Oktay Asadov: "Parliamentarians of Russia and Azerbaijan support each other in international organizations"
On April 11, Azerbaijan held presidential elections, which Ilham Aliyev won. The Central Election Commission of Azerbaijan accredited 900 international observers to monitor the voting process. Many of them are parliamentarians from different countries. Speaker of the Milli Majlis Oktay Asadov discussed Russian-Azerbaijani parliamentary relations in an interview with Vestnik Kavkaza.
- There Russian delegation at the elections, which included parliamentarians, senators. What can you say about cooperation between parliaments of Russia and Azerbaijan?
- The Milli Mejlis of Azerbaijan maintains very close ties with the Federal Assembly. The Friendship Group is working with both chambers of the Russian parliament. There's also bilateral commission that holds meetings annually. Ilyas Umakhanov heads this commission on behalf of Russia, while vice-speaker of the Milli Mejlis Valeh Aleskerov represents our side. Their work brings results, they address global issues.
Parliamentarians of Russia and Azerbaijan demonstrate strategic partnership in all international parliamentary organizations by supporting each others' positions. For example, at a recent meeting of the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Azerbaijan was a member of the executive committee and was among six countries that voted in favor of Russia's proposal. This is the format that shows how great our relations are.
- Our relations have a long history - Azerbaijanis participated in sessions of the first and second State Duma.
- Yes. In the first Duma, the Muslim faction was led by Azerbaijani MP Alimardan Topchibashev. His monument was erected at the Tauride Palace. Six deputies from Azerbaijan participate in the work of the first Duma, eight deputies participated in the work of the second Duma. We have very deep traditions - Azerbaijan was a part of tsarist Russia for about 100 years, a part of the USSR for about 70 years. Now Azerbaijan is an independent country, but we still maintain close relations between heads of our states and between our parliaments. We really appreciate it. Nothing can disturb our strategic partnership.
- How does parliamentary diplomacy affect Russian-Azerbaijani relations today?
- When Russia lost its right to vote in the PACE last year, Azerbaijan was among those countries that opposed it. Russian-Azerbaijani relations have deep roots, and although the USSR collapsed, Azerbaijan has great respect for Russian language. Azerbaijan has over 200 schools that teach in Russian, aroung 100 schools with Russian sector. Universities teach in Russian. There's a branch of the Moscow State University and a branch of the Sechenov Medical University in Baku. Azerbaijan has the largest Russian community in the South Caucasus with over 120 thousand people. There's a huge Azerbaijani diaspora in Russia. We must support each other in the international arena, because we're strategic partners.
- Azerbaijan is a multinational country with deep traditions of tolerance. What is the secret of this success?
- Azerbaijan pays a lot of attention to multiculturalism, interethnic and interreligious relations. All religions are respected here - there are Orthodox churches, Catholic church, six synagogues. People learned how to live together, respect each other.
- In 2018, Azerbaijan will celebrate many anniversary dates, including the 100th anniversary of the ADR. What traditions of parliamentarism currently exist in the republic?
- In our understanding, parliamentarianism is a parliamentary democracy, parliamentary diplomacy, rapprochement of peoples.
- This year Heydar Aliyev would have turned 95...
- Heydar Aliyev is our national leader. Without him Azerbaijan would fall apart. After he returned to power the country was able to rise. It was Heydar Aliyev who put Azerbaijan on the right track of sustainable development.