Leyla Aliyeva: "Heydar Aliyev's granddaughter has no right to make mistakes"
History has many examples of selfless service to a Motherland and very few examples of selfless service to the whole of humanity, by inspiration, because of a certain inner need, following the heart and lifetasks. This love for everything that exists transcends national borders and acquires a comprehensive nature. It is quite natural that this feeling is based on love for your land and people.
Leyla Aliyeva – we are talking about her – has someone who can be an example for her. In her life, she is guided by the principle: "Heydar Aliyev's granddaughter has no right to make mistakes." She evaluates any action from the standpoint of her grandfather, whose memory she cherishes. The example of her father – the current President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, who puts the interests of his country, justice and fairness above everything else (unfortunately these feelings are long forgotten in global politics) – and the philanthropy and selfless mission of her mother, First Lady of Azerbaijan Mehriban Aliyeva, are bright beacons that light the way in her life. Being a worthy citizen of Azerbaijan, Leyla Aliyeva tries to become a citizen of the world. And she really manages to do so.
An old proverb says: every man must grow a tree, build a house and raise a son. Despite being young, Leyla Aliyeva already did what not every man can: she built a house (by building a house we mean creative activity), she planted a tree, and she raises beautiful sons. It's amazing how Leyla Aliyeva, who harmoniously combines beauty and intelligence, gentleness and will, also manages to do so many things and projects. Some people think that she could easily be satisfied with the status of president's daughter, having a rich life without any worries. But it is clearly not for her. Her genes are obvious here: everything that concerns Azerbaijan, its worries, is perceived as her own concern that requires personal involvement and efforts. She chooses areas where the state requires public participation and support rationally and precisely: youth policy, environmental issues, promotion of her country's image in the world, the country's culture and traditions, the formation of an objective image of the Karabakh conflict, Azerbaijan's main foreign policy aspects. What she does can be called public diplomacy, this "soft power", which, according to American political scientist Joseph Nye, "allows us to achieve that which is desired through attractiveness, not violence and bribery." Thanks to the work of Leyla Aliyeva an attractive image of Azerbaijan is being formed, the republic's position in the world is strengthening, it is respected more and more. That's the success formula: thoughtfulness, purposefulness, unindifference, involvement.
'Baku' magazine as a mirror of Azerbaijan's reality
Many of her initiatives and undertakings can be described by the words "for the first time." In 2007 she began to publish the Russian-language magazine 'Baku' in Moscow. Basically, it was the first foreign publication that provided extensive information about Azerbaijan and its heart – the beautiful city of Baku, about the rich traditions and customs of the Azerbaijani people, the rich cultural life of the country, its historical personalities and our contemporaries – writers, poets, artists, musicians, architects, those who glorify their homeland in the world through their work, talent and art, as well as through the unique national cuisine and crafts. The magazine introduces the ancient history and picturesque places of Azerbaijan to a broad audience, talks about the humanism of our nation and its national and spiritual values, about the country's unique multicultural atmosphere, which already became Azerbaijan's brand. Each issue is a revelation not only for the foreign reader, but also for Azerbaijanis: there is a lot of the new and the unknown in it. The materials and heroes of the publications and the magazine's design itself demonstrate the delicate taste of its editor-in-chief, her deep knowledge, erudition and intellect. The introduction to each issue is written by Leyla Aliyeva, its philosophical depth, clarity of thought and ability to say many things without many words are impressive. Stories about major events that have occurred or are expected in the life of the country are harmoniously combined with thoughts about the meaning of life, happiness and beauty, kindness and generosity. But perhaps the most important thing is the huge love for Azerbaijan and Baku, which is imbued in every word. You must agree that only a person who is deeply in love with Baku, who can comprehend and understand its uniqueness, its unique spirit, can write the following words: "Perhaps a special mood is needed to feel the aura of the city. If you have it, then a certain magic starts to work and the city becomes like a home to you. It is impossible to understand the soul of Baku, if one were to judge it only by the Old Town and the Maiden Tower, or just the Fire Towers and the Heydar Aliyev Center. Only all of this together is Baku. Ancient and modern, diverse and multi-faceted, friendly and open on the one hand, but mysterious and enigmatic on the other."
To a large extent, it is thanks to 'Baku' magazine that Russian readers all over the world learned more about Azerbaijan, were able to see it in an objective light, feel an interest and start to love it. The magazine's readership has drastically increased since the beginning of the publication of its English version in 2011.
