President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin presents the “Pushkin” Medal to Leyla Aliyeva
Vice-President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Leyla Aliyeva gave an interview to Russia-24 TV channel and told of the Foundation`s operations and cooperation with the Russian Federation. Interview
- Thank you for a good opportunity to meet you and talk to you here in Baku. We have been here more than a day and can observe hospitality, friendliness of Azerbaijanis and bakuvites. This relationship concerns only Russians or it is something else?
- Thank you very much. It is good that you say so. Of course, this attitude concerns everybody because Azerbaijanis are very hospitable. We are hospitable people cause it is in our blood. We are always happy to meet guests. Azerbaijan has always been known for its tolerance, and from time immemorial, it was home to various nationalities, religions, cultures as one big family. Representatives of many nations live in Azerbaijan today and one can hear people speaking different languages. There is also a Muslim mosque, Catholic church, Orthodox church, Jewish synagogue, and all people live in peace and harmony. In my opinion, it is very important, in particular, in today`s world. As to Russia, we have many things in common and connected with history, culture. Azerbaijan fully preserved Russian language learning in schools. There are a Russian theater of drama, Baku Slavonic University, Russian Cultural Center. We are always glad to see guests from Russia.
- Thank you very much. You are a head of the branch of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation in Moscow and one of the Foundation`s goals include the cultural exchange and promotion of the values existing in Azerbaijan. Do you manage to attract tourists from Russia.
- You know, the office of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation in Russia opened five years ago and it is one of the Foundation`s branches in the world, which opened exactly in Russia. Indeed, we have implemented many cultural projects during this period. We regularly organize student exchange and invite 20-30 people from Russian to Azerbaijan and from Azerbaijan to Russia. We invite professors, teachers so that they could just get familiar with our country. We regularly conduct various cultural events, holidays in Russia. We have recently opened the Azerbaijani Cultural Center in Russia. During this period. we have held many interesting events. We have many good projects. Three weeks ago, Azerbaijan-Russia friendship bridge was inaugurated in Astrakhan. A school was also built with the support of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation.
- Education is ne of the key priorities for the Foundation. There are nearly thousand Azerbaijani students abroad.
- Yes, it is a state program. With respect to the Foundation, it spans various spheres of life. But, education is one of the important topics, and the Foundation has built and renovated about 400 schools. Each school has its own computer classroom equipped with the latest technologies. The Foundation publishes textbooks and sends schoolchildren to study. The most important thing, it builds schools in not only Azerbaijan but also Pakistan, Romania, Russia, Georgia, Egypt. It means a very broad scope. For instance, a school has been recently opened in Astrakhan. I think we will keep on working in this direction.
- What are the Foundation`s interests? It is obvious not only representatives of the Azerbaijani Diaspora will be studying in these schools.
- The foundation was founded in 2004 and bears the name of the national leader Heydar Aliyev and its major goal is to continue good deeds started by Heydar Aliyev. Therefore, it is a charity as well just like in healthcare. The Foundation built the region`s biggest Thalassemia Center in Azerbaijan. All children under 14 with diabetes get free vaccines. It builds centers for disabled people, boarding schools for children without care. Very broad scope of activity. There are science, cultural events as well. Last year, we celebrated 20th anniversary of Azerbaijans regaining its independence in different countries of the world including Russia. We organized concerts, exhibitions. It means a very comprehensive activity. The most important thing is that the Foundation managed to win support, trust of virtually all groups of population in Azerbaijan and not only in Azerbaijan.
- But I am sure that you tend to work with people of your age. It is the Azerbaijani Youth Organization in Russia. What was the reason behind establishment of such an organization? What contribution does it makes to the favorable climate in the Azerbaijan-Russia relationship?
- AYOR was established five years ago. I did not expected how successful and active this organization would be. AYOR is the Azerbaijani youth organization of Russia and at the same time it means "love" (abbreviation of AYOR in Russian, AMOR). Love of people, love of ideas, and indeed, we managed to united Azerbaijani youth, help them integrate into the Russian society and worthily represent Azerbaijani culture in Russia. Now, Azerbaijani youth clubs exist in virtually all universities. What is interesting is that other countries followed our example and began to open their youth clubs, which represent their countries, cultures. There is quite an interesting communication among youth. We regularly invite about 30-40 students from Russia to Azerbaijan. Until 12 October, we are going to conduct the fourth AYOR in Moscow. Therefore, there are many projects. More concretely, we regularly participate in "Blood has no nation" project - blood donation campaign. I thought our youth needs some push but it appeared that they are very active themselves. Yes, they visit orphanages every month, build, help their children and assist students. Our doctor-activists have recently gave lectures in universities on the harm of drugs, tobacco and AIDs. It means that they visited various institutions of higher education, delivered lectures and distributed brochures. They regularly organize holidays in orphanages and help children. It is very important because youth has much strength, and of course, they must understand they can do much.
- You also founded the organization called International Dialogue for Environmental Action - IDEA. What prompted you to create the environmental organization?
- IDEA has turned one. The main goal is of course to safeguard environment and inform youth about threats to our planet. Because many do not know, many do not think about it. What is difference of IDEA? We found a creative approach to this problem. We try to conduct some contests. The latest thing we did we created gazelle models. Many gazelles are facing the threat of extinction.
Artists from all around the world had to paint it and thereby, we attract attention to protection of environment, animals. In my opinion, it is very vital. When I recently was in Astrakhan, we discussed that we are going to conduct contests on protection of the white swan among schoolchildren. We have recently begun a photo contest on "Earth through eyes of children". About 2 thousand participants from various countries of the world already participate in the contest. They take pictures.
- I understand rightly that apart from the goal of protection of environment, we create kind of an instrument of mutual integration of Azerbaijani and Russian teenagers.
- Yes, of course, it is art and culture. Therefore, we want to find a creative approach to everything and everything includes art: photography, paintings, poems, verses. Simultaneously, it provides an opportunity for self-expression of youth.
- Environment, music, education, magazine, which I know you publish. Does the word "impossible" exist for you?
- No, in my judgment, no, because when anyone says I cannot it means I want it insufficiently. If one wants something very eagerly, believes in what he wants, it is possible to do many things. The main thing is that what you do brings benefits, and when you see positive results it brings benefits, you want to do much more.
- You are young, not to conceal, very beautiful oriental woman. All these events require much time. You have children. They need attention as well. How do you afford time?
- Yes, I have two children. They will turn four soon. Of course, family and children are the main thing for me because I want to give my children as much as my parents gave me. I want them grow in love and care. It is the main thing. I have to travel extensively all around the world. I take children with me that is why I am not missing. It is possible to afford time. The main thing is health for everyone.
- Unfortunately, the airtime is not infinite. I want to thank you for this interesting conversation. As Azerbaijanis say, chokh sag olun.
- Thank you