of Azerbaijan International
Heydar Aliyev's Speech
20, 1997, Azerbaijan International celebrated its Fifth Jubilee
at the Akhundov National State Library in Baku with an exhibition
of our magazines and our most recent publication "Global
Horizons: President Aliyev's Visit to the USA." President
Heydar Aliyev addressed about 200 special guests including the
Speaker of Parliament Mortuz Alaskarov, Prime Minister Artur
Razizade, Minister of Culture Polad Bulbul, various cabinet members,
parliament members, international diplomats and representatives
of international businesses. Other speeches were given by Fatima
Abdullazade, the Director of Humanitarian and Cultural Affairs
of the President's Aparat; Betty Blair, Editor of Azerbaijan
International and Tom Klockenbrink, President of NAOC (North
Absheron Operating Company). The event was televised in its entirety
that evening as well as on the following day.
Left: Betty Blair, Editor of Azerbaijan International,
presents President Heydar Aliyev with the new book, "Global
Horizons: President Aliyev's Visit to the USA." Murtuz Alasgarov,
Speaker of the Parliament (left) looks on. The event took place
at the Akhundov National Library on the occasion of Azerbaijan
International's Fifth Jubilee, November 20, 1997.
Right: At the Jubilee (left to right) President
Aliyev, Betty Blair, Pirouz Khanlou (Publisher) and directly
behind him, the magazine's Baku Manager, Mazahir Panahov.
speech (edited transcript)
ceremony today is dedicated to the fifth anniversary of Azerbaijan
International magazine. During these past few years, it has become
a tradition in our country to organize a presentation whenever
someone publishes a book or the first issue of a magazine. Well,
Azerbaijan International was born five years ago, and there has
yet to be any presentation. But during those five years, they
have expanded their activities and raised the magazine to a very
high standard. It's time to give credit to their achievements.
Azerbaijan International magazine is a rare example in the life
of independent Azerbaijan. Our people have always tried to introduce
their achievements, their culture, traditions and art to the
world. It's essential that we always value intellectual work
efforts, very few people knew about our country prior to our
independence. But even this legal, political act has not made
Azerbaijan known around the world as much as we have desired.
For this to happen, we must work consistently and tirelessly.
We must work in all spheres. Our statesmen, public and private
organizations, cultural workers, scientists-all of us-must make
Azerbaijan known to the world. We must speak about the just cause
of Azerbaijan in every corner of the globe. It is especially
important these days because Armenia has encroached on our territory.
Supporters of Armenia and the Armenian Diaspora are very strong
throughout the world.
In spite of the fact that Armenians occupy 20 percent of Azerbaijan's
land and in spite of the fact that they have forced 1 million
innocent people to flee their homes, Armenians always denounce
Azerbaijan and spread lies throughout the world. They slander
Azerbaijan everywhere. Unfortunately, we have not been able to
counter their propaganda, and they have succeeded in achieving
their goals. This only complicates our situation.
Let me mention
that during these past few years considerable effort has been
made to acquaint the world with Azerbaijan. First of all, our
foreign policy has pioneered in this sphere by steadily developing
close relations and cooperation with foreign countries. Our information
organizations, public organizations, Writers' Union, Composers'
Union, various scientific organizations, the Academy of Sciences
and others have done an incredible work in this regard. But this
is not enough. We still need to work very hard. We must make
a great effort so that people everywhere in the world will know
our country, so that they will hear the truth and know our history
and the achievements and contributions of our people.
Another reason we need to work very hard is that we also have
internal enemies-powers which oppose us and who, for their personal
benefits, are trying to stain Azerbaijan. They try to spread
lies about Azerbaijan which cast a shadow on the realities of
Uniqueness of Azerbaijan
In this respect, special words must be said about Azerbaijan
International. Categorically, we must acknowledge that among
the publications which are being produced in different countries,
no other publication has been able to describe the situation
of Azerbaijan so accurately, so completely, so optimistically
and so attractively.
It is interesting
that neither our state organizations nor our social organizations
have created this magazine. The creators of this magazine are
people who love Azerbaijan. They are friends of Azerbaijan who
genuinely care about our country. This publication is the brainchild
of two people-Betty Blair and Pirouz Khanlou. One of them is
American, the other is Azeri. Through their personal initiative
and selfless labor, they have created this magazine which has
attained an incredibly high standard. I greatly value their initiative
and the work they have done these past five years. I respect
their attitude towards Azerbaijan, their friendship and the enormous
efforts that they have made for our country.
This magazine proves that when people are committed from the
bottom of their hearts, and when they really care about what
they're doing, they can achieve their goals. There are so many
publications and social organizations in Azerbaijan. We have
so many newspapers, magazines and books. But which of them can
be compared to Azerbaijan International? Who can bring their
publication and show that theirs is equal to Azerbaijan International?
No one can. If there are any, please come and show us.
The creation of this magazine, its existence and the level to
which it has achieved, pleases me very much. It shows what human
beings are capable of. And it proves that the publication offices
in Azerbaijan which have a large staff and work out of large
buildings are not meeting up to their potential.
