It has been two decades since the end of Soviet brutality. This “forced coexistence” has been costly for Azerbaijan in the social, political, cultural and economic fields. The resources and wealth of the country, as well as its human capital, have been destroyed and exploited for the sake of a utopia. In addition, the seeds of grave problems that could have threatened the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan have been planted. Its great potential (it should be noted that this potential also bears a risk of separation) suggested that Azerbaijan needed to be controlled. Therefore, there were many obstacles before Azeri independence. However, something should have been done to address the double standards and put an end to the exploitation of the country. This could have been done to the extent allowed by the Soviet regime. And the Azeri people used these opportunities. To fulfill the demands of the people, Haydar Aliyev emerged as a strong leader and representative of the people; and, up until his identity and position were found out by the Soviet regime in 1984, he did a number of great services for his people.
In 1991, Azerbaijan gained its independence; however, potential political problems have resurfaced despite international laws, principles of justice and the rule of law. On the one side were the disarmed Azeri people while there were armed Armenian militants on the other. The Azeri people have moved forward despite the obstacles. All opportunities and standards of the civilized and contemporary world should have been achieved; people should have made progress forward.
Over the last two decades, several major steps have been taken by the Azeri people. Reports by international rating institutions on the Azeri economy and the fact that the Azeri economy constitutes 75 percent of the South Caucasian economy are well-known. The Azeri economy, which has remained uninfluenced by the recent global economic crisis, has continued to grow. Today, Azerbaijan attracts a great deal of foreign investments. Thanks to the active and rational policies of Azeri diplomacy, Azerbaijan has been elected to the UN Security Council as temporary member.
The Eurovision song contest, which is being held in Azerbaijan this year, could be taken as an example of the rise of the country in the cultural field. And, of course, it should be noted that this song contest is just one of the international contests and festivals to be held in Azerbaijan. Other major international cultural events that have taken place in the country include the Harı Bülbül Music Festival, Jazz events, Symphonic Music and the Üzeyir Hacıbayev, Gara Garayev and M. Rastropoviç music festivals.
Azerbaijan also hosts a number of international sports events and contents every year. The major reasons for the growing interest in Azerbaijan as a venue for these events could be cited as the Azeri people’s human values and their tendency to embrace the civilized world and make progress.
Unfortunately, the modern world still ignores the strong performance of Azerbaijan despite its major obstacles. The international community fails to pay attention to the injustices and unfairness that Azerbaijan has been subjected to for a long time despite the interest it shows in Armenian lies and attempts to present itself as a victim. To this end, the occupied Azeri lands and the Khojaly genocide could be cited as examples. While there have been vibrant discussions on an alleged genocide that arguably took place 100 years ago, the world fails to consider a genocidal campaign that took place in 1992. In addition to this state of blindness, we should also note the ungrounded arguments and strong efforts by those who allegedly offer alternative ideas and thoughts.
But Azerbaijan continues to make progress despite the obstacles and obstructions because it is not wise to stop trying just because of the actions of others. But it is also not wise for Armenia to live in its world of dreams and to avoid reality. We could say that because of its irrational policies, Armenia has lost its statehood. As a diplomat and international relations expert, I find it difficult to see Armenia as a state.
* Elsever Salmanov is the press secretary for the Azerbaijani Embassy in Ankara.