Good deeds of AMOR
The creation of the Azerbaijani Youth Association of Russia (AMOR) was another initiative of Leyla Aliyeva. It was the first structured youth diaspora organization that immediately attracted attention with its charitable, social and cultural projects.
In fact, Leyla Aliyeva's proclivity for public activities emerged when she headed the Azerbaijan Club at MGIMO, where she studied under a master's program. At that time.she already showed outstanding leadership talent, managed to win over young people, giving the right direction to their unrestrained energy and daring new ideas. The creation of AMOR significantly expanded the boundaries and scale of these activities. The organization united the Azerbaijani youth who lived, studied and worked in Russia, turned them into an organized force capable of resolving the serious tasks that the diaspora structures face today. I think it would be no exaggeration to say that to a large extent a new portrait of young Azerbaijanis has been established thanks to the activities and efforts of AMOR – an intellectual, striving for innovation, sensitive to the trends of time, a patriot who cares about the pain, worries and problems of others. All of this is achieved through specific actions and projects on the territory of Russia. The organization undertook various initiatives, such as the 'Blood Has No Nation!' campaign. Activists of AMOR, which operates in 70 regions of Russia, visit orphanages, arrange holidays for their young residents, help children. Schools and kindergartens are repaired, equipped with modern equipment on the initiative and with the support of the organization. Parks and recreation areas are created. At the same time, AMOR helps the Azerbaijani youth to integrate into Russian society, actively participate in the life of the country, coordinates their activities, aimed at the popularization of our country, in other words resolves those crucial challenges that were set by President Ilham Aliyev for compatriots' organizations at the 4th Congress of World Azerbaijanis. According to popular belief, AMOR is most active youth organization outside of Azerbaijan today.
When last year Leyla Aliyeva was awarded the Pushkin Medal for her contribution to strengthening friendship and cooperation with the Russian Federation, the development of economic ties, the preservation and popularization of the Russian language and culture abroad, it was a recognition of the merits of AMOR and its leader. The award was presented to her by Russian President Vladimir Putin. And it's not her only Russian award.
Another initiative: "Justice for Khojaly"
In 2008 Leyla Aliyeva initiated the international campaign 'Justice for Khojaly'. The idea of this campaign was expressed in her words: "Let's agitate for truth together. Let's prove that justice will prevail without a doubt."
The campaign brought together the scattered efforts of different people, civil society in the country and diaspora organizations abroad to carry out systematic educational and propaganda work, aimed at increasing international awareness of the genocide carried out by Armenians in the Azerbaijani city of Khojaly, as well as of the fascist essence of the policy pursued by the Armenian leadership. Another aim of this campaign was to achieve international recognition of the Khojaly genocide, a political and legal evaluation of the acts of Armenians, who killed hundreds of people in one night just because they were Azerbaijanis, and show that ignoring such crimes against humanity and being indifferent to the pain of others will lead to similar tragedies in other parts of the world.
Today this campaign is successfully carried out in dozens of countries, more than 120 thousand people and 115 organizations have joined it. The exhibitions, conferences and mass protests held in its framework allow to inform the international community about these events, show the ugly face of Armenian nationalism. All information resources – multiple publications of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, documentaries and social networks are widely used in this work. Eight years of such activity have achieved an impressive result: the parliaments of ten countries and the legislative departments of more than 20 American states have acknowledged the Khojaly tragedy as a genocide. The number of states that have condemned the crimes of the Armenians is increasing with each year. It means that the goal of the campaign, launched by Leyla Aliyeva, will be achieved – justice will prevail.
IDEA: "One Earth — One Future"
I once read in some book: "Man is, of course, the king of nature, however not as an exploiter, but as someone who understands it and bears moral responsibility for the preservation and improvement of all living and beautiful things in it." In my opinion, the creation of the IDEA (International Dialogue for Environmental Action) Public Association was dictated by this meaning. The main purpose of this initiative, which was also created by Leyla Aliyeva, is to preserve and protect rich natural diversity, not only in Azerbaijan, but also beyond its borders, to ensure a safe, healthy and green future for the younger generation. IDEA aims to direct the energy and knowledge of young people at preventing environmental threats, motivating it to play an active role in the protection of our planet. IDEA's slogan speaks for itself: "One Earth — One Future". The scale of IDEA's activities is truly grandiose – the protection and restoration of the populations of endangered species, the promotion of 'green technologies', waste management, restoration of forest belts and the creation of large areas of green spaces. The activists of this organization deal with the creation of shelters for stray animals, they actively promote the initiative on the use of biodegradable bags to prevent environmental pollution by plastic waste, they carry out tree-planting events.
