to become a tyrant. It cannot, it does not want to think freely. Then what shall we accuse our authorities of?

I am also asked if I am an Armenian or not. Maybe half-blooded? Neither of them. Even if I were half-blooded, believe me I would not feel bad about it, because the epithet “Armenian” is not an offence in this case. It is as simple as that, I do not have any desire and cannot claim to the laurels of Gebbels.

I have just remembered a story. A couple of months ago I had a conversation with a half-blooded person that one can find lots of them in Baku. As they say, a classical product of a mixed marriage. His father is Azerbaijainan and mother is Armenian. He lost his father before the known events. He was brought up by his mother and thanks to her he received an education and today he is even teaching in one of the institutes of the country. He is living with his Armenian mother and do not grieve at all. But there is one circumstance which does not do him credit, that is, he hates the whole Armenian people, curses and insults them as much as he can. One can easily understand that he is just trying to justify himself (!) and seems to have the staunchest phobia for Armenians out of other Armenian phobias. And because he can be suspected of loyalty to Armenians. Apparently, he wished to please me and be liked by me but I got disappointed with him. How can he insult his mother? But I do not blame him, he was compelled to say so. He cannot do otherwise.

I am often asked: “What is a homeland for you?” No, not the place where I am full and content. That’s not what you think. Homeland is any country where my rights are respected and where I can feel myself a man. And since I have not emigrated yet, this is due to commonplace wish to contribute my share in the affair of democratization of the society and rabid desire to change Azerbaijan into a country where human rights are respected. I don’t wish to hear from a European the following phrase: “If anything befalls you can count on our help, right up to emigration”. After all, he does not care a damn about my life and my fate. And why should I leave and become a link in the chain of bran drain? Though, I must confess that I envy those who have left Azerbaijan and live in clover and even they do not remember about their homeland, they prosper in their business, thus, providing safe and happy future for their children. I envy those who have managed to forget about everything and adapt to new conditions of life. How did they find strength to desert our mad region forever? But I strongly doubt that they ceased to be Azerbaijanians.

One more thing. There is no need to demand that I or somebody else hate Armenians. It is not in my line. Hatred is only directed toward worthy, powerful states like the USA, which I do hate in every fiber of my being. Armenia is just a part of the tremendous outpost of super powers called South Caucasus. How can I hate people like me? All what I am capable of doing is to tease and mock at our region on the whole. I mean the region, the population of which enjoys talking about love for their country ever so much, but never love for man. I mean the region where the fate of stones and matters are more significant for all people rather than the fate of man. And as a consequence, the fate of our region boasts of muhammes, duduk, khachapuri. The fate of our region is to live in hatred on default. The fate of our region is to love and hate by order. This is what we are doing: we are friendly and all together and it looks like there is no end to this theater of absurdity.

Although after all I have more rights to hate than those who require and force me to hate. I am one of tens of thousands of our compatriots who suffered from this war. Like many of our citizens, I also lost a member of my family in Karabakh.Well, what else can I do? In any case I find strength and courage in myself to tease and mock at our primitive war (I adore Schtokhausen, the great contemporary composer who managed to see in the collapse of World Trade Center the brilliant performance of the 21st century, because he was looking at this horrified scene from the art’s point of view).

I wish to ask my compatriots, who are filled with hatred for Armenians, from now on to be careful about words and try not to be likened to Robert Kocharyan, in whose opinion “Azerbaijanians and Armenians are genetically incompatible”. Personally I am for the viewpoint of my president who is prepared to grant Armenians the highest status of autonomy and who as a matter of principle does not rule out the possibility of joint co-existence between Armenians and Azerbaijanians. I fail to understand why should the position of Robert Kocharyan whom we all call our enemy be acceptable to us? The perspective of solidarity with Kocharyan does not suit me at all.

We have to stop! Don’t take away our hopes on the fact that by the time our children grow up and are able to understand what occupation, loss of lands, refugees, war and blood are, these problems will find their solutions. But our society does not offer any chance to our generation of being ready for peaceful co-existence with neighboring nation. Even if some time later the conflict is settled and the sides determine the Karabakh status, the image of an Armenian-enemy will be fixed in the subconscious of our children, thus, hindering them from developing their relations with their neighbours. And we have to develop them. We cannot get away from this.

It is easy to understand that if the image of an Armenian-enemy is propagated with such persistence, it can have only one meaning: subconsciously we know that the Karabakh conflict will last for centuries and even when our children grow up this problem will still be very urgent and topical. In other words, we are getting ready for the fact that the conflict will still remain frozen. In this case it should be taken into consideration that a similar course of events will only lead to the humility with loss of lands and the future generation of Azerbaijanians simply will not care a damn about the Karabakh which they have never seen in their life. As a result they will have no reason to hate Armenians. But they will have reasons to hate us – their fathers and grandparents.

Personally I do not wish to leave lots of unsettled problems to my children as an inheritance. No one can wish it. Only beautiful things should be taught to children which include love, life, peace. We have to finish with the war and not our children instead of us. It is our conflict, our war, no matter if it seems absurd or not. We do not have any right to deprive our children of the right to peace and good-neighbour relations with all our neighbours as it was in our case when our ancestors deprived young people of such rights. And especially if we talk about values common to all mankind and aspire after Europe, we do not have to inculcate and instill xenophobia and intolerance to the representatives of other nations and races in our future generation.

Is our South Caucasus in reality cursed by God for ever and over centuries and is there no hope that some day everything will be OK and come to its senses? Frankly, I do not want to believe it.

Alekper Aliyev
Realniy Azerbaijan