Ismail Agakishiyev: “Not to be tolerant, but to respect each other”
By Vestnik Kavkaza
Last week the International Video Conference “Intercultural and Inter-religious Dialogue is the Axiological Foundation of Tolerance in the Eurasian Space: Experience of Russia and Kazakhstan” took place in Moscow, Astana and Novosibirsk. The event was organized by the Scientific Expert Council of the Assembly of the Kazakhstan People, the Center of Analytical Studies “Eurasian Monitoring,” and the Russian State University for the Humanities.
Speaking at the conference, the Russian scientist, the head of the Caucasiology Center of MSU, Ismail Agakishiyev, stated that “at such events we always use the word 'tolerance,' but note that we (representatives of the post-Soviet space, who represent Russia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and so on) mean another notion. We cannot say that we are tolerant toward each other. We understand and respect each other. We should get rid of the foreign word “tolerance” and speak about mutual respect and mutual understanding in Russian.”
At the same time, Agakishiyev urges not to reject historical memory: “70 years of our history formed relations which I would call more than friendship. We should improve these relations. We should not only improve relations between the Russian and the Kazakh peoples, but also a priori relations between the Turkic and Slavic peoples. We should remember not only our common 70 years of history, but also remember the 6th, the 7th, the 9th centuries, returning to Gumelyov, the Great Steppe, when kindred relations were founded.”
According to the expert, there were not only wars between the Turkic and Slavic peoples, but also long periods of mutual prosperity. “It is necessary to study each other, understand each other, improve relations and do our best to prevent exploitation of our drawbacks by third forces. Let everybody come to us, but nobody has the right to dictate how to develop our relations. It would be great if we didn’t hear “Who isn't jumping is a Moskal!” or “Who isn’t sitting is an Armenian/Azerbaijani!” It took place in the recent past when ethnic conflicts were created. Big institutions have worked and are working on this. However, you can say “halva” many times, but it won’t be sweeter in your mouth. We should work a lot in this direction, as we are responsible to our nations, our families, our children, and our countries.”