Vice-President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Leyla Aliyeva attends the AYOR conference in Saint Petersburg

The third conference of the Azerbaijani Youth Organization of Russia (AYOR) took place in the Tavria Palace in Saint Petersburg on the 4th of June. Summing up the two-year activity of the Youth Organization, the conference identified the future development strategy.

The event opened with a performance of the national anthems of Azerbaijan and Russia.

A documentary on the Organization’s huge actions in the past year was shown.

Opening the event, Leila Aliyeva - Vice-President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, and Chairwoman of AYOR - expressed gratitude to Azerbaijani youth of Russia for the successful action and active position. She underlined AYOR has been operating for 2 years and a lot has been achieved during this time, with good results achieved. Mrs Aliyeva said: ‘The Organization has expanded its geographical presence. The Azerbaijani youth clubs now operate not only in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, but also in Arkhangelsk, Tver, Ivanov, Yekaterinburg and several other regions. Our organization tries to cover all aspects of youth life – sports, healthcare, education and culture’. The speaker mentioned that a major concern of the Organization is the ‘Justice for Khojaly’ campaign. The campaign aims to inform the world community of the realities of this tragedy, which happened in February 1990 and left 613 civilians dead, including women, children and the elderly. The Head of AYOR said: ‘Khojaly is an unforgettable pain for Azerbaijani people. I am sure the Armenia-Azerbaijan Daghlig Garabagh conflict will soon be settled fairly and that Azerbaijan`s territorial integrity will be restored. Events are organized in all continents under the auspices of the campaign: conferences are held, books published, films made. Thus, the number of people who know the realities of the Khojaly tragedy is growing extensively’.

Noting the great attention the Organization pays to education and the promotion of Azerbaijan, Leila Aliyeva said AYOR does more and more to familiarise Russian youth, along with Azerbaijani youth living in Russia, with Azerbaijan’s history, culture and literature. The Azerbaijan Sunday schools are opened in many regions of Russia. An Azerbaijan Room will soon be opened at the Foreign Literature Library. Information on Azerbaijan will be presented here not only to the representatives of Azerbaijani youth, but to everyone who is interested’.

Besides, AYOR pays huge attention to health and a healthy lifestyle. Within the ‘Blood Has No Nation’ action, which has been arranged for several years already, volunteers of the Organization disinterestedly donate blood to all in need. This action covers Moscow and regions of Russia. Also, AYOR organizes an event called ‘Make Sure You Are Healthy – Say ‘NO’ To Disease’. People were examined free as part of this event. As part of the joint project of the Organization with UNAIDS, actives of AYOR carries out educational work on AIDS at universities and schools, discusses the harm done by drugs and tobacco, and delivers corresponding lectures in regions.

AYOR pays special attention to sports as well. Mrs Aliyeva stressed a mini football championship has been held for three years for the Heydar Aliyev Cup. ‘It is very good that the number of participants in the championship is growing, and that representatives from the regions join in’, she said. According to Mrs Aliyeva, the Organization backs up the brain-ring team, organizes a championship of the ‘What? Where? When?’ game.

The Chairwoman of AYOR said: ‘I want to emphasize that the Azerbaijan clubs operating in most of the Russian high schools regularly organize events. I send my thanks to the organizers of those events for such initiatives. During these years the days of Azerbaijani music & cuisine have been held due to their efforts. The Azerbaijan clubs of Russia can be a model today for their activity. We try to represent our national culture & traditions decently, to love the historical and cultural heritage of our people, and to respect universal cultural diversity. Azerbaijan and Russia are linked by kind neighboring and friendly relations for many years. I want to stress that in the Eurovision Song Contest Azerbaijan received twelve points just from Russia. Personally to me, that was a sign, a herald of the glorious victory. Nothing can be compared with the pride and joy I felt when my country won. I invite you all to Eurovision-2012 in Azerbaijan next year.

