Azerbaijan International

Winter 2001 (9.4)
Page 26

Personal Experiences - These Past Ten Years

Elyar AliyevElyar Aliyev
The collapse of the Soviet Union opened up new horizons for us. Indeed, it transformed our lives. As I'm a petroleum engineer in one of the most prolific oil areas of the former Soviet Union, I can clearly see how life would have been different if we were still living under the Soviet regime.

We would not have had access to a Western knowledge base, new Western technologies or industrial standards, as these things were not accepted or utilized during Soviet times; they were acquired once we opened our borders and signed significant oil contracts with international companies. Nor would I have been able to work in a large, multinational company - drilling wells in the Gulf of Mexico, visiting the U.K. and Norwegian platforms in the North Sea. Nor would there have been any independent activity, enabling us to achieve by working hard and professionally and being appreciated for our true worth.

Only after gaining independence, once the "Iron Curtain" was lifted, did Azerbaijanis begin to discern the differences between Western life and the one that we had had. Along with this new vision, we had troubles that we had never experienced before - such as the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, in which neighbors became enemies. The general political and economic situation, and most of all, the uncertainty of the future, became a shocking reality. For the first time in our lives, we had to make our own independent decisions and adjust to democracy and new rules that were quite chaotic. Azerbaijan was no longer part of a larger country. We were on our own in our struggle for independence, territorial integrity and political stability.

During the Soviet era, it was common to have friends from all over the Soviet Union. We used to visit each other, sharing both good times and bad. Now the borders that separate the 15 former Soviet Republics are too visible and conscious. In the past, Baku was characterized as being very multinational and heterogeneous. We did not distinguish ourselves by nationalities and origins, religions and beliefs. This sincerity and affection for each other is what I miss most about the former Soviet Union. I miss the freedom to communicate without having ulterior motives. We seem to be losing that now. What I don't miss is the insularity and lack of information, a situation in which we had no idea about the realities of the world that surrounded us. Nor did we have the ability to make unbiased decisions.

Azerbaijan International (9.4) Winter 2001.
© Azerbaijan International 2002. All rights reserved.

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