IDEA defined the "great Caucasian five", taking rare representatives of the region's fauna under its wing. IDEA implemented a number of successful projects together with the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Azerbaijan and international partners. According to Leyla Aliyeva, IDEA plans to restore various endangered species in the future. There is no doubt that these plans will be fulfilled. Over these years, it was possible to verify that Leyla Aliyeva, just like her excellent grandfather and father, doesn't waste any words. Her work is based on the following scheme: problem - search for ways to resolve it - specific action - real result. This scheme never failed her.
Concern for starving children
All these cases certainly describe Leila Aliyeva as a businesswoman, a decisive person with initiative and exceptional organizational skills. But she still remains the very embodiment of femininity. All those who know her note her extraordinary kindness, openness, compassion, sincerity, ability to empathize. Her recent speech at the 7th UNAOC Global Forum in Baku was also remarkable. "One person in the world dies of hunger every four seconds," she noted with anxiety. "Children become victims of hunger and undernutrition even more often. So we all must strive to ensure that no child in the world will die from hunger."
This is not a simple expression of concern. As a Goodwill Ambassador of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Leyla Aliyeva is prepared to contribute and contributes to overcoming poverty and hunger in the world, in particular through the implementation of FAO's 'Zero Hunger' program. I'm absolutely sure that she will succeed in it, and in the near future we will witness new initiatives and specific projects in this area. Recently, for example, she pit forward a proposal on the promotion of food security on a global scale in the framework of the Baku process on intercultural dialogue.
Charity as a state of mind
The charity work of Leyla Aliyeva is a manifestation of her human qualities. She does it because her soul wants it, not to show off and without expecting gratitude. This is the philosophy of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, for which charity became one of the most important priorities of its activity, a natural state. No one is surprised that people see the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, its President Mehriban Aliyeva and Vice-President Leyla Aliyeva as the last hope. And their expectations are justified, because the Fund always helps, even in the most hopeless situations.
Leila Aliyeva can often be seen at charity events for children without parents, who came from families of refugees and internally displaced persons, residents of orphanages and boarding schools. Another important point is that she always comes to these events with her children, which adds sincerity and warmth to such meetings. So her children also receive lessons of kindness, responsiveness, ability to share joy and sorrow with others. Lessons that will be remembered for their entire lives. This is the personal example, on which, as she believes, people should raise their children.
Personal moral code
It was noted a long time ago that a talented person is talented in everything. Leyla Aliyeva is the best example of this. She writes wonderful poems, which reflect a gentle, refined soul, the richness of the inner world of the author. She is also a talented painter. Her paintings are displayed at professional exhibitions and praised by experts. As a creative person and a person who is well versed in art, she helps young talented artists to reach the international level, to show their work in the best galleries of the world. So the modern art of Azerbaijan is gaining popularity in the world along with mugham, carpet weaving and other ancient crafts of our nation.
I think it would not be a mistake to say that the Heydar Aliyev Center became one of the centers of the cultural life of our country. Music groups with an international reputation often perform there, exhibitions of outstanding artists and modern sculptors are held there. Leyla Aliyeva greatly contributed to this. Thanks to her efforts, residents of Azerbaijan were able to see the works of legends in world art – Bernard Buffet, Tony Cragg, Richard Deacon, Andy Warhol, George Condo. At the opening of one of the most famous avant-garde artists of our time, George Condo, held in the Heydar Aliyev Center, Leyla Aliyeva admitted that, after seeing his works for the first time five years ago, she wanted them to be shown in Baku. "Today one of my innermost wishes was fulfilled," she said.
In this regard, I recall how in the 1970s - early 1980s the Azerbaijan State Philharmonic hosted classical music concerts on the initiative of national leader Heydar Aliyev, who was the first secretary of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan at that time. It was a truly educational mission of the great Heydar Aliyev. A mission that his granddaughter Leyla has worthily taken on and continues in the new conditions.
In one of her interviews she said that from the moment a person is born the Almighty put an understanding of right and wrong into him, and he must follow these concepts in life by listening to his heart, his conscience, his soul and his ancestors. And only in this case will he never make a mistake... In a sense, this is her personal moral code.
Leyla Aliyeva lives by this code and she does not make any mistakes.