Polad Bulbuloghlu - Ambassador of Azerbaijan to Russia - noted that since its establishment AYOR has introduced itself as a working and necessary structure of the modern society. He said: ‘Thanks to the active position and organizational skill of the Head of the Organization, Leila Aliyeva, AYOR has become the clear voice of Azerbaijan in Russia in just two short years’. The Ambassador mentioned that AYOR is a significant and important means for the development of relations of youth in all spheres of public life, and fostering traditional friendly ties between Russia and Azerbaijan.

Talking about Azerbaijan’s youth policy and development of the Azerbaijani Youth in 2011-2015 State Programme, Youth and Sport Minister Azad Rahimov said multilateral action of AYOR aims to support the physical and spiritual health of over 170,000 Azerbaijani youth of Russia.Rahimov said that using quite necessary and useful forms of action, AYOR contributes to the development of civic consciousness via cultural-educational and social projects. ‘AYOR is a bridge with access to two sides. Both Azerbaijan and Russia are interested in the success of your initiative’, the Minister underlined.

Elnur Aslanov - Chief of Political Analysis and Information Support Department of the Presidential Administration of Azerbaijan - noted the importance of the high level of relations between Azerbaijan and Russia. ‘These relations between youth of the two countries that are supported by Presidents Ilham Aliyev and Dmitri Medvedev on a high level should be strengthened. Today opportunities are opened for the Azerbaijani youth of Russia to consolidate their relations in the field of science, culture and education. Studying in Russia is not only an educational potential, but also being an informal ambassador of Azerbaijan’s realities. They should inform the cultural and scientific public of Russia of successes and achievements of our country. I am glad that AYOR has successfully been fulfilling this mission in the past years’, Aslanov stated.

Elshad Isgandarov - Secretary General of the OIC Youth Forum for Dialogue and Cooperation - read out the address by the Organization’s Board to the delegates of the conference. The address highly values the AYOR activities and organizational talent of Leila Aliyeva, the Head of the Organization, emphasizing her personal contribution to the realization of the idea of creation and development of the global movement ‘Youth for Alliance of Civilizations’. Mr Isgandarov said: ‘I think, both AYOR members and all Azerbaijani youth should take pride that the Representative of Azerbaijan Leila Aliyeva has been elected to the Youth Advisory Board of the Alliance of Civilizations and honorably represents here 57 OIC countries’.

Secretary General of the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly Mikhail Krotov, Chairman of the Youth Policy Committee of the Administration of Saint Petersburg Alexander Nikolaev, President of the Saint Petersburg State University Lyudmila Verbitskaya, Co-Chairwoman of Coordination Board of ‘Molodaya gvardiya’ All-Russian Public Organization of ‘Yedinaya Rossiya’ Party Alyona Arshinova, Chairman of Youth and Children Organizations Union of Russia Alexander Sokolov, Vice-President of Latin American Youth Organizations Julian Lugo Mendez mentioned they follow AYOR’s successes with great pleasure, and its integration into the international processes. They emphasized the Organization’s huge contribution to the dialogue of civilizations and cultures, international youth dialogue, strengthening of relations between Russia and Azerbaijan.

Talking of the fair position of Azerbaijan in the Daghlig Garabagh conflict and heroism of Azerbaijani people, Lieutenant-General Alexander Volokh said: ‘I am very glad for the rapid development of Azerbaijan’. Talking of great merits of national leader Heydar Aliyev in the formation and development of the statehood in Azerbaijan, he said: ‘Blooming and developing Azerbaijan amazes all us. But Azerbaijani youth cannot agree with the violation of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. The duty of the youth is to put an end to this injustice, and restore the sovereignty of the state’.

The speakers congratulated Azerbaijan on its success in the Eurovision-2011 Song Contest.

Representatives of youth organizations of Moscow and the regions talked of the projects which had been achieved.

The first day of the forum ended with a concert in the Petropavlovsk Castle that featured Azerbaijani and Russian pop stars.

On June 5, the forum continued in the sections on education, science and culture, healthy lifestyle and sports, economy, business and entrepreneurship, international cooperation, youth and mass media.

‘Azerbaijan’ photo exhibition was opened in the lobby at the Tavria Palace. Participants of the conference and visitors received books and CDs published by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, along with the next issues of ‘AMOR’ (‘AYOR’) and ‘Baku’ magazines.