Today, we compared
the first issue of Azerbaijan International with the most recent
issue. I have been receiving and reading each issue of this magazine
since 1993 and have observed how the quality has improved, how
the number of its pages have increased and how the topics have
Mrs. Blair and Mr. Khanlou are very committed to their work.
But at the same time, they are very close friends of Azerbaijan;
they are committed to the truth about Azerbaijan and are faithful
in presenting the contemporary life of the Azerbaijani people.
That's why I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart.
Their publication can compete with some of the most well-known
and esteemed magazines in the world. During the Soviet period,
there was a magazine called "America." Only a few people
in the Soviet Union were allowed to subscribe to it. I remember
they used to make a list of people in the Azerbaijan government
and decide which people were eligible to receive it. People who
succeeded in getting a copy were very happy even though most
of them weren't able to read or understand it. "America"
was a very attractive magazine and had interesting, colorful
pictures describing America's life. As you recall, we didn't
know as much about America then as we do now. I remember this
magazine very well.
But now, I challenge the people who were so eager to receive
"America" back then to go to the archives and find
copies and compare it to Azerbaijan International. You'll discover
that Azerbaijan International magazine has achieved a much higher
standard than "America" ever did.
Inside the Covers -
the value of Azerbaijan International is not just in its outward
appearance. The reason why I highly value this magazine is because
of its contents. This magazine reflects Azerbaijan's history,
culture, contemporary life, its famous people and its creative
works. Sometimes, they write about things that we don't even
know about or have forgotten. They design these pages with love,
talent and proficiency.
A few weeks ago in this same building, we had a presentation
of a photo book which depicted the lives of our refugees. Unfortunately,
up until then, we had never had such a book. But its publication
came too late. It should be noted that Azerbaijan International
had already dedicated two entire issues to the refugee problem
[AI 2.2, Spring 1994 and AI 5.1, Spring 1997] in which they included
meaningful, touching, sensitive photos. Everyone who reads those
issues can begin to comprehend the great problem that we have
with refugees and the conditions under which they are living.
I've just seen the latest issue of this magazine [AI 5.3, Autumn
1997] which focuses on Azerbaijan Cinema. This issue includes
beautiful, colored photos from movies such as "Arshin Mal
Alan" (The Cloth Peddler), "Mashadi Ibad," "Nasimi"
and others. When we look at those photos, we realize that we
have forgotten so many things about our own culture. We are reminded
of how rich our cinema is, and we start to think about these
beautiful, fantastic works that we've created. We must not forgot
these things. We must present these things to the world-to America,
England, France, Germany, to all the countries of the world.
They must know how deep Azerbaijan's culture is.
One of the most attractive characteristics of this magazine is
that it selects topics that many of us don't even know about.
Even I have learned things from it. For example, we have a very
young, talented singer, Surkhai Askarov, with whom I personally
became acquainted with through this magazine when Betty Khanum
(Mrs. Betty) told me about him.
Shortly afterwards, I arranged a concert in the Art Museum where
I heard Surkhai sing for the first time. There I saw for myself
how talented he was. So this magazine identifies some of our
talented youth as well as the giant personalities in our cultural
world such as Uzeyir Hajibeyov, Niyazi, Rashid Behbudov, our
great poets and many others.
We can say many things about this wonderful magazine. But one
of the most important features is its distribution to readers
in 47 countries of the world. Seven thousand copies are printed
each quarter. It's very important that people from many countries
read this magazine, especially people in government, business,
diplomatic and financial circles.
Azerbaijan International has also produced six CDs and cassettes
of "Classical Music of Azerbaijan." This is very useful
for us. It has helped me, too. I sometimes give copies of the
magazine and a set of these CDs to guests who visit our country.
Small, Dedicated Team
of the most amazing things about this magazine is that they don't
have a large editorial staff with lots of assistants. Basically
three people are the driving force behind this magazine - Betty
Blair, Pirouz Khanlou and Mazahir Panahov in Baku. In Azerbaijan,
people ask for big offices, cars, telephones, lots of employees,
and then they produce a magazine or newspaper of mediocre quality
which is not read by many people. However, Azerbaijan International
has accomplished a higher quality magazine without asking for
anything because they love Azerbaijan very much and because they
are great enthusiasts of their work. Only great enthusiasts can
create miracles. These people are great enthusiasts, and that's
why I value them so highly.
has established itself, and we know that as time goes by, it
will describe an Azerbaijan with an even brighter future. I hope
that Azerbaijan International will increase the number of issues
that they publish each year and expand it to five or six issues.
One of the latest projects that they've undertaken is to publish
a book called "Global Horizons" which is dedicated
to the first official visit of Azerbaijan's president to the
U.S. This book is of very high quality, like the magazine, and
serves to express and strengthen relationships between Azerbaijan
and the international community.
I congratulate you, our people and our friends, on this occasion
that we honor Azerbaijan International. I also congratulate the
people who have created this magazine and who have worked so
hard to make it such a great success. I thank them and wish them
continued success in their future work.
(5.4) Winter 1997
© Azerbaijan International 1997. All Rights Reserved.
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