Vestnik Kavkaza
Oct 18 2012

Azerbaijani national writer, journalist and co-chair of the Presidium
of the International Literary Fund, the Secretary of the Union of
Writers of Azerbaijan Chingiz Abdullayev spoke at the Annual Forum
of Azerbaijani Youth Organization of Russia "AMOR: Uniting Hearts",
held from 12 to 13 October, Moscow.

It is clear that what is happening in the world is the clash of
civilizations, which, unfortunately, is artificially fomented and
provoked. For example, I still do not understand why it was necessary
to allow the creation of the well-known film, because of which there
was a pogrom on U.S. embassies and even the murder of the U.S.

ambassador to Libya - "Innocence of Muslims." Why should people hold a
public burning of the Koran? I cannot say that I am a religious person,
but I cannot understand why they should offend one religion in favour
of another. I'm against offending all religions; people should not
insult the Prophet Muhammad, as well as Christ or Moses or Buddha.

Similarly, people should not burn either the Bible or the Koran or
the Torah. But when this is done, you realize that this is done on
purpose, and this causes a conflict of civilizations. It is believed
that it will be possible one day to use it in our society, I now have
in mind the whole world, and there is really no alternative to the
policy of multiculturalism. The alternative is universal hatred. The
alternative is when the weakest are oppressed. The alternative is when
minorities are oppressed in their own country. We who passed through
the Karabakh events understand why such a people, peace-loving,
good-natured, friendly, not prone to aggression, as the people of
Azerbaijan, could be raised to the state of this terrible conflict.

Now, of course, we realize that it was a package which demonstrated
the actual state of the Soviet Union, and that this is not a religious
conflict because a Muslim and Shiite state, Iran, supports Armenia,
and an Orthodox state, Georgia, is often on the side of Azerbaijan.

Nevertheless, it was a package, from which many events began.

Unfortunately, the official media do not write about what followed
next, and I'm sure that if I ask you to raise your hands many will
not even be aware that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, for
example, in Tajikistan every sixth man suffered, and the president
of Tajikistan was hanged on a monument to Lenin. Entire villages
were burned. Then, in 1992, the media did not wrote about it -
Gaidar's government was here, in Moscow, and it was not allowed to
write about it. The American ambassador, who later worked in Baku,
was evacuated by Russian tanks. There is such a stupid argument:
"We collapsed without a lot of blood." This is absolute nonsense: we
collapsed with a lot of blood. Therefore, an alternative, I repeat, is
always national intolerance and ethnic hatred. And the fact that today
in Europe right-wing parties are gaining the support of the population
and a lot of votes still shows a trend. So, the only way is continuing
to increase cultural education among minorities and bringing them
to the level of the country in which they live. Culture is the only
vaccine against barbarism. But if we reject these minorities - I now
have in mind states with a majority of indigenous people - of course,
the policy of multiculturalism is bound to be an absolute failure. So,
we need to approach this more intelligently, or fascist-nationalist
parties will win. In America, where for so many years, it would seem,
even before 1960s, before Martin Luther King, there was a dark-skinned
oppressed minority, an African-American was elected president of the
United States, though it was almost unbelievable. You know, I would
still not consider that this fact shows a big American victory of
the democratic majority, because they recognize that this is still an
exception to the rule, and the number of blacks both in the Senate and
in Congress does not correspond to the number of the population. But,
nevertheless, it is certainly a great indicator. Is it possible
in other states, for example, in Europe, I mean the victory of the
representative of any minority? I'm not sure of it. And now I say a
nastier thing; I guess, being Azerbaijani, I should not speak about
this, but this will make us think. On the one hand, we always blame
those countries in which there are national minorities that they take
the wrong approach and have improper contact with them - this, by
the way, is written all the time to Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. On
the other hand, very recently - I have this video in the phone in my
pocket - I specially filmed several queues: a queue to the Van Gogh
Museum, to the Louvre Museum, and to the Orsay museum. I repeat, I
can demonstrate these queues on the phone. Two thousand people stood
in a queue to the new exhibition of Van Gogh's masterpieces. I reached
its end. My son said to me softly, "Dad, you know, we're the blackest
people in this crowd." The two thousand people were Europeans and
Americans. There was not a single Arab. There was not a single woman
in a hijab. There was not one black. I saw two African-Americans -
they were the guards who stood at the door. Then we ask ourselves
the question: why? Why, if we, on the one hand, we say that this is
equality, that this is a dialogue of cultures - so why do we ignore
the cultures of the countries in which we live? Why then do we not
respect the people of the country in which we live, returning again
to the shooting at the wedding? Why do we not respect the Russian
majority, who live in Russia? Why do we not want to take up their
culture? Why are we Muslims behind the Europeans? What is our backlog?

Perhaps, it is in the fact that in the large crowd there were not -
maybe there were Turks, I do not know - but there were not any Arabs
and blacks? There were Japanese and Chinese, yes. Maybe that's the
problem? Maybe the problem is that we are reluctant to participate
in a dialogue of cultures? Generally, in fact, now it is clear that
Muslim civilization and European civilization are based on different
ideals, and they can meet only with the concept of the general level
of culture. Once again I return to the thesis: Culture is a vaccination
against barbarism. If Europe continues the same reckless policies, I am
afraid that in the suburbs of Paris and in the suburbs of London people
will continue to burn cars, and there will be clashes between youth
and indigenous people. I repeat, the only way is to start a dialogue.

If I understand correctly, in your speech you have said that
the concept of multiculturalism is equivalent to the concept of
internationalism. Is this true, or is there any difference between

There is a difference, of course, because after all we associate
internationalism with the 20th century, the Soviet Union and the
communist idea, though, in general, have never seen anything wrong
in internationalism. And multiculturalism is a new word, coined
already in our time, which indicates that different national groups
and communities can live in a multi-ethnic state and develop quite
normally. I think both things are not bad, though there is little
difference between them; in general, they show that people should
follow the principles of both internationalism and multi-culturalism.

How do you think it is possible that Azerbaijanis and Armenians can
live harmoniously together in the Russian Federation?

I'm sure that, first, they live here together - perhaps you know,
there is practically no precedent of clashes. I have not heard about
any serious incidents concerning Azerbaijanis and Armenians for 20
years. As far as I know, the criminal community agree very well. This
is, of course, a joke; however, those who live in all the cities
of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, the national diasporas of
Armenians and Azerbaijanis, also agree very well. In Moscow, there
was a restaurant called Pomidor, in which Armenians and Azerbaijanis
gathered, listening to music and crying, hugging, kissing, and saying:
"How good it was to live in Soviet times!" I think it is quite possible
to make living in the future quite amicable.

How do you see the future of the relationship between Russia and

It will be very good. The fact is that Azerbaijan is the only country
in the world in which the president studied in Russian and taught in
Russian in one of the best of your universities - MGIMO. Given that
we have not closed any Russian school and have increased several
times the number of Russian-language newspapers and magazines, I
think our relationship in the future will be friendly, brotherly and
the greatest. The relationship of our presidents and respect for the
great Russian culture, the great Russian literature, which has been
and always will be alive in Azerbaijan, are the guarantees of this.

From: Baghdasarian