Looking at you, the Yunus Couple, and many other intellectuals who left Azerbaijan, we can see that the incorruptible intellectuals have no place in the present-day Azerbaijan. Who is to blame for it: the authorities or the public?
The classical question is whether it is the fault of the authorities and people? If the political power - especially in autocracies - is scrambling the brains of people day and night through the strong resources of formation of public opinion, how can one blame the society? I think much is explained by the terrible condition of the education system in Azerbaijan. Except for a few wise individuals, the rest of the population of Azerbaijan is subject to propaganda and this is perceived normally. Everything is being done to make us - the betrayers and public enemies - migrate from the country. Probably, Azerbaijan is the leader in terms of betrayers, public enemies, gays and drug addicts all in one. All those discontented are drug addicts by default. There is a grain of truth here, because the Georgian frontier guards are already sick and tired of stopping the Azerbaijani vehicles carrying heroin. In this light, the writer points out the uneasy fate of the drug trafficking country. For the past ten years, the head of the Azerbaijani Ministry of National Security has been recording the intimacies of oppositionists, journalists, public figures, in addition to embezzlement, blackmailing, murders and tortures. By the way, he is still at liberty.
Journalists of our countries are, to put it mildly, not so impartial when covering the public life, the reason of the Karabakh conflict and history. All this has just increased the mutual aggression, lack of understanding and unwillingness of our peoples to understand each other. Meantime, neither Armenians, not Azerbaijanis, and much less Karabakhis will move to the moon, irrespective of the extermination threats. Do you see a light at the end of this tunnel?
In Azerbaijan, the Karabakh conflict is the only legitimate, neutral, harmless, safe topic for villains, and they can be parasitic, display heroism, turn on the waterworks, whisper "Ka-ra-bakh", but they cannot die. They cannot die. Those who die are the poor Azeris and Armenians, who were born to the wrong parents, i.e. who failed to join the elite. So, it is possible to demonize the neighbors and the authorities will encourage and reward them. As long as the young people are dying on the frontline, the money flows in a torrent and harbors on the accounts of our authorities. So, the scheme is simple. Azerbaijani media is simulacrum, not mass media. I think the absolute majority of Azerbaijani journalists are ignorant people, who badly need to go to school. Over 13 years of his presidency, Ilham Aliyev has given no single award to any journalist. Aliyev is a sophisticated man, he grew up in the best houses of Baku, drank coffee with the best people of Paris and received good education. That's why he cannot imagine himself talking to them.
In Paris, Moscow, Rome, Zurich, Tbilisi Armenians and Azerbaijanis can make friends, but as soon as they arrive at Zvartnots and Heydar Aliyev airports, something goes wrong in their brains and they become enemies and join the general chorus.
My attitude to Karabakh is not based on the principle 'We won't cede an inch of the holy land of the ancestors'. There are no holy lands for me. After all, we all depend on the helium on the sun. I think we should live in peace and harmony. Sex, drugs, rock'n'roll. The rest is vanitas vanitatum et omnia vanitas.
What is your personal opinion of the April war? Who unleashed it and who needed it?
It is evident that Azerbaijan unleashed that war. It appears that Azerbaijan does not conceal it. It was a classical attempt of a blitzkrieg. The April war once again showed that there is no military solution to the conflict. Sabre rattling is not suitable to our countries. That war activated me as a citizen of the South Caucasus, because everyone has washed hands off. The perfunctory peacemakers in Azerbaijan and Armenia proved elementary “Nazis” for whom peacemaking is nothing for business. Meantime, they should have simply kept silent. The mafia of NGOs! Do you want to know where the true peacemakers are? They are at their homes. These are the ordinary people, our and your, whose voices are ignored. They want peace, but they cannot say about it, as they were ordered to hate. They are ordered to cry out the slogans, but they damn the “party’s policy” at their homes. Our officials want to persuade us that military actions are a “social order.” Since when has the authoritarian, kleptocratic, ignorant monarchy started reckoning with the people’s opinion? During the years of the ceasefire, the authorities in our countries failed to use their huge resources of peacemaking to establish a dialogue between our peoples. Shame on the country, which violated the ceasefire commitments first! There are so many offenses, sufferings and casualties on both sides, and only internal culture is able to relieve our pain and let us forgive each other.
Culture and critical reasoning is what South Caucasus lacks devastatingly. We must be brave enough to admit that we are ordinary people able to live, sympathize, and appreciate friendship. It is time to abandon phantoms. Could it be true that there are no decent managers in Armenia and Azerbaijan who would like to write a new history of the South Caucasus? Why don’t we shake each other’s hands here and now, in the region? Aren’t we men, after all? Pardon for my paternalism. The power of really good, cool, brave persons is able to make a break this stalemate. They should break into power, show the peoples the beauty of peace, and act.
And what about the interests of external powers contradicting to ours?
It is extremely difficult to resist the northern neighbor as the forces are not equal and I realize that. But we should also realize the simple truth that having a monster at the neighborhood does not justify our long lasting and fratricidal war. There is no such a force that can confront the will of the people. We, Caucasian people are centuries-old neighbours and we have always lived in peace. The problems in our region have been caused by exclusively geopolitical reasons and the empires surrounding us. Our region is like a public thoroughfare, which was regularly trampled by one empire or another. Armenians have become victims of geopolitical confrontation of a number of empires and this victimhood has become Armenians’ identity and formed the basis of their values and national idea. Today Armenians and Azerbaijanis with their historical fetishism are raising their flags gathering on the streets of Europe and are crying slogans too far from European’s understanding. Instead of settling the disputes on the place our people are running like mad in Europe with banners and slogans sorting things out three thousand kilometers away from their homelands.
A lot of intellectuals, certainly not those among the authorities, consider creation of common “Caucasian home” as a guarantee for settlement of conflicts in the South Caucasus as well as an impetus for overcoming external dependence from superpowers. Do you share this point of view and in which conditions might this plan be realized?
You have voiced the only possible way out of the deadlock, faced by three Caucasian nations. The solution is new South Caucasus without borders and disputed territories. If not canceling the borders we at least need to establish close cooperation in all the fields and invite the European Union, the USA and other countries with their assistance programs to build modern society. In such a society nothing will be more valuable than a person and human rights. There can be no territorial claims in such societies. This model is my utopia. I do not like to dispute on this topic nor do I want to substantiate this idea. Time will show whether this confederation can be established or not. Down with borders and everything that disunites us!